Honda Ridgeline

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Honda Ridgeline
2006 Honda Ridgeline RTS -- NHTSA 1.jpg
Manufacturer Honda
Production 2005–2014
Model years 2006–2014
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size/full-size sport utility truck
Body style 4-door truck
Layout Transversely-mounted front engine, four-wheel drive
Engine 3.5 L 250 hp 247 lb-ft V6
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 122 in (3,099 mm)
  • 2006-08: 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)
  • 70.3 in (1,786 mm)
  • 2012-2014 RTL: 71.2 in (1,808 mm)

The Honda Ridgeline is a mid-size sport utility truck produced by the Japanese automaker Honda. The Ridgeline was released in March 2005 as a 2006 model and is Honda's first foray into the North American pickup truck market. The Ridgeline was built in Alliston, Ontario and in 2009 its assembly was moved to Lincoln, Alabama.[1] Production ended in mid-2014.[2][3]

In December 2013, the automaker announced it will not give up on the pickup with an all-new Ridgeline that is being planned within two years.[3][4]

First generation[edit]

2005 Honda Ridgeline at the Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto


The Ridgeline is notable "as Honda's first foray into the true heartland of the American automotive way of life."[5] The vehicle was designed and engineered in Honda R&D Americas facilities in Raymond, Ohio.[6] A team of 37 engineers was led by a former General Motors designer who previously worked on the Chevrolet S-10 pickup, Gary Flint, developed the Honda vehicle in over four years at under $250 million.[7] The design was first revealed as the Honda SUT concept car in 2004.

The Honda Ridgeline is built on the Honda Odyssey minivan automobile platform.[3] It has a ladder frame/unibody hybrid chassis featuring four-wheel independent suspension, and its rear suspension design provides space for a watertight storage area below the bed that can be locked to secure its contents that include the spare tire. However, when carrying a load in the bed a flat tire repair can be difficult because any cargo being carried must be cleared to access the spare stored its compartment beneath the load bed. The cargo bed has a composite liner to resist dents and corrosion. A dual-action tailgate is standard that opens conventionally in a downward motion to extend the cargo bed, or swung to one side like a door, easing access into the below bed storage compartment.

The 5-foot (152 cm) cargo bed is integrated with the body, a design similar to the Chevrolet Avalanche. Honda lists a 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) maximum towing capacity for the mid-size Ridgeline pickup.

The 1,500 lb (680 kg) load capacity is highly competitive despite its Honda Pilot crossover based frame and it is higher than conventional body on frame competitors like the Toyota Tacoma.[8]


2007-2008 Honda Ridgeline RTL
2009-2011 Honda Ridgeline
2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, heated windshield wiper parking zones, four wheel drive locking mode, and VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with off switch (for off-road use), and side-curtain airbags. The Ridgeline comes only with bucket front seats, and its fold-up rear seat allows additional cargo space. Four trim levels are available: basic RT, RTX, RTS, and premium RTL (with optional sunroof or moonroof and GPS Navigation).

For 2007 and 2008, an RTX trim version was available. This added gray-painted alloy wheels, an alternate grille, body-colored door handles, and factory tow package. The RTS adds a 6-way power driver's seat, 6-CD changer, subwoofer, body-colored mirrors, silver-painted alloy wheels, and dual zone climate control system. The RTL adds leather trimmed upholstery, and for the 2007 model year, a moonroof and XM radio are standard on the RTL.


The Ridgeline received a facelift for the 2009 model year.

A Sport model was released with the 2012 model year with blacked out bezel surrounding the headlights, 18" machine finished black painted alloy wheels, and a black sport grille.

The 2014 model year Ridgeline may be the last of the generation, but Honda introduced a top level "Special Edition" trim that includes new aluminum alloy wheels and features a navigation system with Zagat restaurant survey information, as well as a hands-free operated XM Satellite Radio.[6]

4WD traction system[edit]

The Ridgeline is powered by a transversely mounted J35A9, (2006–2008) J35Z5, (2009–present) 3.5 L V6 engine with a five speed automatic transmission.

The four wheel drive system operates in front-wheel drive mode under normal conditions and automatically transfers power to either rear wheel via an electromagnetically driven clutch-operated differential (VTM-4, Honda partnered with BorgWarner for its development[9]) when it senses a loss of traction in the front. The clutches in the VTM-4 system can be manually engaged in first, second or reverse gears at speeds under 18 mph (29 km/h), providing an equivalent to a traditional locking differential.

The VTM-4 lock (rear diff lock) works in full rear power mode up until 6 mph (9.7 km/h) then it gradually transitions to power to the front and releases the VTM-4 lock at 18 mph (29 km/h); however, the Ridgeline did so poorly on the same off-road loop used for the Midsize Truck Comparison Test that Edmunds "aborted the loop for fear of breaking something.[10]

"To be fair, the Ridgeline wasn't designed for serious off-roading, something Honda openly admits. With that in mind, VTM-4 is perfectly suited to Honda's V6-powered, unibody pickup truck. It eliminates torque steer, helps acceleration, improves stability on wet or snowy roads and gives the Ridgeline more off-road ability than most truck owners will ever need."[10]


Marketing and sales[edit]

The automaker was slow to enter the minivan market as well as the SUV market, so "given that track record it is no surprise that Honda has just now [2005] gotten around to building a pickup truck" that is not designed to compete against the traditional F-150, Silverado, or Ram domestic models, but to "give the 18% of Honda owners who also own pickups a chance to make their garages a Honda-only parking area."[13]

The Ridgeline is more aptly classified as a sport utility truck with the only other rivals being the Chevrolet Avalanche and Ford Explorer Sport Trac. Other rivals may include the double cab versions of compact pickups like the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier, both of which follow the traditional pickup layout.[14][15]

Honda marketed the Ridgeline as an alternative to traditional full-size pickups such as the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, and Toyota Tundra, all of which had optional V8 engines. In comparison, the Ridgeline's V6 engine powertrain offers insufficient power (Honda has never developed a V8 for passenger vehicles[16]), the lack of ruggedness due to its unibody construction, and its relatively short cargo bed compared to standard pickup trucks, all made it unsuitable for contractors. Unlike the competitor's crew cabs, the Ridgeline also lacks the option of six-passenger seating because a front bench seat is not available.

Honda hoped buyers would find it an attractive alternative to large SUVs, and conventional pickup trucks.[17] The Ridgeline was evaluated as "one of those odd vehicles ... pretending to be something it’s not ... [it] can’t really tow well, it can’t really carry a heavy load well, and it can’t be beaten up too hard. In short, the Ridgeline can’t really do what most people who like trucks need it to do."[18]

An Autotrader evaluation of the Ridgeline described "trucks such as the Chevy Silverado and even the new 2015 Ford F-150 are just too much truck for most people. 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."[19]

Since its debut, "Honda's first pickup for the U.S. market is slow to gain traction" with the Nissan Titan pickup also falling short of sales targets and "even mighty Toyota ... keeps going back to the drawing board after stumbling with undersized and underpowered early truck offerings in this all-American segment," while the domestic automakers are succeeding "by responding swiftly to their customers' changing demands and offering good service and a wide variety of models and engine sizes."[20]

Sales of the Ridgeline were initially slow, partly because it was considered over-priced.[17] Consequently, dealers began to discount the truck, and the average selling price has come down steadily according to J.D. Power.[17] Despite the Ridgeline's slow sales, Honda gave it a slight facelift and added lower-priced Sport model, but the "four-door pickup's sales have been lackluster since its 2006 model year debut."[21]

The automaker took the unusual step of addressing the gossip about the Ridgeline being dropped from the line up "with an official statement confirming the truck is "here to stay."[21]

By 2011, the truck's "sales, which were never great to begin with, lately have been in a free fall" prompting Honda's official media web site to include "an open letter from the company's head to 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."[22]

Parts shortages due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami put production on hold and "this setback likely impacted sales of the already slow-selling pickup," but the company again announced that the Ridgeline "may continue production through 2013."[23]

The automaker's first entry "into Truck Mountain was met with slow sales," but at the end of 2013, Honda announced plans for a second generation in two years' time.[24]

As of 2013 the Honda Ridgeline was available in the United States, Canada, and Mexico in LHD only.

Calendar year US sales
2005 42,593[25]
2006 50,193
2007 42,795
2008 33,875
2009 16,464
2010 16,142
2011 9,759
2012 14,068
2013 17,723[26]
2014 13,389

Second generation[edit]

On July 12, 2013, Honda announced that the Ridgeline will end production after the 2014 model year.[4] The automaker planned to continue production until the replacement was introduced; however, "slow sales of the truck have prompted the automaker to pull it sooner than expected."[27] A redesigned model is expected in 2016, and is not known if the replacement will be an SUT or a traditional body-on-frame truck.[3][4]


  1. ^ Kent, Dawn (2008-11-03). "Honda uses flexible plant idea to keep Alabama workers on the job during tight economy" (Press release). Alabama Secretary of State. Retrieved 2015-02-18. 
  2. ^ Ross, Jeffrey N. (2013-12-10). "Honda promises new Ridgline within two years". Autoblog. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d Truett, Richard (2013-12-16). "Honda commits to 2nd-gen Ridgeline". Automotive News. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  4. ^ a b c "All-new Honda Ridgeline Pickup to Debut Within Two Years" (Press release). 2013-12-10. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  5. ^ Newbury, Stephen (2005). The Car Design Yearbook (4). Merrell. p. 128. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  6. ^ a b Eaton, Dan (2013-11-15). "End of the road for the Honda Ridgeline? 2014 Special Edition may be it, industry speculates". Columbus Business First. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  7. ^ Truett, Richard (2005-06-13). "Crafting a pickup: Ex-GM engineer designed Ridgeline the Honda way". Autoweek. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  8. ^ Boldt, David. "Pickup Payloads: Worth Their Weight?". autotrader. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  9. ^ Kobe, Gerry (2000-06-01). "Honda and Borg-Warner develop VTM-4--the "smart" 4WD system". Automotive Industries. Retrieved 2015-03-28 – via HighBeam Research. 
  10. ^ a b "Full Test: 2006 Honda Ridgeline - Sidebar: Standard 4WD vs. Honda VTM-4". 2005-03-30. Archived from the original on 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  11. ^ Reynolds, Kim (February 2006). "Motor Trend 2006 Truck of The Year: Honda Ridgeline". Motor Trend. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  12. ^ Spinelli, Mike (2005-12-05). "Honda Ridgeline Named Motor Trend's 2006 Truck of the Year". Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  13. ^ Whitfield, Kermit (2005-04-01). "Honda re-thinks the pickup: the Ridgeline comes closer to merging the virtues of both cars and pickup trucks than any other vehicle. Honda calls it the first next generation pickup, but will others follow its lead?". Automotive Design & Production  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  14. ^ "2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport Review". Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  15. ^ "2006 Honda Ridgeline". Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  16. ^ Greimel, Hans (2008-11-01). "When Honda thinks hybrids, it thinks small". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  17. ^ a b c Peterson, Thane (2006-04-26). "Ridgeline's Uphill Climb". Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  18. ^ Williams, Mark (2011-10-08). "What's Going on With the Honda Ridgeline?". Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  19. ^ "2014 Honda Ridgeline SE: Real World Review". autotrader. Retrieved 2015-03-28. 
  20. ^ Tierney, Christine (2005-07-18). "U.S. pickup war getting more rugged". Chicago Sun-Times  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  21. ^ a b Paukert, Chris (2011-11-30). "Honda NA president re-recommits to Ridgeline". autoblog. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  22. ^ Lorio, Joe (2012-01-25). "Driven: 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  23. ^ Nishimoto, Alex (2011-09-19). "Not Dead Yet: Honda Ridgeline May Continue Production Through 2013". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2014-12-01. 
  24. ^ "Honda Ridgeline to Receive a Second Coming". The Truth About Cars. 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  25. ^ [5147d_Honda_2012_Digital_FactBook.pdf "Honda 2012 Digital FactBook"] (PDF). Honda. Retrieved 2015-03-28. Please note that this url contains the "[" and "]" characters, which mess up the ckick-ability within Wikepedia; thus, the whole URL must be manually copied and pasted 
  26. ^ "Honda Sets All-Time December Sales Record to Earn 2nd Best Annual Sales Total for American Honda; Acura Light Trucks Post Best Year in Brand History" (Press release). 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 
  27. ^ Demuro, Doug. "Honda Ridgeline to Take Two Years Off". Auto Trader. Retrieved 2014-06-21. 

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