The Honda Ridgeline is a compromise. And I like it.
When I reviewed the Nissan Titan I mentioned how I’m not really a truck guy. I’m also intrigued by the number of people who drive trucks as daily transportation without hauling anything. Most trucks make lousy cars (and vice versa). But the Ridgeline straddles both worlds very nicely and is the kind of truck I wouldn’t mind owning.
If you’re looking for a truck with a big bed, huge payload and lots of towing power, move along. The Ridgeline will only disappoint you.
If, on the other hand, you prefer a truck that won’t bounce you around as you drive to work each day, and will handle most of the stuff weekend warriors are likely to carry, the Ridgeline delivers. The Ridgeline’s 25o horsepower 3.5 liter V6 will tow 5,000 pounds and carry about 1,500. That’s perfect for my utility trailer or the lumber I’ll need for my latest project. Power mongers will lament its lack of serious power, but I’m a “glass is half full” kind of guy and I thought it was just fine. Fuel economy is just average for mid-sized pickups. It gets 15 mpg city/21 highway.
The tailgate gives you the option of folding down or opening sideways like a gate. But I really love the locking trunk hidden in the bed. Sometimes there’s stuff you don’t want in the cab, but you’re not ready to leave out for someone to steal. The trunk below the bed is surprisingly large and hides things you don’t want to leave out in the open. Plus, the spare tire is there as well. It’s easy to access which means you won’t have to crawl under the truck should you have a flat.
The Ridgeline first showed up back in 2006, and the body hasn’t changed much since then. The good news is that the styling has worked well. The bad news is that if you’re looking for something fresh and new, the Ridgeline isn’t your choice. It only comes with a crew cab, but for Mr. Compromise truck driver, that’s just fine.
Moving inside was a pleasant surprise. My test truck was the Sport model. Nothing fancy, but a notch above basic. The interior was pleasant enough with a sturdy feel. I liked the large industrial dials. I was especially impressed with the center console. You can move it forward or slide it back. There are compartments that close off or open up. Considering how unimpressed I was with the new Honda CRV center console, the Ridgeline made me appreciate Honda engineering.
The back seat flips up so that you have the option to use the second row as utility space. It was perfect for taking the dog to the groomer so she didn’t have to drool on the seats. The rear seating isn’t going to win awards for ergonomic comfort, but it’s not bad.
The best part for me was the ride. It was similar to most truck based SUVs which meant I didn’t feel like I was forcing a truck to do a car’s job. I could definitely see driving the Ridgeline to work every day without having to feel like I was giving up daily comfort for weekend payload.
My test Ridgeline with the Sport package priced out at $30,800. You could knock off another $1,000 if you chose the bottom of the line RT model. That’s still a long way from the Nissan Frontier’s entry-level S model that starts at $19,000 (no crew cab and a 4 cylinder engine). But if you want a truck that will deliver you as gracefully as the stuff you’ll haul from Home Depot on the weekends, the Ridgeline is a serious contender.