- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 12, 2006

Honda has never had a true pickup truck in its lineup. It isn’t that Honda didn’t want to play in this arena, and it wasn’t because it could not have put some deal together with another manufacturer. It was more that Honda wanted to do it on its own. It is time and Honda has done an admirable job of designing, engineering and building a vehicle that is every bit a truck yet cannot be pigeonholed as your typical pickup.

The Honda Ridgeline resembles other trucks out there and can do as much or more of what most trucks can do. The twist is the Honda style; this isn’t like those other trucks. The Ridgeline rides, handles and works like an amalgam of vehicles.

Designed, engineered and built in North America, the Ridgeline has a ladder frame similar to a traditional truck, but also has a unibody like a passenger car. Honda has melded the two into one unit that increases the rigidity and gives the vehicle tremendous abilities. The heavy-duty frame is welded, not bolted, to the unibody, both adding strength to the entire structure.

At first glance it may appear this Honda is a “girlie-man” truck, one that offers little in the way of rugged attributes. Surprise, it can carry the load and keep you and your passengers comfortable and safe.

The bed and passenger compartment are not separate units. The body construction is all one structure between the bumpers.

Designers looked at the unmet needs of truck, car and sport utility owners to see what they were missing. They also researched firehouses, because these structures and the activities of the firefighters within represented practical space that is both work and living areas. With this information the Ridgeline was developed.

The interior is a mixture of the practicality of a busy firehouse, the ergonomics of power tools and the inviting warm comfort of a den. Plenty of features give owners what they desire in a vehicle that will do a myriad of chores. Premium sound systems add entertainment, a DVD-based navigation unit adds direction and even Bluetooth capability for cellular telephones keeps you connected.

Four-wheel drive isn’t an afterthought or an add-on feature; every Ridgeline is equipped with a sophisticated, yet rugged, four-wheel-drive system that makes slogging through water, mud or snow worry free.

Hauling a load of rock or sand, or helping your neighbor move that refrigerator is no problem because this Honda has a composite bed that resists dents and scrapes.

The tailgate not only folds down as on a traditional truck, it can swing open to the side to make easy assess to cargo. But the real surprise comes when you see the fully concealed trunk storage under the bed.

There is room for all sorts of items, such as a 72-quart ice cooler, a number of portable power tools or even three golf bags. Or you can use the composite storage bin as its own ice chest as there is a drain plug that can let out the water as the ice melts.

The bed area may seem small at first, but the wheel wells are spaced wide so that a 4-foot-wide piece of plywood will lie flat on the floor. The 5-foot bed is able to carry one of Honda’s largest off-road motorcycles by lowering the tailgate.

Power comes from a new 3.5-liter engine that is more than muscular; it is smooth and quiet. The 255 horsepower and 252 foot-pounds of torque gives the Ridgeline the performance of some much larger V-6 engines and nearly meet those of a few V-8 engines. There are a few trucklike vehicles on the market that appear as though they can do the heavy work, but when it comes to the tires hitting the road, all bets are off. Not so with the Ridgeline. This truck can haul 1,550 pounds of payload and tow, that’s right, I said tow, a 5,000-pound trailer. The thing is, it can do all this with better control. Every Ridgeline comes standard with heavy-duty brakes, transmission cooler and prewiring for trailer brakes. Just add the trailer hitch and brake module and you are ready to tow that travel trailer or your motorcycles.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide