2006 Ridgeline New Car Test Drive
With this new Ridgeline pickup truck, Honda has taken everything that's good about the Odyssey minivan, the Element SUV and Pilot SUV, and made the newest, most innovative pickup truck on the American market.
The all-new 2006 Honda Ridgeline doesn't look or act like any other pickup truck we've ever driven. It has a family storage solution in its bed that no other pickup truck can match. And it won't cost an arm and a leg to buy or to operate. Honda says the main competition for the Ridgeline comes from Dodge Dakota, Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Explorer Sport Trac and Toyota Tacoma on size and function.
Pickup trucks have traditionally been built with a separate nose section, cab section, and cargo bed, bolted to a separate ladder frame, but this first Honda pickup uses both a welded unibody construction and a steel ladder frame, welded together, with the cab and cargo bed made as one piece, with separate subframes for the engine, front suspension and rear suspension. Honda says it is 20 times more resistant to twisting than any other pickup truck, and 3.5 times more resistant to bending. Honda says the Ridgeline can carry 1550 pounds of cargo or tow up to 5000 pounds.
The Ridgeline is one of the nicest midsize trucks we've driven in terms of comfort and ease of use, though some of the others in this class have a bit more dash and flash inside. At the high end, Ridgeline will be offered with a DVD satellite navigation system, displayed on an eight-inch-wide screen, plus XM Satellite Radio, leather seating surfaces and a moonroof.
The Ridgeline will be sold in three different levels of standard equipment, but there are no exterior badges on the tailgate to indicate the model.
The RT ($27,700) is the base model, followed by the RTS ($30,075) and RTL ($31,490) versions, topped by the RTL with a navigation system, XM Satellite Radio and a moonroof ($34,640).
RT has black bumpers, black door handles and steel wheels while the other two use body-color handles and bumpers and alloy wheels. RT has manual seats, RTS and RTL power seats. RT has no lumbar support, RTS has manual lumbar, and RTL has power lumbar. The base RT audio system pumps 100 watts, the other two 160 watts and seven instead of six speakers. RTS has alloy wheels, 6-disc changer, dual-zone climate control, and eight-way driver's seat. RTL has heated leather seats, HomeLink, and XM.
Options include XM Satellite Radio, an MP3 digital interface, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls on RTS and RTL, satellite navigation and a roof-mounted DVD entertainment system.
All models are powered by the excellent Honda 3.5-liter engine, all models will have a five-speed automatic transmission, and all models will have Honda's automatic VTM-4 all-wheel-drive system that normally proportions drive 60 percent to the front wheels, 40 percent to the rear, and can go to 30/70 when necessary. It incorporates a limited-slip differential and a Lock feature.
Safety equipment standard on Ridgeline includes anti-lock brakes, traction control, vehicle stability assist, standard all-wheel drive, front multi-stage airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, lap and shoulder belts for all seating positions and LATCH systems for each of the three rear seating positions. It adds up to more safety equipment than any other truck in its class, according to Honda.