Introduced in 2005, the Ridgeline was Honda’s first attempt to penetrate the pickup truck market in North America.
How did that work out?
Famously. The Ridgeline was an almost instant success.
In 2010, it was propelled by a transversely-mounted 3.5-litre V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and a full-time all-wheel-drive system. Fuel economy was put at 14.1 litres/100 km in town and 9.8 on the highway.
The Ridgeline never laid claim to being the most powerful pickup and never had a V8 option. But, like most Honda products, it featured an extremely refined and willing engine that was – and is – more than enough to handle what most drivers will throw at it. The all-wheel-drive system featured a front-drive bias, with the rear wheels coming into play when the front ones start to slip.
It was never billed as a working truck but it can accommodate small loads. And Honda claimed it’d handle a couple of bicycles, a pair of dirt bikes, an ATV, or a full-size motorcycle. For big loads, you could also order bed extenders and loading ramps.
A two-way rear tailgate swings open to the left or folds down, and a locking storage compartment under the rear deck holds a surprising amount of gear. Inside, the rear seats can be folded out of the way to provide storage behind the front seats.
Honda said that the interior of the Ridgeline has about the same amount of volume as an Accord. Certainly, this was as comfortable a truck as you’d find and little touches – a steering-column-mounted shift lever and capacious centre storage bin – made everything that much more civilized.
There aren’t a lot of differences between the 2010 and 2011 models. Nor between 2009 and 2010, for that matter. All three vintages were offered in four versions: DX, VP, EX-L and EX-L Navi. The latter two came with all the goodies, such as power sunroof, a security system, leather interior, power front seats, and larger 18-inch wheels and tires.
But all versions have always come well-equipped. A power sliding rear window was standard issue, as was tilt (but not telescoping) steering, eight tie-down cleats and steering-wheel-mounted cruise control.
The EX-L Navi came with a backup camera but this was rendered useless while backing up with the rear gate folded down.
No safety recalls to report, either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The latter organization, however, did have 10 complaints from owners on file. A sampling:
- “All of a sudden, to my surprise and without an opportunity to react, the truck accelerated greatly, propelling itself over a five-inch curb, past two feet of space, and through the wall of a building.”
- “My 75-year-old father had to hold the door closed for nearly 100 miles as he drove to his residence.”
- “While parked on driveway with the front of the vehicle facing west at approximately 6 p.m., the rear passenger window exploded.”
Consumer Reports really liked this one and gave it their Good Bet designation. With the exception of minor “paint and trim” issues, it got top marks in just about every category. Said CR: “While not designed for serious off-roading, it proved capable in most applications.”
Some comments from owners, courtesy of Consumer Reports:
- “Like a Subaru on steroids.”
- “No quality issues other than declining fuel economy.”
- “Amazingly flexible.”
Marketing researcher J.D. Power gave this iteration of the Ridgeline “better than most” grades for overall dependability and predicted reliability. They also noted it was their highest-ranked truck for quality, performance and design.
Owners liked its versatile storage/cargo carrying, but had misgivings about the Ridgeline’s lack of power and worse-than-advertised fuel economy.
From a starting price of just below $35,000 in 2010, the Ridgeline has held up remarkably well. If you can find one, you’ll be lucky to get one for less than $20,000, depending upon the trim level. The top-of-the-range EX-L versions seem to be fetching at least $4,000 to $5,000 more than the base DX.
2010 Honda Ridgeline
Original base price: $34,990
Engine: 3.5-litre V6
Horsepower/torque: 250/247 foot pounds
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.1 city and 9.8 highway, with regular gas
Alternatives: Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Suzuki Equator, GMC Sierra
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).