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Motoring: Pick up the Honda Ridgeline Sport pickup

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 9th, 2012

When people think about Honda, they generally think of the Civic and Accord. While they are both fine automobiles, Honda does have other noteworthy products in its lineup.

Take the Ridgeline, for instance. It is the first pickup truck from Honda to be sold in Canada, and when it first came out in 2005, it got great reviews. However those accolades didn't really translate into sales. The Ridgeline sells in decent numbers, but it hasn't set the sales floor on fire.

Honda hopes to attract more buyers with the revised 2012 version. It has changed the styling a bit to give it a more aggressive look and given the interior a few changes too, but nothing major. It is essentially the same truck as it ever was, which is no bad thing.

Under the hood, you still get that wonderful 3.5-litre V6 motor that produces 250 hp and 247 lb/ft of torque. You also still get that ancient five-speed automatic gearbox, which Honda seems to throw in to everything they build. While it works fine, they should have installed the six-speed automatic from the Acura ZDX in here.

The main disadvantage of only having five speeds is the fuel economy, although I managed a respectable 13.7 litres/100 km, a number that can surely improve with a newer gearbox.

The Ridgeline still retains its unibody construction, which makes this pickup truck unique compared to every other pickup truck on the market, all of which use the bodyon- frame setup.

The advantage this gives the Ridgeline is stiffness, which not only helps with its ride and handling, but also its comfort, hence this is the most car-like pickup truck in the market, which is great. I have driven plenty of pickup trucks over the years, and most of them I could not wait to get out of. I can drive the Ridgeline all day.

Or, at least, I would if I liked the driver's seat more. I might be in a minority with this, but I could never quite get fully comfortable in this vehicle, no matter how hard I tried to set the seat. Your front and back passengers won't complain about space; there is plenty of that in here.

But, yes, the main reason anyone would buy a pickup truck is for its cargo space, and the Ridgeline offers plenty of that too. The cargo bed is 1524 mm long and 1257 mm wide, which might not be the biggest bed in the business, but thanks to its clever under-floor cargo areas, you can get quite a few things in that trunk. Plus, you can open up the trunk-space even more by folding down the pass-through and folding away the rear seats. You can also tow an impressive 5000 lbs. This truck is very practical.

It isn't the best equipped vehicle, though. My Sport trim vehicle had cloth seats, a stereo and not much else. More equipment is available at a cost.

However, while lots of companies are still offering the option of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive for their trucks, Honda has made its VTM-4 all-wheel drive system standard on the Ridgeline.

Pricing could have been stronger though, as even the base Ridgeline will cost you $34,990. My Sport test vehicle was $37,690 and that is before you add freight and all the other fees levied on vehicles, plus taxes. The Touring version starts at an astronomical $41,990. So while it is good, it is a bit pricey, hence the reason its sales numbers have been lacking since it hit the market.

However, like all Hondas, it will be reliable and will run for a very long time. If you want a vehicle you can drive for 20 years with minimum mechanical work needed, a Honda always makes sense. If you are a business owner who needs to haul average-sized loads every now and then, then the Ridgeline will make sense for you as well.
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