It's typical Honda: take a tried-and-true concept and reengineer it to within an inch of its life. Witness the Acura NSX, the Honda Odyssey, and now the new Ridgeline pickup. A careful scan of the truck's innovative features is enough to make competitors' engineers scratch their collective heads in slackjawed disbelief. Note, for instance, the Ridgeline's in-bed trunk. On its own, the weatherproof and lockable 8.5-cubic-foot bin is genius, but it's especially smart when combined with the Honda's two-way rear tailgate, which drops like a conventional pickup but can also swing open like a door. Less innovative automakers may feel that Honda's attention to detail leans a bit toward overkill, but in the first weeks after our Four Seasons Ridgeline's arrival, we have been duly impressed by these and many other features.
Our steel blue Ridgeline RTL came with XM satellite radio, a navigation system, and heated leather seats as standard equipment. The only item we added was a dealer-installed Honda trailer hitch and wiring kit for $640, which unlocked the truck's 5000-pound towing capacity.
135 miles Senior editor Joe DeMatio properly breaks in the Ridgeline by helping a friend move: "A double boxspring and mattress fit lengthwise in the bed with the tailgate down, and a full set of mounted wheels and tires fit in the back-seat area after using the well-designed flip mechanism."
733 miles Creative director Richard Eccleston hauls his Sunbeam Tiger to Ohio. He finds that the comfortable Ridgeline handles nicely with 4500 pounds in tow, although the 3.5-liter V-6 engine has to work quite hard, and the transmission downshifts frequently on the slightest of inclines.
4825 miles Three words nicely sum up our Ridgeline: always at work. From hauling large loads to the local recycling center to transporting an ATV to New Orleans, the miles and logbook entries continue to pile up. The only issue thus far is a poorly calibrated touch screen for the navigation system that makes it difficult to enter data. We plan to have it examined at the truck's first routine service.
5910 miles Managing editor Amy Skogstrom doesn't like the Ridgeline's styling. She also notes that "the controls feel miles away from me. I need a telescopic arm to keep my eyes on the road while adjusting the climate control."
6125 miles The motor gophers make good use of the Ridgeline's deep bed and flip-up rear seats to haul four sets of mounted tires.