If you’re like me and always wanted a Honda Ridgeline, you better buy one now since production will cease this month (June). Reason being, Honda is coming out with a redesigned version that looks more like a conventional truck. But the current version is likened to “near beer” in that it’s a “near truck.” Not totally suited for heavy duty hauling or towing (5,000 lbs max tow weight), but more for the homeowner who needs an open truck bed for hauling bulk mulch, pressure treated lumber or a pair of mountain bikes. It’s an urban hauler and all the pickup most people need. And best of all, it doesn’t look like a truck, but more like Honda’s Pilot SUV.
One advantage to owning a Ridgeline Crew Cab with a short 5-foot bed is that it’s a manageable truck without the enormity of a traditional full-size half-ton pickup, particularly a crew cab with seating for five. For example, GMC’s 2014 Sierra Crew Cab has a wheelbase of 145.3 inches, Ridgeline’s is 122. Sierra’s length is 229.5 inches whereas Ridgeline’s is only 206.9. Sierra’s width is 80 inches, Ridgeline’s is 77.8. All a big difference when it comes to parking and parking in the average garage.
And Ridgeline is more nimble and handles better than conventional pickups with it independent suspension and lighter structure as its built on Honda’s Odyssey minivan platform. As a result, Ridgeline rides like no other pickup. It’s smooth, quiet and its size makes it easy to park. There is, however, a recall on the driver’s side-view mirror that whistles at speeds over 30 mph.
Because of this lighter platform, Ridgeline is not a true offroader despite its 8.2 inches of ground clearance. In fact its AWD is actually front drive and by pressing a dash switch the system temporarily locks in AWD mode that can be left engaged at speeds up to 18 mph. So it’s not a true 4WD system that can be locked in and driven in typical 4-high or 4-low positions. However, even with those low gearings, those who have them rarely use them.
All Ridgelines are powered by one engine. A 250-hp, 247 lb/ft of torque 3.5L V6 VTEC engine. Coupled to a dated 5-speed automatic transmission, EPA mileage estimates are a meager 15 city, 21-highway mpg.
When talking to a few current Ridgeline owners, their major and often only complaint with their truck is the poor gas mileage. Ford’s EcoBoost V6 in a full-size pickup is rated at 15/21 mpg with 6-speed auto but produces 365-hp and 420 lb/ft of torque. Ram’s 3.6L, 305-hp V6 with 8-speed auto is rated at 18/25 mpg, again, in a full-size truck.
Ridgelines’ acceleration and passing power are adequate (0-60 tested at 8.3 seconds), but load it up to its 1,500-pound payload capacity and both are lethargic.
Since this is Ridgeline’s last model year, Honda did virtually little to improve these figures or update features like adding a safety-enhanced passenger side-view mirror with embedded camera that’s on 2014 Honda Civics’.
While Ridgeline’s interior too, hasn’t seen many substantial upgrades since it debuted in 2005, the current one is pleasing and comfy over the long haul. Heated, perforated leather front seats are heavily padded and all instrumentation is simple and easy to use and includes large HVAC knobs that can be manipulated with gloves on.
The top-line, SE (also offered in RT, RTS and RTL versions), includes a standard rearview camera in a 7.75-inch LCD display (it doubles as a GPS nav screen) whereas lesser models have it in the rearview camera.
The back seat is spacious for three adults with a low step-in of 20.5 inches. And the seats split 60/40 and fold up against the bulkhead for stowing additional gear including a mountain bike with the front wheel removed. This feature in itself can likely hold more gear than many compact SUV cargo areas.
Then there’s the 5-foot long cargo bed with its two unique features. One is its lockable, waterproof In-Bed Trunk under the bed floor that can hold a myriad of gear. It’s also where the shrink spare tire is stowed on an adjacent shelf.
The second, and what is impressive, is its two-position tailgate. It flips down like a conventional tailgate or opens to the left side like a hearse. The latter is extremely useful and a strong selling point for the Ridgeline. It also allows an easier reach into the bed area to retrieve items.
Ridgeline comes with a myriad of safety items including side curtain airbag with rollover sensors, stability control and more. With the SE trim package comes a long list of standard features that are too long to list but includes XM radio and nav system. As there are no extra cost items other than an $830 delivery charge, the base price of $37,505 slips to $38,335. Many full-size trucks with this amount of content can easily top $50K.
The government’s 5 star safety rating bestowed its top “good” rating on the Ridgeline plus awarded it four stars for rollover. Frontal and side crash, however, were not rated.