January 9, 2014
Honda Ridgeline, 2006–2013. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Pickup Truck
History/Description: Honda’s pickup truck model, the Ridgeline, occupied a nichey little piece of the pickup segment with its quirky unibody structure, small box, V6-only powertrain and automatic 4×4 system which lacked low-range. Though it likely won’t haul a skid of roofing shingles to a jobsite or climb the side of a mountain, Ridgeline earned a loyal following by offering functionality to meet the needs of light-duty pickup shoppers who also needed a highly functional and flexible vehicle for day to day use.
For what about 90 percent of pickup shoppers use their pickups for about 90 percent of the time, Ridgeline should prove just fine. If you don’t regularly need the services of a great big towing rig, it’s a truck that makes plenty of sense. Moreso if you have a family, love camping, own a four-legged friend or two, or like to partake in outdoor sports.
A clever, flexible design ideology lies at the Ridgeline’s functional core.
The large rear seats offer heaps of room for two or three full-sized adults and have a generous storage space beneath them. And those rear seats flip up and out of the way in about three seconds, creating a large cargo area that’ll securely accept a bike or two, a flat-screen TV, a few golden retrievers, or a load of groceries.
The box is short – but adequate for a dirt-bike, motorcycle, a small quad or a load of potted plants from Home Depot. The firewall at the front of the bed has built-in notches for holding tires in place, which work with tie-downs to make securing two-wheeled toys a breeze.
The tailgate opens out, like a door, or downwards, like a tailgate, too. Four lights illuminate the bed as needed, and there’s a famous ‘under-bed compartment’, which adds a trunk similar in capacity to that of a mid-sized car. It’s lockable, waterproof, and is illuminated and drainable.
Clever, thoughtful touches like this make the Ridgeline well suited to a variety of active shoppers.
Available options included heated leather seats, a rear-view mirror with compass, automatic climate control and a HomeLink universal garage door opener. If you frequently tow with your Ridgeline, be sure to check out the back-up camera – which adds a degree of security and makes it easier to hook up a trailer when you’re alone.
Travelers can consider the DVD-based navigation system, Bluetooth phone interface and more.
Engines / Trim: Ridgeline came just one way in the powertrain department: with a 3.5L VTEC V6 engine, automatic transmission and automatic four-wheel drive with a driver-selectable locking mode. Trim grades saw DX or LX models at the Ridgeline’s lower-end, with EX, EX-L and EX-L NAVI topping the range.
What Owners Like: Ridgeline shoppers typically rave about unbeatable flexibility, great wintertime traction, relatively capable off-road performance for light to moderate trails, and a car-like driving experience. Ride comfort is rated well as far as pickups go, and Ridgeline is also easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces. The reconfigurable storage bins up front are a hit with owners, as is the lockable under-bed storage compartment. Plenty of interior space, a commanding driving position and relatively easy entry and exit round out the package.
What Owners Dislike: Complaints include limited all-around visibility, which is partially impeded by thick door pillars. Many owners wish for better fuel mileage and a longer rear box, saying that an accessory bed extender is needed to transport longer items in the back of the Ridgeline. On that note, many owners report that Ridgeline’s factory accessories are somewhat pricey and difficult to install. Some owners wish for more power, too.
Finally, owners (and your writer, based on past test-drives of this model) can confirm that the finish in the Ridgeline’s composite box is very delicate and easily scratched.
Honda Ridgeline, 2006–2013 & 2007 Honda Ridgeline LX. Click image to enlarge
Here’s a list of owner reviews, full of folks talking about how much they love their Ridgelines, on Trader.ca.
Common Issues: Though Ridgeline looks to be a very solid pickup on the reliability front, a few checks are advised – beginning with standard used pickup shopping tips.
It’s a good piece of advice for any used ride, but even more relevant in a pickup: get it in the air. While on a hoist, your favourite mechanic can inspect the Ridgeline you’re considering for signs of excessive rust, dents, scrapes or perforations. The condition of the tires, suspension and steering system can also be assessed. Ditto the driveshaft. This is a great time to check for leaks as well. After a few minutes under the truck you’re considering, a mechanic can give you a very good idea of the shape it’s in.