2010 Ridgeline New Car Test Drive
The mid-size Honda Ridgeline is like no other pickup truck available. Now in its fifth season, it still vies for the title of most innovative pickup.
Honda's best attributes are here in a pickup: refinement, fit-and-finish and innovation. The Ridgeline features an easy-to-reach, locking storage box under its bed.
But the differences between the Ridgeline and more conventional pickups go all the way to the core.
The Ridgeline is the first mainstream pickup with fully independent rear suspension, which improves ride quality considerably. Other pickup trucks have traditionally been built with a separate nose section, cab section, and cargo bed, bolted to a separate ladder frame. Honda's pickup uses both a one-piece unit-body and a steel ladder frame welded together. Its cab and bed are built as one piece, with separate subframes for the engine, front suspension and rear suspension. Ridgeline's rigid design is more resistant to twisting and bending than traditional pickups.
We've found the Ridgeline to be one of the nicest pickups to drive when measured by comfort and ease of use. It's smooth, quiet and very maneuverable, with a load of useful features.
The Ridgeline cannot do the work of a full-size pickup, but its 1500-pound payload and 5000-pound towing capacity are enough for many buyers.
The Ridgeline has been around since 2006, but it was significantly updated for 2009 with a more powerful engine, several equipment upgrades, and freshened styling inside and out. A trailer hitch became standard on all models, and the optional navigation package was expanded to include Bluetooth and a rear-view camera. Other new features included the addition of a 115-volt power outlet on the RTL, an MP3/auxiliary input jack on the RTS and RTL, and MP3/WMA compatibility for all audio systems. Active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights were added to Ridgeline's already long list of safety features, and two more cargo tie-down points (for a total of eight) were added to the pickup bed. In all, Honda claimed to have made 50 significant changes. There have been no further revisions for 2010.
The Honda Ridgeline doesn't look or act like any other pickup truck we've driven, and it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to own or operate. It makes pleasant, comfortable daily transportation, and it's as much pickup as many drivers will ever need.
The 2010 Honda Ridgeline is sold in three different trim levels, RT, RTS, and RTL. All Ridgelines are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine generating 250 horsepower, with a five-speed automatic transmission and Honda's VTM-4 all-wheel-drive system. This full-time all-wheel-drive normally proportions 60 percent of the power to the front wheels, but if conditions indicate it will automatically send as much as 70 percent of the engine torque to the rear wheels. Ridgeline also incorporates a limited-slip differential with lock feature.
Ridgeline RT ($28,450) comes standard with black door handles; 17-inch steel wheels; six-way manually adjusted driver's seat; air conditioning; power windows, mirrors, and locks; cruise control; outside temperature gauge; a trailer hitch; and a 100-watt, six-speaker, CD/MP3/WMA-capable stereo.
Ridgline RTS ($31,555) adds power front seats with power lumbar support; a160-watt, seven-speaker stereo with six-CD changer, auxiliary input and steering-wheel mounted controls; dual-zone automatic climate control; security system; body-color door handles; wiring for towing, and 17-inch machine-finish alloy wheels. Ridgeline RTL ($34,430) upgrades to leather upholstery, heated front seats, power lumbar support for the driver, power moonroof, compass and HomeLink remote integrated into the rear-view mirror, heated side mirrors, 115-volt power outlet, XM Satellite Radio, and 18-inch machine-finish alloy wheels. The RTL is available with Honda's DVD-based navigation system with voice recognition, Bluetooth, and a rear-view camera ($36,780).
Dealer-installed accessories for all models include a motorcycle bed extender and a bed-mount bicycle attachment.
Safety equipment is comprehensive. It includes multi-stage front airbags and side-impact airbags for front passengers, front and rear side curtain airbags for head protection, active front head restraints, and LATCH child-seat anchors for the three rear seats. Anti-lock brakes (with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist), traction control, vehicle stability assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
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