2007 Honda Ridgeline LX
2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Laurance Yap

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Moving house can be a trying process at the best of times – you spend weeks putting your life into boxes and then probably spend the same amount of time taking your life out of boxes in the new place. If you, like I did a few weeks ago, choose to skip the movers and do it mostly yourself, choosing the right vehicle can make all the difference for your mental (and even sometimes physical) health.

My original inclination was to ask DaimlerChrysler to lend me a big Sprinter van, which could probably have moved all of my possessions to downtown Toronto from Scarborough in one trip, but there was a problem: a Sprinter was too tall to fit into my building’s underground parking lot. I needed something that could haul a lot of stuff, but also something (on a relative scale) low enough and manoeuvrable enough that I could actually get it into the building. When the option of a Honda Ridgeline pickup presented itself over lunch one day with a friend that works at the company, I jumped at it.

Given our often-unpredictable weather, a pickup truck wouldn’t have been my first choice, but the Ridgeline had a few packaging tricks up its sleeve that I found really appealing.

2007 Honda Ridgeline LX
2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge

In typical Honda fashion, the Ridgeline came a bit late to the pickup truck party, but compensated for its late arrival with truly intelligent design – to the point that you wonder why nobody had thought of some of its features before.

To wit: underneath the spacious cargo bed (it has high sides thanks to the blocky styling), there’s a weatherproof and lockable trunk. Touch an electronic pad on the bottom surface and half of the load floor swivels up, exposing a cargo area that’s bigger than the trunk in some midsize cars. During my move, I managed to jam my entire CD collection (stuffed into boxes, of course) into the trunk while the majority of my books rested above, strapped into the cargo bed thanks to numerous easy-access tie-downs along the side. The bed is lined in a hard, durable plastic that’s also easy to clean after a big job.

2007 Honda Ridgeline LX
2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge

The Ridgeline is no less intelligent inside. Up front, the centre console is divided into two levels by a tray that you can position independently of the (also movable) cupholders; the console itself is big enough to swallow a laptop bag and also gives you a convenient storage tray on top for change and parking tickets. You can convert the roomy back seat to an enormous cargo compartment by swinging the split bottom cushions up against the back wall; all you need to do is pull a lever and they glide out of the way, much like they do in the much smaller Honda Fit. Doing so meant that I was able to slide a flat-screen TV into the cabin with room to spare for all my other electronic equipment (a couple of computers, two home stereos and four speakers). Thankfully, as I had to make a couple of stops on the way down to the new digs, the rear cabin is also sheathed in privacy glass, keeping prying eyes off your valuables.

2007 Honda Ridgeline LX
2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge

As with all Hondas, the Ridgeline’s interior is comfortable and well-made, with all of the switches and controls where you’d expect them to be. Unfortunately, unlike other Hondas, the sightlines out of the five-seat cabin aren’t great: the view to the rear three-quarter can be tough to judge and parking in tight spots (such as an underground parking lot) can require a lot of manoeuvring. Also very un-Honda-like is the amusing exaggeration of the size of everything in the cabin. While it’s nice that the knobs and controls for the stereo and climate system are big enough to use with thick gloves on, it’s as if the designers were tasked with making everything look really trucky and tough. The door handles – which are big enough – have huge metallized grab handles surrounding them which are so big they’re almost difficult for my small hands to grasp. The round doors covering the power outlets are also about twice as big as they need to be.

For a truck, the Ridgeline is pretty good to drive, too. The steering has plenty of feel and is quite accurate. The brakes are strong (though the pedal is mushy) and cornering performance is impressive. On-demand all-wheel-drive comes standard on the Ridgeline; it’s primarily a front-drive vehicle until the back wheels are needed, though you can lock the torque split at 50/50 when driving at low speeds.

2007 Honda Ridgeline LX
2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge

In most conditions, the 3.5-litre V6 performs very well, revving smoothly and willingly to redline while the five-speed automatic transmission executes firm but smooth shifts. Fully loaded, though, the Ridgeline can feel a bit sluggish; torque peaks at 245 lb-ft.

Considering that most Ridgelines will be bought primarily as personal-use pickups – to be used as family cars and to haul the occasional batch of building supplies or large objects – Honda’s choice of an efficient (I managed 13.2 L/100 km over five days and four hauling trips with the truck fully loaded) V6 powertrain is the right one. As an everyday truck, something that fits as easily into an urban landscape as it does out on wider suburban roads, the Ridgeline is pretty impressive. It’s also, when you need it, a pretty serious hauler, too.


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Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Sport Trac
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Toyota Tacoma DoubleCab


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