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HandWiki. Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014). Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 30 May 2024).
HandWiki. Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014). Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed May 30, 2024.
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HandWiki. (2022, October 26). Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014). In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014)." Encyclopedia. Web. 26 October, 2022.
Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014)

{{Infobox automobile | name = Honda Ridgeline (YK1) | image = 2012 Honda Ridgeline Mexican RTL.jpg | caption = 2012 Honda Ridgeline RTL (Mexico) | production = Late 2004 – early 2015 | model_years = 2006–2014 | assembly = Alliston, Ontario, Canada (HCM) (2004–2009)Lincoln, Alabama, United States (HMA) (2008–2015) | body_style = 4-door pickup | layout = Front-engine, four-wheel drive | class = Mid-size pickup truck | related = | engine = 3.5 L J35A9 V6 (2006–2008)3.5 L J35Z5 V6 (2009–2014) | transmission = H5 BJFA 5-speed automatic | wheelbase = 122 in (3,099 mm) | length = 2006–2008: 206.8 in (5,253 mm)2009–2011: 207 in (5,258 mm)2012–2014: 206.9 in (5,255 mm) | width = 77.8 in (1,976 mm) | height = 70.3 in (1,786 mm)2012–2014 RTL: 71.2 in (1,808 mm) | weight = 2006–2008: 4,491–4,552 lb (2,037–2,065 kg)2009–2011: 4,504–4,564 lb (2,043–2,070 kg)2012–2014: 4,491–4,575 lb (2,037–2,075 kg) | successor = Honda Ridgeline (second generation) | manufacturer = Honda Contrary to some media reporting, Honda's publications state that the first generation Ridgeline was a uniquely engineered vehicle with only 7% of its components shared with other Honda vehicles. Its powertrain resembled the one used in the first generation Acura MDX but was "extensively calibrated and strengthened" for heavier hauling and towing duties. The first generation Ridgeline went on sale in March 2005 as a 2006 model year vehicle. Production of the first generation Ridgeline ended in early 2015. According to Honda, the Ridgeline was not designed to steal sales from the more traditional trucks sold in North America, but was developed to "give the 18% of Honda owners who also own pickups a chance to make their garages a Honda-only parking area." Despite the first generation Ridgeline's poor sales, according to the author of Driving Honda, this mid-size pickup was one of the more profitable vehicles for Honda with reported sales in over 20 countries.

rtl.jpg ridgeline automobile

1. Design

From concept to production
Honda's Sport Utility Truck Concept (2004)
2006 Honda Ridgeline RTS

According to the author of The Car Design Yearbook, the Ridgeline was "Honda's first foray into the true heartland of the American automotive way of life—the pickup truck."[1] It was designed and engineered by a 37-member engineering team from Honda Research and Development (R&D) Americas, led by Gary Flint.[2][3] According to the author of Driving Honda, the automaker wanted to target buyers who were looking to transition out of sedans, minivans, and sport utility vehicles (SUV) into pickups.[2] According to Gary, the engineering team's driving vision was a pickup with excellent ride and handling that had traditional pickup capabilities coupled with unique innovations.[4] In 2001, the engineering team began experimenting with their first development mule, an extended version of a first generation Acura MDX with a competitor's pickup bed integrated into the rear structure, which they called "the Hondarado.”[4] After four years of development, the final design was revealed to the public as Honda's Sport Utility Truck Concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.[5] Later that same year, Honda unveiled a revised version of their pickup concept at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and announced the official name of the vehicle, the Ridgeline.[6] The production version of the Ridgeline—which did not stray far from the Sport Utility Truck Concept's design language—was unveiled the following year at the 2005 North American International Auto Show.[7]

Illustration of how fresh air enters forward of the radiator and is directed to the airbox.

According to Honda, construction of the production version of the Ridgeline started with a fully boxed "four bone" "ladder-like frame" using 44% high-strength steel and seven high-strength steel crossmembers.[5][8] This was coupled to "a unique suspension design with custom components," sheetmetal not shared with any other Honda product, and a 95% unique interior.[5] The ladder-like frame, powertrain configuration, and four-wheel independent suspension provided space for designers to build storage solutions in, around, and on top of the frame.[5][9] Starting at the front of the Ridgeline, engineers stamped an aluminum hood that supports a cold air intake system for the engine that draws outside air from above and in front of the radiator to support torque production as well as water fording.[5][10] This hood design also shields the windshield wipers from the environment which are also heated to improve winter performance.[11] Honda also constructed large side-view mirrors to support better visibility while towing; due to their size, Honda incorporated small vortex generators on top of the mirrors to reduce air turbulence.[11] In the crew-cab, the unibody frame allowed for the construction of a cabin with 112 cu ft (3,171 l) of passenger volume and a flat floor (i.e. no transmission hump).[5] At the center of the truck, the C-pillar's buttress was specifically designed to help distribute large loads across the unibody frame and the cab so the truck could achieve its targeted payload and towing figures.[12] Also, the C-pillar, rear roof section, and tailgate were designed to maintain good aerodynamics and reduce turbulence in the bed while maintaining driver visibility. This aerodynamic design helps shield the rear glass window so when it's opened at speed there is no buffeting or rainwater intrusion.[11] The bed is built out of steel-reinforced sheet moulding composite (SMC)—developed by Continental Structural Plastics—which is dent resistant, corrosion resistant, ultraviolet light resistant, has a non-slip coating, and reduces weight by 30% over traditional sheet-metal.[13] The SMC bed is supported by high-strength steel crossmembers (three under the bed and two in the rear cab wall) to safely secure and support heavy loads,[5] even under conditions that would cause the SMC to fail[14] or during collisions that would try to force a load into the cab.[5]

1.1. Specifications

The first generation Ridgeline has a 5 ft (1.5 m) cargo bed which can be extended to 6.6 ft (2 m) with the tailgate down.[15] The bed's width between the wheel-wells is 4.1 ft (1.2 m)[15] and 4.6 ft (1.4 m) at its widest points.[5] It includes the "industry's first"[16] lockable, watertight, and drainable 8.5 cu ft (240.7 l) in-bed trunk at the rear of the bed.[5] The cabin can accommodate five adults with 2.6 cu ft (73.6 l) of under-seat storage in the second row[15] or 41.4 cu ft (1.2 m3) when the rear 60/40 split bench seat's bottom cushions are folded up.[17] It has 8.2 in (20.8 cm) of ground clearance with approach, departure and breakover angles of 24.5º, 22º, and 21º respectively.[5]

The first generation Ridgeline has a weight distribution of 58/42 (front/rear) with a total payload capacity ranging from 1,475 lb (669 kg) to 1,559 lb (707 kg), depending on trim level, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 6,050 lb (2,744 kg) and a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 10,085 lb (4,574 kg).[15] This mid-size truck's steel-reinforced SMC bed is designed to handle loads of up to 1,100 lb (499 kg)[18] and has six (2006–2008 models) or eight (2009–2014 models) tie down cleats rated at 350 lb (159 kg) each. The Ridgeline's bed is also equipped with four bed lights—one integrated into each C-pillar and one in each side-panel at the rear of the bed—that, according to Gary Flint, were designed to support the securing of off-road motorcycles at night and provides a minimum of ten lux of illuminance throughout the bed.[14] The forward section of the passenger-side bed wall has a hidden auxiliary tire mount that can accommodate a compact or full-size spare tire for times when access to the spare tire service tray, via the in-bed trunk, is impractical.[18] Inside the in-bed trunk are integrated cargo hooks and organizer slots to help manage up to 300 lb (136 kg) of material.[5] The tailgate has a dual-action hinging system that allows it to be laid-down in the traditional manner or be swung open either 30º or 80º to the side.[14] When laid-down, the tailgate's asymmetrical cantilevered design[2] can support dynamic loads of up to 300 lb (136 kg).[14] When equipped with a roof rack, the roof is designed to handle loads of 110 lb (50 kg) to 165 lb (75 kg), depending on model year.[18][19]

Honda lists a 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) towing capacity for the Ridgeline while accommodating a 600 lb (272 kg) tongue weight and an additional 330 lb (150 kg) for people and gear.[18] All models came with a heavy-duty radiator, auxiliary transmission and power steering coolers, dual 160 watt (W) radiator fans, and were pre-wired for an electric trailer brake controller and a seven-pin or less trailer wiring harness.[11][14][15] Also, depending on trim level and model year, a class III tow hitch with a four-pin flat and/or seven-pin blade trailer wiring harness was either standard equipment or dealer installed options.[18][20][21]

The first generation Ridgeline has a four-wheel independent suspension using upright springs and dampers with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link trailing arm with twin-tube gas filled hydraulic shocks in the rear providing 7.3 in (18.5 cm) front and 8.2 in (20.8 cm) rear of total wheel travel.[11][15] It has a turning radius of 42.6 ft (13.0 m) using an 18.5 : 1 variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.[15] The Ridgeline has a traditional hydraulic braking system with four-wheel disc brakes using 12.6 in (32 cm) ventilated front discs with floating twin piston calipers[22] and 13.1 in (33.3 cm) solid rear discs with floating single piston calipers[23] and a "drum-in-hat" integrated emergency/parking brake.[5] The disc brakes are controlled via a four-channel anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and Brake Assist.[5]

1.2. Powertrain

The first generation Ridgeline is powered by a transverse mounted 3,471 cc (212 cu in) 60º V6 engine.[15] The aluminum block has thin-walled cast iron liners and has exhaust manifolds that are cast directly into the aluminum cylinder heads. The Ridgeline's J-series engine also has:[5]

  • Belt-driven single overhead camshafts
  • 24-valves
  • Variable valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC)
  • 10 : 1 compression
  • Aluminum variable-length intake manifold
  • Programmed multi-point fuel injection (PFM-FI)

According to Honda, all first generation Ridgelines came equipped with a variable torque management four-wheel drive (VTM-4) system—co-developed with BorgWarner[24]—that provides front-wheel drive for dry-pavement cruising and engages all-wheel drive to improve acceleration, stability, maneuverability, and off-road performance.[5] The VTM-4's electromagnetically driven clutch-operated differential[24] can transfer up to 70% of available torque to the rear-axle. Additionally, the VTM-4 system can be electronically locked providing maximum torque to the rear wheels for better handling of adverse terrain or to assist the driver in becoming unstuck.[5] It also has a four-channel vehicle stability assist (VSA) system that is designed to enhance control during acceleration, cornering, and collision-avoidance maneuvers and can be manually disabled to prevent undesirable throttle intervention in off-road conditions.[5]

All these components work together to respond to the Ridgeline's electronic throttle that is also linked to the VTM-4 and VSA systems.[5][21] The automatic transmission uses a four-shaft design—known as an automated manual transmission[25]—with a flat three-stage torque converter and lock-up clutch that is managed by the PFM-FI's central processing unit. A direct-control real-time pressure management system coordinates engine and transmission operation to minimize driveline shocks and a grade logic controller prevents gear hunting when ascending hills or when more engine braking is required.[5]

The first generation Ridgeline was built with a 22 US gal (83 l) fuel tank and is designed to run on unleaded gasoline with an 86 anti-knock index (AKI) (2006 model year) or 87 AKI (all other model years) and higher.[18][19][26] However, when towing over 3,500 lb (1,588 kg), 91 AKI or higher gasoline is recommended.[19][26] A powertrain control module and a block-mounted acoustic knock sensor work together to either retard or advance ignition timing to maximize the performance available in various gasolines.[5]

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings for the first generation Ridgeline[27][28]
Model Years
2006–2008 2009–2011 2012–2013 2014
NRCan City 16.1 L/100 km 15.7 L/100 km
15.2 L/100 km
NRCan Highway 11.9 L/100 km 11.5 L/100 km
11.3 L/100 km
NRCan Combined 14.2 L/100 km 13.9 L/100 km 13.5 L/100 km 13.4 L/100 km
EPA City
15 mpg‑us
16 mpg‑us
EPA Highway
20 mpg‑us
21 mpg‑us
EPA Combined
17 mpg‑us

1.3. Equipment

In addition to the features described above, according to Car and Driver the United States (US) version of the 2006 Ridgeline's base trim model came with standard equipment not offered in its competition's base trim mid-size trucks of the same model year.[29] As you progress into more equivalent crew-cab, short-box, four-wheel drive mid-size trucks of that year, you still see features not found in the competition, such as:[5][18][30][31][32][33][34][35][36]

  • 8 in (20.3 cm) infotainment touchscreen navigation unit with a 160 W, seven-speaker, AM/FM/XM radio, and six-disc CD player
  • Dual-zone climate control system with multiple front and rear independently controlled air vents
  • Multi–function center console with telescoping armrest, three-tiered expandable storage with various organizers, two cup holders, and a 115 volt (V)/100 W alternating current (AC) power outlet inside
  • Split 60/40 fold-up rear bench seat with fold-down center armrest, lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) system for three child safety seats with three adjustable head restraints, and a rear-passenger 12 V/10 ampere (A) direct current (DC) outlet
  • Four rear-passenger cup holders (one in each rear-door and two in the center armrest)
  • Two shopping bag holders
  • Power sliding rear-window

For the US market, the first generation Ridgeline was produced in six different trim levels through its lifetime, starting in 2006 with the base model RT, followed by the RTS, and the RTL. Additional trims—the RTX, Sport, and SE—were added and/or subtracted from the lineup over the first generation 's lifespan.[20][37][38][39] The base model RT trim came with cruise control, power windows and locks with remote, six-speaker 100 W AM/FM/CD audio system, and more.[29][37] The RTX trim added a class III tow hitch, four and seven-pin trailer wiring harness, Hexagonal style black grille, and 17 in (43.2 cm) gray painted aluminum alloy rims.[20] The Sport trim was similar to the RTX but had an exterior blackout treatment, fog lights, a saw-tooth style black grille, 18 in (45.7 cm) polished aluminum alloy rims with back trim, and added some audio system features.[38] The RTS trim added interior amenities to the base model with an upgraded 160 W/seven-speaker/six-disc audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, as well as 17 in (43.2 cm) polished aluminum alloy rims, among other items.[37] The RTL trim was the leather bound top trim for most of the first generation Ridgeline's production with all of the amenities found in the other trims and added an optional moonroof, 8 in (20.3 cm) infotainment touchscreen navigation unit and XM Satellite Radio.[29][37] The short lived SE trim took the RTL trim and made all of its optional equipment standard, added the Sport trim's exterior appearance as well as its blackout treatment, which continued onto the SE's interior.[39]

For the Canadian market, the Ridgeline was produced in seven different trim levels throughout its production: LX, DX, VP, Sport, Special Edition, EX-L, and Touring.[5][40][41][42] Although there were differences in packaging between the US and Canadian trims, the only technical differences were the use of daytime running lights on all trims and model years, metric system gauges, and bilingual (English and French) voice recognition and navigation system.[18][42][43] The Canadian LX or DX trim were the base trim packages and were very similar to the RT.[5][40] The VP trim was the next in the lineup, sitting somewhere between the RT and RTS.[40] The Canadian Sport trim was the third fanciest in the lineup and was very similar to the Sport trim sold in the US[41] The Special Edition trim was next in the lineup; although it shared the SE's exterior components and blackout treatment, its features put it somewhere between the US Sport and RTS trim packages.[44] The EX-L or Touring trim were at the top of the lineup and were similar to the RTL and SE with a few exceptions.[5][40][41]

For the Mexican market, only an RTL trim was available and had a few twists to its packaging that set it apart from its US and Canadian counterparts.[45][46][47] The Mexican RTL came equipped very similarly to the Canadian EX-L[46] However, unlike the EX-L, navigation was never a factory option.[46][47]

For the Chilean market, the Ridgeline was sold in RT and RTL trims. The Chilean RT was a mix between the Canadian DX and VP trims while the Chilean RTL consisted of options found in the early model Canadian EX-L trim.[48]

The first generation Ridgeline was offered in three to seven different exterior colors as well as one to three different interior colors depending on country, model year, and trim level.[42][49][50][51] All of the exterior colors were monotone with some black and/or chrome trim. Interior colors—which rotated between olive, beige, gray, and black—were mated to specific exterior colors and trim levels leaving buyers no means to mix and match interior and exterior color options.[49][51][52]

2. Updates

For the 2007 model year, the RTX trim package was introduced in the US market as a unique tow-ready version of the Ridgeline. Also the RTL trim package was modified making the moonroof and XM Satellite Radio options standard equipment and its two-tone leather upholstery was redone with new monotone leather.[20] Honda also added a driver-side illuminated vanity mirror to all trim levels[20] and removed the only interior color option available to buyers by deleting the olive interior choice from white painted Ridgelines, leaving only beige.[53] Lastly, Honda swapped three of its exterior colors for slightly different shades of the same base colors while adding an additional gray option to the color palette,[20][53] as well as white for the Canadian market.[54]

For the 2008 model year, the Ridgeline's interior was changed with the removal of their olive color,[55] the replacement of two-tone fabric upholsteries with monotone versions,[56] and the male voice on the RTL's navigation system was removed to increase space for more points of interest.[57] Additionally, the Ridgeline's exterior was changed with the removal of its last green exterior color[52][55] and the RTS and RTL trims where outfitted with more polished versions of their alloy rims.[56]

Transmission ratio changes with introduction of 2009 model year[21]
Gear 2006–2008 2009–2014 Delta
1st 2.693 : 1 2.697 : 1 -0.2%
2nd 1.566 : 1 1.606 : 1 -2.6%
3rd 1.023 : 1 1.071 : 1 -4.7%
4th 0.729 : 1 0.765 : 1 -4.9%
5th 0.531 : 1 0.538 : 1 -1.3%
Rev. 1.888 : 1 1.888 : 1 0%
Final 4.533 : 1 4.533 : 1 0%
Power and torque comparison between the 2006–2008 J35A9 and 2009–2014 J35Z5 engines

For the 2009 model year, the Ridgeline received its first refresh with over 50 different changes, including exterior and interior updates as well as drivetrain improvements.[21] Some of the more noticeable changes were:

  • New front-end with daytime running lights
  • New taillights
  • New rear step-bumper with integrated class III tow hitch
  • Two additional bed cleats
  • New instrument cluster and steering wheel—with all cruise controls consolidated onto the steering wheel
  • Multi-format—pulse-code modulation (PCM), MPEG-1/2 audio layer III (MP3), and Windows media audio (WMA)—CD player
  • Driver and front-passenger active head restraints and more...

In the US, the RTX trim was removed from the lineup and the RTS trim gained a power-adjustable lumbar, an auxiliary 3.5mm tip, ring, sleeve (TRS) stereo input jack, and a seven-pin trailer wiring harness[21] while losing dual-zone climate control synchronization.[19][26] The US RTL trim gained a seven-pin trailer wiring harness, 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims, fog lights, and a 115 V/100 W AC inverter; if equipped with navigation, the US RTL also received a rearview camera, Class 2 Bluetooth with Honda's HandsFreeLink system and a multi-data/multilingual information display.[21][26] For Canadians, a new lineup of trim levels were introduced that more closely resembled the US—moving from the LX and EX–L to the DX, VP, and EX–L trim packages—with the top trim receiving XM Satellite Radio for the first time.[40] A new V6 engine was introduced that produced up to 10 lb⋅ft (14 N⋅m) more torque at lower RPM than its predecessor with a slight horsepower (hp) increase of 3 hp (2.2 kW) at the top of its RPM band. The transmission was also revised with the greatest differences found in third and fourth gears providing approximately 5% lower ratios.[21] Additionally, Honda swapped four of its exterior color options in the US and three in Canada for slightly different shades of the same base colors—this left Canadians with two different black paints to choose from—while adding a light brown color to the exterior color palette for the US and Canadian markets.[40][58]

For the 2010 model year, Honda swapped three of its exterior color options in the US and two in Canada for slightly different shades of the same basic colors—including the consolidation of Canada's two black paints—and added silver to the color palette.[59][60]

For the 2011 model year, Honda removed its only brown paint option from the Canadian lineup.[61]

For the 2012 model year, Honda put the Ridgeline through another refresh. Honda introduced a new Sport trim for the US and Canadian markets with auto system updates such as: auxiliary 3.5mm TRS stereo input jack, steering-wheel mounted audio controls, and a blackout exterior package highlighted with a red "SPORT" grille badge. Also, the Canadian EX-L trim was replaced with a new Touring package. Additionally, a new grille was introduced for all but the Sport trim.[38][62] Additionally, new taillights were introduced.[63] For Mexico, their RTL trim received the US and Canadian Sport trim's exterior package while retaining its Canadian EX-L interior.[45][47] All versions received aerodynamic improvements to the body and friction reduction measures were made to the engine,[38] which improved city and highway fuel economy by 1 mpg‑us and 0.5 to 0.2 L/100 km, according to EPA and NRCan testing respectively.[27][28] Lastly, Honda removed its only brown exterior color option from the US color palette.[64]

For the 2013 model year, all Ridgelines, if not already equipped, were outfitted with rearview cameras using a new rearview mirror that incorporated a camera display with integrated distance guidelines of 1.7 ft (0.5 m), 3.3 ft (1 m), 6.6 ft (2 m), and 9.8 ft (3 m). With this addition, the digital compass in the RTL trim's rearview mirror was deleted.[65][66] Pictorial evidence suggest the Chilean market received the 2012 updated taillights as well as the 2009 18 in (45.7 cm) alloy rims for their RTL trim.[48] Lastly, Honda swapped its blue paint for a slightly lighter blue.[67][68]

For the 2014 model year, Honda removed the VP trim from the Canadian lineup and added a new Special Edition package.[44] In the US, the SE trim was introduced surpassing the RTL as the top trim package.[39][69] Both the Canadian Special Edition and the US SE can be identified by their unique 18 in (45.7 cm) polished alloy rims with black trim and a "SPECIAL EDITION" tailgate badge.[39][44] Also, Honda replaced its dark gray paint for a slightly lighter gray.[42][51]

Changes to the first generation Ridgeline's fascia and rims
2006–2007 RTS, RTL, and EX-L
2007–2008 RTX (with OEM accessory roof rack[70] and running boards[71])
2008 RTL and EX-L (with OEM accessory moonroof visor[72])
2009–2011 US RT and DX
2009–2011 Chilean RTL, RTS (with OEM accessory fog lights[73]), and VP
2012–2014 US RTL and Touring
2013–2014 Chilean RTL
2012–2014 Sport and Mexican RTL
2014 SE and Special Edition

3. Comparisons

As depicted on MSN Autos' website, when one compares the first generation Ridgeline's advertised interior, passenger volume, and total payload with the other mid-size trucks of its era—the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Suzuki Equator, Dodge Dakota, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Ford Ranger, and GM's Colorado/Canyon—the Ridgeline has more amenities, greater interior space, and greater hauling capacity than its competition. However, when comparing the manufacturers' tow ratings the Ridgeline is at the bottom of its class. Excluding these extremes, the first generation Ridgeline tends to fall in the middle of these mid-size trucks' published specifications.[74]

NHTSA safety ratings for the Honda Ridgeline:[75][76]
Frontal Driver:
Frontal Passenger:
Side Driver:
Side Passenger:
File:NHTSA Crash Test of the 2006 Honda Ridgeline.ogv

The Ridgeline is the first four-door pickup truck to earn the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) five-star safety rating for both front and side impact crash test performance[75] and has the highest rollover resistance of any pickup NHTSA ever tested at 14.3%.[77] Also, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the Ridgeline and awarded the 2009, 2012, and 2013 model years with its "Top Safety Pick" award.[78]

In 2012, conducted a mid-size truck challenge with six of the eight trucks listed above (minus the Dakota and Sport Trac) and the Honda Ridgeline. With the exception of a 2011 super-cab Ford Ranger, all test vehicles were 2012 models and all but one had V6 engines (the Colorado was equipped with the LH8 V8). The head-to-head comparisons focused on numerous attributes including objective tests on 0-60 mph (97 km/h), 60-0, and quarter-mile (0.4 km) times with maximum payloads as well as empty beds; dynamometer tests; and real-world fuel economy tests. Subjective tests included expert driver impressions, best value estimates, and an off-road course. All tests and evaluations were conducted at the same place and time to minimize environmental impacts. Of the seven mid-size trucks tested, the Ridgeline ranked third overall. Of the objective tests, the Ridgeline had the highest scores for payload and real-world fuel economy while ranking lowest in torque delivery at the wheels; otherwise, the Ridgeline ranked in the middle of the other objective tests. Of the subjective tests, the Ridgeline was judged second in expert impressions, third in best value, and last in the off-road course.[79]

4. Marketing and Sales

According to Automotive Design & Production, Honda was slow to enter the minivan and SUV markets, so "given that track record it is no surprise that Honda has just now [2005] gotten around to building a pickup truck."[80] According to Bloomberg, Honda hoped buyers would find it an attractive alternative to large SUVs and conventional pickup trucks.[77]

2009 Ridgeline RTL towing a 2005 Sea Ray 220 Sundeck sport boat

Some in the automotive press that have studied the Ridgeline, such as, consider it "one of those odd vehicles." They wrote, "The Ridgeline can't really do what most people who like trucks need it to do."[81] While wrote, "Sure, some homeowners and weekend warriors may actually need a 10,000-lb towing capacity, but the Honda Ridgeline is probably just right for most."[82] Motor Trend conducted a long-term road test of the 2006 Ridgeline and stated that they "fully expected the hard-cores to be outraged" suggesting they would proclaim "It's a modified minivan," it "didn't qualify as a truck because of its unibody chassis and transverse-mounted engine," and that "it looks funny." After a year in their long-term fleet, Motor Trend stated "the Ridgeline has ultimately made a few converts among our car-loving staff, some of whom would never consider themselves fans of anything with a pickup bed." They wrapped up their long-term review by stating that whatever their next long-term vehicles is, "it's likely not to be as versatile as the Ridgeline. We'll miss this urban-suburban and mountain Swiss Army knife for sure."[83] Others in the automotive press, such as The Driver's Seat TV, had similar views and also call the Ridgeline, "the Swiss Army knife of trucks." They also called the Ridgeline "the anti-truck"—due to Honda's lack of following the rules—and summarized their view by saying "the Ridgeline scores high on practicality but very low on image."[84]

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, "Since its March [2005] debut, Honda's first pickup for the US market is slow to gain traction. Nissan's full-size Titan pickup also has fallen short of sales targets in this all-American segment, which ... is proving tough for outsiders to crack."[85] According to Bloomberg Business, early slow sales can partly be attributed to the expense of the vehicle, which some considered "over-priced." Consequently, dealers began to discount the truck and sales increased.[77] Additionally, Honda gave the Ridgeline a facelift for 2009 and again in 2012, but sales remained "lackluster," according to[86] During the time period of the Great Recession, Automobile Magazine wrote that Ridgeline sales "dropped by half from 2008 to 2010 and then fell another 40%" in 2011,[87] possibly due, in part, to parts shortages created by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[88] Soon after, Honda posted "an open letter from the company's head of truck product planning, denying rumors that the Ridgeline would be dropped and insisting that a pickup truck will remain part of the company's portfolio."[87]

First generation Ridgeline sales and production[89][90]
Calendar year US sales CA sales Production
2004     199
2005 42,593 3,512 60,679
2006 50,193 4,988 56,866
2007 42,795 4,519 55,150
2008 33,875 3,987 25,264
2009 16,464 3,546 16,180
2010 16,142 3,200 20,180
2011 9,759 1,713 13,356
2012 14,068 2,226 21,361
2013 17,723 2,122 19,557
2014 13,389 1,803 10,015
2015 520 229 154
2016 3 8  
Total sold in United States and Canada = 289,377
Other (including other country sales) = 9,585
Total produced = 298,962

The first generation Ridgeline ended production in early 2015.[89] According to Auto Trader, the automaker planned to continue production until the second generation Ridgeline was introduced; however, "slow sales of the truck have prompted the automaker to pull it sooner than expected."[91] Despite this, the Ridgeline was one of Honda's more profitable vehicles due in large part to the company's frugal nature that allowed them to develop and deploy the Ridgeline for under $250 million United States dollar —half of what General Motors would normally pay—maximizing Honda's profits.[2][3]

5. Awards

  • North American Car of the Year for 2006[92]
  • Canadian Car of the Year and Best New Pickup for 2006[93][94]
  • Motor Trend's 2006 Truck of the Year[92]
  • Car and Driver's #1 mid-size truck for 2006,[95]
  • Autobytel's 2006 Truck of the Year[96]
  • Sobre Ruedas ("On Wheels," a Latin American automotive magazine) 2005 Best Pick-up Truck[96]
  • J.D. Power and Associates' automotive performance, execution, and layout (APEAL) Award for 2006–2008[8][96]
  • Popular Mechanics' 2006 Automotive Excellence Award for functionality[96]
  • Society of Plastics Engineers 2006 Grand Award for the composite in-bed trunk[97]
  • NHTSA's first four-door pickup to earn five-star safety rating[77][92]
  • IIHS's "Top Safety Pick" award for 2009, 2012, and 2013[78]
  • SCORE Baja off-road race winner in the Stock Mini Class in 2008[98] and 2010[99]


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