2009 Honda Ridgeline RTL

Wow. Despite my indifference at the time of its launch, I'm actually impressed with the Ridgeline. In no way do I think it will draw people away from full-size trucks on refinement alone (perhaps the new coil-sprung Ram will do that), but I do think it'll attract crossover owners who hanker for a cargo bed.

And there's the great thing about the Ridgeline - it drives neither like a car nor a pickup, but like the chunky crossover it's built from. I'll attribute the solid feel to the over-engineered hybrid unibody/box frame structure out back, which likely adds a considerable amount of weight.

Still, the 3.5-liter V-6 pulls this thing around fairly well, although quick sprints require revving it into its upper limits. All-wheel-drive kept things well-planted, even in a few washboarded dirt corners I managed to throw the truck into. A well-sorted, well-composed ride - I can't knock that, even though the slow, heavy steering is a bit too "trucky" for this thing.

I have issues with a few things, however:

  1. If you're going to sell a unibody pickup with a V-6 on the basis of fuel economy, then you've got to do better than 15/20 mph city/highway. May I suggest a sixth gear - or perhaps shedding some weight?
  2. Plastics inside are way too hard, and the substantial panel gaps around the dash pad and instrument panel aren't impressive.
  3. Whoever was in charge of control placement must have flunked human factors design. Why is the sunroof switch next to the tachometer? Why is the dome lamp switch on the other side of the steering column from all the other lighting controls?

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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