|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-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|
|Wheelbase||122 in (3,099 mm)|
|Width||77.8 in (1,976 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. Production ended in mid-2014.
The Ridgeline is "Honda's first foray into the true heartland of the American automotive way of life." The vehicle was designed and engineered in Honda R&D Americas facilities in Raymond, Ohio. 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. The design was first revealed as the Honda SUT concept car in 2004.
Honda engineers developed the Ridgeline using the Honda Pilot and MDX "as a base to start building what we targeted as additional truck structure back into the vehicle." It has a closed-box unibody frame with four-wheel independent suspension, and its rear suspension design provides space for a watertight 8.5 cubic foot storage area, including the spare tire, below the bed that can be locked. Since accessing the compartment would be difficult with a loaded bed, the 2014 Owner's Manual describes a "temporary mounting location" for a spare tire that is provided on the right side of the bed wall by the cab's rear window.
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 Ridgeline 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. Only bucket front seats are offered, and its fold-up rear seat allows additional cargo space on a flat load floor (no transmission hump). Five trim levels are available: basic RT, Sport, RTS, RTL, and SE. The Sport model replaced the RTX in 2009 and the SE model was introduced in 2014.
The short lived RTX trim added gray-painted alloy wheels, body-colored door handles, and factory tow package. while the Sport trim that replaced it added a unique black grill, unique wheels, and special badging. The RTS added 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 added leather trimmed upholstery, XM radio, and 18-inch machine-finished silver alloy wheels. Optional on the RTL was GPS navigation with voice recognition; Bluetooth was added to RTLs with navigation in 2009. The SE trim was the top of the line model which included every option for the RTL and added a unique back grill, polished aluminum 18-inch wheels, and special badging.
The Ridgeline's was upgraded for the 2009 model year with over 50 changes. These included a new front end, factory tow hitch, two additional bed cleats, backup camera, a redesigned engine, a revised transmission, an updated instrument cluster, new steering wheel, and the addition of Bluetooth. The new engine (J35Z5) produces three more horsepower and up to 10 more foot-pounds of torque at lower RPMs than its predecessor.
A Sport model for the 2012 model year added blackout treatment on the bezels surrounding the headlights and brake lights, a black sport grille, 18-inch machine finished black painted alloy wheels, and unique sports badging.
The 2014 model year Ridgeline may be the last of the generation, but Honda introduced a top level "Special Edition" trim that includes new polished aluminum alloy wheels, a unique grill, and badging.
4WD traction system
The Ridgeline's four wheel drive system, the Variable Torque Management Four Wheel Drive (VTM-4), operates in front-wheel drive mode under normal conditions and automatically transfers power to either rear wheel via an electromagnetically driven clutch-operated differential (Honda partnered with BorgWarner for its development) when the system 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 poorly on the off-road loop used for the Mid-size Truck Comparison Test that Edmunds "aborted the loop for fear of breaking something." The automaker admits "the Ridgeline wasn't designed for serious off-roading" and an evaluation of Honda's VTM-4 system by Edmunds summarizes its ability as "more than most truck owners will ever need."
Marketing and sales
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  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."
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.
Honda hoped buyers would find it an attractive alternative to large SUVs, and conventional pickup trucks. Some in the press that have evaluated the Ridgeline consider it "one of those odd vehicles..." Pickuptrucks.com wrote, "The Ridgeline can't really do what most people who like trucks need it to do." When comparing the Honda to full-size trucks, the mid-sized Ridgeline falls short.
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." The Ridgeline's specifications and performance numbers are competitive against other mid-size trucks, such as the crew-cab short-box models of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.
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."
Sales of the Ridgeline were initially slow, partly because it was considered over-priced. Consequently, dealers began to discount the truck, and the average selling price has come down steadily according to J.D. Power. 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."
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."
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."
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."
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.
As of 2013 the Honda Ridgeline was available in the United States, Canada, and Mexico in LHD only.
|Calendar year||US sales|
On July 12, 2013, Honda announced that the Ridgeline will end production after the 2014 model year. 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." 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.
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|Sport Utility Truck||Ridgeline|