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Thread: 2007 Honda Ridgeline (it's not a real truck - but so what?)

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2007 Honda Ridgeline (it's not a real truck - but so what?)



    The Ridgeline isn't a bad vehicle by any means. It just hasn't sold as well as Honda had hoped -- mainly, it can be argued, because of unflattering (and unfair) comparisons to traditional pick-ups.

    And that's more Honda marketing's fault than the Ridgeline's.

    On the upside:

    Ridgeline offers a roomy and comfortable five-passenger cab with four full-size doors and a clever five-foot-by four-foot cargo bed with flush mounted lights, multiple tie-downs, composite liner and an additional 8.5 cubic foot lockable storage area tucked into the floor of the bed. This little cubby has a drain plug, too -- so you can fill it up with ice and a 12 pack of whatever. Or use it to stow live bait -- and carry home your catch. It's also a great place to stash expensive tools, etc.

    It has standard AWD, decent ground clearance (9 inches) and can even tow up to 5,000-lbs. when properly equipped. That's better than most large sedans, crossover wagons and minivans. (Although it's still considerably less than the 7,000-9,000 lb. ratings typical of most medium and full-size conventional trucks. More on that below.)

    There's versatility -- including several 12V power points in the cab, about a dozen storage bins and an expandable, "deep dish" center console. A smart two-way tailgate can be opened swinging door style -- or laid down flat, just like a regular pick-up's. With the tailgate down, the Ridgeline can cart a 4x8 sheet of USB -- or a load of of 2x4x8s. I used my tester to carry a gas-powered tiller and various unwieldy/oversized stuff down the road to a buddy's house -- and the Ridgeline was as useful for this job as my Nissan Frontier. Maybe more so, since my truck doesn't have an integrated composite bedliner like the Ridegline does.

    So far, so good. But here's where the trouble begins.

    Though the Ridgeline looks like a medium-sized pick-up truck -- and is marketed as such by Honda -- it lacks two things most of the vehicles it competes against have or offer as optional equipment -- a V-8 engine and a "real truck" 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case and Low range gearing.

    Instead, the Ridgeline has a full-time AWD system and a standard V-6 engine. These aren't defects -- just differences -- but they do put the Ridgeline at a disadvanatge when the talk turns to off-road capability, towing numbers and other "real truck" bragging points.

    And it's Honda's fault for putting the Ridgeline in the position of having to defend itself on these points instead of touting itself as an alternative to the traditional pick-up that might actually work better for the typical soccer mom/suburbanite buyer.

    For instance, Honda's Variable Torque Management full-time all-wheel-drive system arguably gives the Ridgeline a leg up over 2WD pick-ups. Remember: 4WD is optional on most trucks -- and a 2WD truck can be more helpless in poor weather than a front-drive passenger car. And the part-time 4WD systems used in most trucks are not intended for use on dry, paved roads. Most of the time, you're driving around in 2WD (or should be).

    The Ridgeline's lighter-duty AWD system may not be the best choice for going off-road -- but it should have no trouble getting you out of the driveway when it snows. And it works "full time" -- providing a 24-7 traction/handling advantage even when you are driving on dry pavement in the middle of summer.

    Meanwhile, on those days when it's not snowing, you'll enjoy a smoother ride and more precise, car-like handling characteristics than most any conventional truck can offer.

    Though engineers have worked near-miracles with modern pick-ups to make them more agreeable to soccer moms and suburbanites, there's only so much you can do with the basic layout -- at least, without also seriously compromising off-road capability, etc.

    It's a Catch-22 situation.

    Unless you redefine the equation -- which is precisely what Honda has done.

    Instead of the typical (and heavy) body-on-frame construction used as the foundation for most pick-ups, the Ridgeline is built on a modified passenger vehicle frame and chassis -- a beefed-up version of the same platform used to make the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX, to be specific.

    The result is a vehicle that behaves very much like the wagon/crossover/car (take your pick) that it is under its pick-up-looking skin. The back end doesn't suddenly become alarmingly light when you brake suddenly (a common problem with conventional pick-ups, especially 2WD models -- which have most of their weight up front). Nor does it feel like the tail's going to come around on you in a corner. Its fully-independent suspension absorbs bumps and dips in the road without the up and down oscillations you sometimes get in a live axle pick-up when traveling older, poorly maintained roads.

    The Ridgeline's more comfortable to drive -- and it's also very safe. The sudden instability/loss of control/susceptibility to rolling over that has long been an issue with pick-ups and truck-based SUVs is not an issue for the Ridgeline. Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Ridgeline the best ratings possible in both its Static Stability Factor and Dynamic Rollover tests --making it the first for door pickup to ever receive NHTSA's 5-star rating.

    Supplementing the basic soundness of the Ridgeline's design are active and passive safety features such as standard ABS with Brake Assist, traction and stability control, plus side impact and curtain air bags.

    Some "truck guys" mock Honda for not offering a V-8 in the Ridgeline -- but let's look at the numbers. The Ridgeline's standard 247 horsepower 3.5 liter V-6 offers more power than the standard V-6 in the class-leading Ford F-150 (202 horsepower) and virtually the same power as the F-truck's optional 4.6 liter V-8 (248 hp).

    Granted, the Ridgeline's not a mechanical Pro Bowl linesman like, say, the Nissan Titan or a Hemi-equipped Ram 1500. But that's not what this vehicle is about -- even though Honda hasn't done a particularly good job of making that clear.

    If you really need a "real truck" -- fine, go get you one. There are plenty of choices.

    But if you need something different -- and in its own way, better in several key areas than a traditional truck -- give the Ridgeline a look.

    You might find it suits you better than the real McCoy.

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: 2007 Honda Ridgeline (it's not a real truck - but so what?)

    Typo:
    making it the first for door pickup to ever receive NHTSA's 5-star rating.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: 2007 Honda Ridgeline (it's not a real truck - but so what?)

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Typo:
    making it the first for door pickup to ever receive NHTSA's 5-star rating.
    Ah, so!

    That's what I get for typing with two fingers!

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