The Honda Ridgeline is the perfect utility vehicle for a soccer dad. It's smart, active-minded, cultured and extremely safety-conscious. The truck offers ingenious storage options, a high-tech drivetrain and unique chassis construction. The Ridgeline's styling is unique and hotly debatable. What's not in question are the Ridgeline's comfortable ride, precise handling, and limited, but always spirited, performance. Honda's quality controls are not disputed, either. The Ridgeline features a unit-body frame, all-wheel-drive and four-wheel independent suspension. It comes in three trim levels: RT, RTS and RTL.
New for 2009
Honda says there are 50 significant changes or new features on the 2009 model. This is the first makeover for the Ridgeline since its 2006 model year introduction, but the changes do not represent a major redesign. The front and rear ends received face-lifts in the form of bumper redesigns and a different grille. Honda finally added an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players. The interior is dressed up with a new look for the instrument panel, improved switch controls, new cloth seating materials and a new steering-wheel design. Honda Accessories is also releasing new utility and dress-up items such as a bike mount, stylish 18-inch wheels and a bed extender for motorcycles.
Aesthetics aside, there are some problems with the Ridgeline's styling and design: A traditional bed cap or bed-mounted crossover toolbox won't fit, there's a limited selection of tonneau covers, and visibility is tough in some angles. While the composite bedliner maintains a fresh look and is wide enough to swallow 4x8 construction materials, it doesn't have slots for two-tier loading or vertical dividers for cargo control. The 5-foot cargo bed's highlights, of course, are the lockable in-bed trunk (8.5-cubic-foot capacity), four cargo-area lights and a dual-action tailgate that opens up and down to support long items or from the side for easier access to items at the bed's front.
- Integrated trailer hitch with seven-pin trailer wiring
- Bed gets two more tie-downs for total of eight
- New daytime running lights
- 18-inch wheels on RTL trim
The interior has many minivan cues, but it's a clean, very practical design. The front seats are supportive and the rear split-bench seat folds up neatly to allow storage of large items in the cab. Honda addressed some of the smaller details for 2009, including improving the switches for the sunroof, climate controls, cruise control and headlights. The most welcomed change is the updated stereo system (RTS, RTL) to allow MP3/WMA compatibility and the addition of an auxiliary input jack for portable music players.
- Power sliding rear window
- Heated front seats (RTL)
- 160-watt, seven-speaker, six-CD changer sound system (RTS, RTL)
- Leather seating (RTL)
Under the hood
- 3.5-liter V-6, aluminum block/cylinder head, single overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder
- Rated at 250 horsepower, 247 pounds-feet of peak torque
- Five-speed automatic transmission
- Heavy-duty transmission cooler, heavy-duty radiator with twin 160-watt fans
- Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system that runs mostly in front-wheel drive until traction demands torque be sent to the rear wheels
- Locking rear differential
Honda's forward-thinking on safety technology is evident throughout the Ridgeline, and it's standard in all trim lines. There are side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, electronic brake distribution (adjusts brake pressure between front and rear wheels depending on cargo load), brake assist (like adding a second leg to the brake pedal in certain panic-stop situations) and an electronic stability system with traction control.
- New front-seat active head restraints
- New integrated rearview camera (RTL with navigation system)
Of interest to truck owners
- Gross vehicle weight rating: 6,050 pounds
- Payload: 1,546 pounds (RT, RTS), 1,497 pounds (RTL), 1,486 pounds (RTL with navigation)
- Maximum towing capacity: 5,000 pounds
- Axle ratio: 4.53:1
- Minimum ground clearance: 8.2 inches
- Approach angle: 25 degrees
- Departure angle: 22 degrees
- Cargo floor length: 60 inches (tailgate up), 79 inches (tailgate down)
- Cargo floor width at wheel well: 49.5 inches