Honda Ridgeline (2006–2014)

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First–generation Honda Ridgeline
2012 Honda Ridgeline-Sport.png
2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport
Overview
ProductionLate 2004 – early 2015
Model years2006–2014
AssemblyFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg Late 2004 – early 2009 at Honda of Canada Manufacturing
Flag of the United States.svg Late 2008 – early 2015 at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
Body and chassis
ClassClass 2a light truck
Body style4-door pickup
LayoutTransversely-mounted front engine, all-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine2006–2008 J35A9 V6:
247 hp (184 kW)/245 lb⋅ft (332 N⋅m)
2009–2014 J35Z5 V6:
250 hp (190 kW)/247 lb⋅ft (335 N⋅m)
TransmissionH5 BJFA 5-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase122 in (310 cm)
Length2006–2008: 206.8 in (5,253 mm)
2009–2011: 207 in (5,258 mm)
2012–2014: 206.9 in (5,255 mm)
Width77.8 in (198 cm)
Height70.3 in (179 cm)
2012–2014 RTL: 71.2 in (181 cm)
Curb weight2006–2008: 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)

The Honda Ridgeline is a pickup truck by American Honda Motor Company[1] and is categorized by some as a lifestyle pickup.[2] The Ridgeline is one of only two trucks produced by the Honda Motor Company—the other being the Honda Acty mini-truck.[3] Both generations of the Ridgeline were/are built using a unibody frame, a transverse-mounted engine, and was/is only offered in a crew-cab short-box configuration with one powertrain.[1][4] According to Honda and automotive journalists, the first–generation (Gen1) Ridgeline (2006-2014) has some additional noteworthy design accomplishments, including:[1][5]

  • An in-bed trunk (an industry first)
  • Ultra-low emissions (an industry first for a truck in North America)
  • An all-wheel drive truck with a fully independent suspension (a segment first)
  • A dual-action tailgate
  • A dent and corrosion resistant half-ton capacity composite bed
  • A large interior for a mid-size pickup

Contrary to some media reporting,[6][7] Honda's publications state that the Gen1 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 Gen1 Acura MDX but was "extensively calibrated and strengthened" for heavier hauling and towing duties.[1]

The Gen1 Ridgeline went on sale in March 2005 as a 2006 model year vehicle.[8] 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."[9] Despite the Gen1 Ridgeline's poor sales,[10] according to the author of Driving Honda, this mid-size pickup was one of the more profitable vehicles for Honda[11] with reported sales in over 20 countries.[12]

Design[edit]

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."[13] It was designed and engineered by Honda Research and Development (R&D) Americas, led by Gary Flint, who took about four years to develop the vehicle.[11][14] According to the author of Driving Honda, the automaker decided to target buyers who were looking to transition out of sedans, minivans, and sport utility vehicles (SUV) into trucks. Honda wanted to build a truck that could "...haul a boat and ATVs, trees, camping supplies, furniture, and wood" while still being comfortable "carrying groceries, kids, grandkids, and dry cleaning."[11] The design was first revealed as the Honda Sport Utility Truck Concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.[1] Later that same year, Honda unveiled a revised version of their pickup concept at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show and announced the name chosen for their pickup truck, the "Ridgeline."[15] 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.[8]

First Generation Honda Ridgeline closed-box four-bone unibody frame.png
Exterior design highlights of the Gen1 Ridgeline
Illustration of how fresh air enters forward of the radiator and is directed to the airbox[16] (2009 RTL with OEM accessory grille[17])
The vortex generators on the side-view mirror smooth airflow and reduce wind noise.[18]
Left-rear quarter of the Gen1 Ridgeline—note the sloping C-pillars, design of the rear roof, and the tailgate's height, all work in concert to improve aerodynamics[18](2011 Chilean RTL with OEM side-steps[19] and back-up sensors[20])

According to Honda, engineers started construction of the Ridgeline by building "a mission-specific platform" using approximately 44% high-strength steel across a fully boxed "four bone" ladder-like frame, leveraging seven high-strength steel crossmembers.[1][21] Honda engineers also created "a unique suspension design with custom components, 100% unique sheetmetal and a 95% exclusive interior" for the Ridgeline.[1] The steel-reinforced fully boxed ladder-like frame, powertrain configuration, and four-wheel independent suspension provided space for designers to build unique storage solutions in, around, and on top of the frame.[1][22] Starting at the front of the Ridgeline, engineers crafted an aluminum hood that supports a unique cold air intake system for the engine that draws outside air from above and in front of the radiator to support torque production and enhances water fording.[1][16] This hood design also allowed engineers to build environmentally protected windshield wipers that are also heated to improve winter performance.[18] Honda also incorporated 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.[18] In the crew-cab, the unibody frame allowed engineers to build a cabin with a flat floor (i.e. no transmission hump) and more passenger space than other mid-size trucks.[1] At the center of the truck, the C-pillar's shape 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.[23] Also, the design of the C-pillar, rear roof section, and tailgate were built to maintain good aerodynamics and reduce turbulence in the bed while maintaining driver visibility. This aerodynamic design allowed them to create a rear roof design that shields the rear glass window so when it's opened at speed there is no buffeting or rainwater intrusion.[18] 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 designs.[24] 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,[1] even under conditions that would cause the SMC to fail[25] or during collisions that would try to force that load into the cab.[1]

Specifications[edit]

Design and functionality of the Gen1 Ridgeline's bed
Gen1 Ridgeline's bed has built-in guides to support hauling of multiple off-road motorcycles or a large ATV[1] (2014 RTL)
Gen1 Ridgeline's dual–action tailgate opened 80° with its in-bed trunk opened highlighting storage of a full-size spare[25] (2009 RTL with OEM accessory roof rack[26] and splash guards[27])
Gen1 Ridgeline's in-bed trunk can fit three golf bags, a 72 US qt (68 l) cooler,[1] or can be used as a cooler itself, just add ice—note the upper-left drain plug and the right-side shelf, designed to support the storage of the tool kit when storing a full-size spare—[25](2014 RTL)

The Gen1 Ridgeline has a 5 ft (1.5 m) cargo bed which can be extended to 6.6 ft (2 m) with the tailgate down.[28] The bed's width between the wheel-wells is 4.1 ft (1.2 m)[28] and 4.6 ft (1.4 m) at its widest points.[1] It includes the "industry's first"[29] lockable, watertight, and drainable 8.5 cu ft (240.7 l) in-bed trunk at the rear of the bed.[1] The cabin can accommodate five adults with 2.6 cu ft (73.6 l) of under-seat storage in the second row[28] or 41.4 cu ft (1.2 m3) when the rear 60/40 split bench seat's bottom cushions are folded up.[30] It has 8.2 in (20.8 cm) of ground clearance with approach, departure and breakover angles of 24.5º, 22º, and 21º respectively.[1]

The Gen1 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).[28] This SUT's steel-reinforced SMC bed is designed to handle loads of up to 1,100 lb (499 kg)[31] 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.[25] 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.[31] Inside the in-bed trunk are integrated cargo hooks and organizer slots to help manage up to 300 lb (136 kg) of material.[1] 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.[25] When laid-down, the Ridgeline's tailgate can handle dynamic loads of up to 300 lb (136 kg).[25] When equipped with a roof rack, the roof is designed to handle a total load of 110 lb (50 kg) to 165 lb (75 kg), depending on model year.[31][32]

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.[31] All models came with a heavy-duty radiator, integrated 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.[18][25][28] 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.[31][33][34]

The Gen1 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.[18][28] It has a turning radius of 42.6 ft (13.0 m) using an 18.5 : 1 variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.[28] 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[35] and 13.1 in (33.3 cm) solid rear discs with floating single piston calipers;[36] each rear disc brake has an integrated emergency/parking brake using a "drum-in-hat" design.[1] The disc brakes are controlled via a four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist.[1] Recorded stopping distances from 60 mph (97 km/h) to 0 have ranged from 117 ft (36 m)[37] to 195 ft (59 m)[38] with the average being 140 ft (43 m)[39] to 147 ft (45 m).[40]

Powertrain[edit]

The Gen1 Ridgeline is powered by a transverse mounted 3,471 cc (212 cu in) 60º V6 engine.[28] 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:[1]

Honda VTM-4 Torque Control Diagram.svg

According to Honda, all Gen1 Ridgelines came equipped with a variable torque management four-wheel drive (VTM-4) system—co-developed with BorgWarner[41]—that provides front-wheel drive for dry-pavement cruising and engages all-wheel drive to improve acceleration, stability, maneuverability, and off-road performance.[1] The VTM-4's electromagnetically driven clutch-operated differential[41] 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.[1] 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.[1]

All these components work together to respond to the Ridgeline's electronic throttle that is also linked to the VTM-4 and VSA systems.[1][34] The automatic transmission uses a four-shaft design with a flat torque converter with 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.[1]

The Gen1 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.[31][32][42] However, when towing over 3,500 lb (1,588 kg), 91 AKI or higher gasoline is recommended.[32][42] 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.[1]

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings for the Gen1 Ridgeline[43][44]
Categories
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

Equipment[edit]

In addition to the features described above, the Gen1 Ridgeline's United States (US) and Canadian base model trims—known as the RT in the US and the LX or DX in Canada—came with other standard equipment, such as:[1][28]

Gen1 Ridgeline's 60/40 split rear-seat, with 40% in the stow position, highlighting the flat load floor (2009 RTL)
Forward cab of the Gen1 Ridgeline (2009 US RTL)
Example of the Gen1 Ridgeline's multi-function center console configurations (2009 US RTL)

For the US market, it was produced in six different trim levels through its lifetime: RT, RTX, Sport, RTS, RTL, and SE.[28][33][47][48]

Example of the Ridgeline RTX grille and rims—note this RTX grille is also sold as an OEM accessory for 2006–2008 model years[49](2007)

The short lived RTX trim took the base RT model and upgraded its exterior components with:[33]

Example of the Gen1 Ridgeline Sport's grille and unique rims—note the red "SPORT" badge in the lower-right corner of the grille—(2012)

The Sport trim took the RT and added:[47]

  • Exterior blackout treatment
  • Fog lights
  • Saw-tooth style black grille with "'SPORT" grille badge
  • 18 in (45.7 cm) polished aluminum alloy rims with black trim, similar in design to the 2009–2014 RTL trim's rims
  • Black interior trim with matching upholstery
  • Auxiliary 3.5mm tip, ring, sleeve (TRS) stereo input jack
  • Steering-wheel mounted audio system controls
2006–2008 center dash with six–disc head unit, storage compartments, dual-zone climate controls, and power outlets—note the climate control's "Dual" sync mode, available on pre–2009 RTS and RTL trims—(2006 RTS)

The RTS trim took the base RT and added some different interior and exterior enhancements from those found in the RTX and Sport trims, such as:[28]

  • Ten-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar support
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Pioneer 160 W six-disc CD player audio system with upgraded speakers and a subwoofer[50]
  • Body colored exterior components
  • 17 in (43.2 cm) machine finished aluminum alloy rims
  • 2009 model year updates added:[34]
    • Power-adjustable lumbar
    • Auxiliary 3.5mm TRS stereo input jack
    • Seven-pin blade trailer wiring harness

For all but the last year of production, the RTL trim was the highest trim package available and came with both exterior and interior enhancements to the RTS trim. Some of the more noteworthy RTL enhancements were found in the interior such as:[28]

  • Leather trimmed upholstery and steering wheel
  • Heated front seats and side-view mirrors
  • HomeLink wireless control system for up to three devices
  • Digital compass in rearview mirror
  • XM Satellite Radio (optional on 2006 RTLs[33])
  • Power moonroof (optional on 2006 RTLs[33])
  • 2009 model year updates added:[34]
    • 18 in (45.7 cm) machine finished aluminum alloy rims, similar in design to the Sport trim's rims
    • Fog lights
    • 115 V/100 W alternating current (AC) inverter
  • 2013 model year updates removed the digital compass from the rearview mirror in lieu of the backup camera display[46][51]
The six-disc CD player is hidden behind the touchscreen which pivots down for access (2009 US RTL)

Optional on the RTL was an Alpine Global Positioning System navigation unit[28][30][31] with a Clarion 160 W XM head unit, Panasonic 8 in (20.3 cm) infotainment touchscreen, and six-disc CD player.[52]

The SE trim was the top trim package for the 2014 model year which included every option available for the RTL and added the Sport trim's appearance package, to include:[48]

  • Exterior blackout treatment
  • Saw-tooth style black grille
  • Similar but unique 18 in (45.7 cm) polished aluminum alloy rims with black trim
  • "SPECIAL EDITION" tailgate badge[53]
  • Black interior with matching leather upholstery

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.[1][54][55][56] As described above, the LX or DX trim were the base trim packages and were very similar to the RT.[1][54] The VP trim was the next in the lineup, sitting somewhere between the RT and RTS.[54] The Canadian Sport trim was the third fanciest in the lineup and was very similar to the Sport trim sold in the US[55] The Special Edition trim was next in the lineup; although it shared the SE's unique rims, grille, badging, and black leather interior, its features put it somewhere between the Sport and RTS trim packages.[57] 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.[1][54][55] For example, it was not until the introduction of the 2009 model year that Honda made the moonroof and XM Satellite Radio standard equipment for the EX-L trim[54] and the introduction of the Touring trim where Canadians were given every option available as standard equipment.[55] Although there were differences in packaging between the US and Canadian trims, the technical differences were the use of daytime running lights on all trim levels and model years, metric system gauges, and Honda's bilingual (English and French) voice recognition and navigation systems.[31][56][58]

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.[59][60][61] The Mexican RTL came equipped very similarly to the Canadian EX-L and retained the optional moonroof of the early EX-L.[60] Unlike the EX-L, navigation was never a factory option.[60][61] Also, the Mexican RTL came equipped with the 2006 through 2008 EX-L rims until the 2012 model year when it was updated with the US and Canadian Sport trim's exterior pieces.[59][61]

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.[62]

The Gen1 Ridgeline was offered in three to seven different exterior colors as well as one to three interior colors, depending on country, model year, and trim level.[56][63][64][65] Exterior colors were based on different shades of black, gray, white, silver, blue, and red as well as some short-lived green and brown colors. All of the exterior colors were monotone with some black and/or chrome plastic trim. Most interior colors ranged between olive, beige, gray, and black. These interior colors were found in the cloth or leather upholstery as well as some of the interior panel covers. Additionally, these interior colors were mated to specific exterior colors and trim levels leaving buyers no means to mix and match interior and exterior color options.[63][65][66]

2011 Ridgeline RTL with OEM accessory bumper trim,[67] grille,[17] side-steps,[19] body-side molding,[68] taillight trim,[69] and roof rack[26] as well as custom 18 in (45.7 cm) rims

In addition to the different features and accessories one could obtain by purchasing certain trim levels, Honda also offered many of them as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) accessories that could be ordered and installed at the dealership. Additionally, there were numerous Honda accessories that did not come on any trim level which could be purchased and installed at the dealership including:[70]

  • Various guards, protectors, and deflectors
  • Roof racks with various accessory mounts
  • Side-steps and running boards
  • Bed extenders and tonneau cover
  • Various organizers
  • Grilles
  • Rims
  • Parking sensors and more…

Updates[edit]

Gen1's two-tone upholstery design
2006 Ridgeline RTL two-tone leather upholstery
2006–2007 Ridgeline two-tone cloth upholstery (2006 RTS)

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.[33] Honda also added a driver-side illuminated vanity mirror to all trim levels[33] and removed the only interior color option available to buyers by deleting the olive interior choice from white painted Ridgelines, leaving only beige.[71] Lastly, Honda swapped three of its exterior colors for slightly different shades of the same base colors while adding "Nimbus Gray Metallic" to the color palette,[33][71] as well as "Taffeta White" for the Canadian market.[72]

For the 2008 model year, the Ridgeline's interior was changed with the removal of their olive interior color,[73] the replacement of two-tone fabric upholsteries with monotone versions,[74] and the male voice on the RTL's navigation system was removed to increase space for more points of interest.[75] Additionally, the Ridgeline's exterior was changed with the removal of its last green exterior color option (Aberdeen Green Metallic)[66][73] and the RTS and RTL trims where outfitted with more polished versions of their alloy rims.[74]

Gen1 Ridgeline's helm changes between 2008 and 2009 model years
Instrument cluster and steering wheel of the 2006–2008 Ridgeline (2006 RTS)
2009–2014 Ridgeline instrument cluster and steering wheel (2009 US RTL)
Transmission ratio changes with introduction of 2009 model year[34]
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.[34] 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
  • PCM, MP3, and WMA compatible 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 TRS stereo input jack, and a seven-pin trailer wiring harness[34] while losing dual-zone climate control synchronization.[32][42] 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.[34][42] 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.[54] A new V6 engine was introduced that produced up to 10 lb⋅ft (14 N⋅m) more torque at lower revolutions per minute (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.[34] 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, called "Mocha Metallic," to the exterior color palette for the US and Canadian markets.[54][76]

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 into Honda's new global "Crystal Black Pearl"—and adding "Alabaster Silver Metallic" to the US and Canadian markets.[77][78]

For the 2011 model year, Honda removed its only brown paint option (Mocha Metallic) from the Canadian lineup.[79]

Fairings were added to the 2012–2014 Ridgeline's front air dam to help improve fuel economy (2012 Sport)

For the 2012 model year, Honda put the Ridgeline through another refresh. Honda introduced a new Sport trim for the US and Canadian markets and replaced the Canadian EX-L trim with a new Touring package. Also, a new grille was introduced for all but the Sport trim, which was equipped with its own unique grille.[47][80] Additionally, new taillights were introduced.[81] For Mexico, their RTL trim received the US and Canadian Sport trim's exterior package while retaining its Canadian EX-L interior.[59][61] All versions received aerodynamic improvements to the body and friction reduction measures were made to the engine,[47] 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.[43][44] Lastly, Honda removed its only brown exterior color option (Mocha Metallic) from the US color palette.[82]

2013–2014 Ridgeline's rearview mirror includes a hidden backup camera with distance guidelines (2014 RTL)

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). —For trims with navigation, the infotainment touchscreen continued to be used as the rearview camera monitor.—[46] With this addition, the digital compass in the RTL trim's rearview mirror was deleted.[46][51] 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.[62] Lastly, Honda swapped its "Bali Blue Pearl" paint for a slightly lighter blue, called "Obsidian Blue Pearl."[83][84]

For the 2014 model year, Honda removed the VP trim from the Canadian lineup and added a new Special Edition package.[57] In the US, the SE trim was introduced surpassing the RTL as the top trim package.[48] Also, Honda replaced its "Polished Metal Metallic" paint for a slightly lighter gray, called "Modern Steel Metallic."[56][65]

Changes to the Gen1 Ridgeline's trim levels
Model year United States Canada
2006 RT, RTS, and RTL (navigation and/or moonroof optional)[63] LX and EX-L (navigation and/or moonroof optional)[1][66]
2007–2008 RT, RTX, RTS, and RTL (navigation optional)[33]
2009–2011 RT, RTS, and RTL (navigation optional)[34] DX, VP, and EX-L (navigation optional)[54]
2012–2013 RT, Sport, RTS, and RTL (navigation optional)[47] DX, VP, Sport, and Touring[80]
2014 RT, Sport, RTS, RTL (navigation optional), and SE[48] DX, Sport, Special Edition, and Touring[57]
Changes to the Gen1 Ridgeline's fascia and rims
2006–2007 RTS, RTL, and EX-L
2007–2008 RTX (with OEM accessory roof rack[26] and running boards[85])
2008 RTL and EX-L (with OEM accessory moonroof visor[86])
2009–2011 US RT and DX
2009–2011 Chilean RTL, RTS (with OEM accessory fog lights[87]), and VP
2012–2014 US RTL and Touring
2013–2014 Chilean RTL
2012–2014 Sport and Mexican RTL
2014 SE and Special Edition
2006–2008 rear bumper with standard left-rear recovery hook
2009–2014 rear bumper with standard class III tow hitch and—on the RTS trim and up—a seven-pin wiring harnesses (with OEM accessory back-up sensors[20])
Taillight design changes from left to right: 2006–2008, 2009–2011, and 2012–2014 model years

Changes in exterior colors to United States' and Canada's Gen1 Ridgelines

Names and paint codes[88] 2006
[63][64]
2007
[71][72]
2008
[66][73]
2009
[54][76]
2010
[77][78]
2011
[79][89]
2012
[55][82]
2013
[83][84]
2014
[56][65]
Formal Black
(NH-707)
RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL DX, VP, and EX-L
Crystal Black Pearl
(NH-731P)
RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, Sport, RTS, Special Edition, RTL, Touring, and SE
Nighthawk Black Pearl
(B-92P)
RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Bali Blue Pearl
(B-552P)
RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Obsidian Blue Pearl
(B-588P)
RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Steel Blue Metallic
(B-533M)
RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Dark Cherry Pearl
(R-529P)
RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RTS, RTL, and Touring
Redrock Pearl
(R-519P)
RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Amazon/Ammanite Green Metallic
(G-521M)
LX, RTS, EX-L and RTL
Aberdeen Green Metallic
(G-525M)
LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Mocha Metallic
(YR-573M)
VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RTS and RTL
Polished Metal Metallic
(NH-737M)
RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, VP, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Modern Steel Metallic
(NH-797M)
RT, DX, RTS, RTL, and Touring
Nimbus Gray Metallic
(NH-705M)
RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Sterling Gray Metallic
(NH-741M)
RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Billet Silver Metallic
(NH-689M)
RT, LX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL
Alabaster Silver Metallic
(NH-700M)
RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, Sport (US), RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, Sport, RTS, Special Edition, RTL, Touring, and SE
White/Taffeta White
(NH-578)
RT, RTS, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, LX, RTX, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, RTS, EX-L, and RTL RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring RT, DX, VP, Sport, RTS, RTL, and Touring DX, Sport, Special Edition, RTL, SE, and Touring

Comparisons[edit]

As depicted on MSN Autos' website, when one compares the Gen1 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 standard 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 Gen1 Ridgeline tends to fall in the middle of these mid-size trucks' published specifications.[90]

NHTSA safety ratings for the Honda Ridgeline:[91][92]
Overall: 5/5 stars
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Driver: 5/5 stars
Side Passenger: 5/5 stars
Rollover: 4/5 stars

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[91] and has the highest rollover resistance of any pickup NHTSA ever tested at 14.3%.[93] 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.[94]

In 2012, PickupTrucks.com 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.[95]

Marketing and sales[edit]

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."[9] According to Bloomberg, Honda hoped buyers would find it an attractive alternative to large SUVs and conventional pickup trucks.[93]

2009 Ridgeline RTL—with OEM accessory brush guard[96] grille,[17] roof rack,[26] body-side molding,[68] and splash guards[27]—towing a 2005 Sea Ray 220 Sundeck sport boat[97]
2006 Ridgeline RTL ascending a steep path on the San Jacinto Ridge Truck Trail, California

Some in the automotive press that have studied the Ridgeline, such as PickupTrucks.com, 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."[98] While AutoTrader.com 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."[99] 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."[100] 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."[101]

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."[102] 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.[93] Additionally, Honda gave the Ridgeline a facelift for 2009 and again in 2012, but sales remained "lackluster," according to AutoBlog.com.[103] 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,[104] possibly due, in part, to parts shortages created by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[105] 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."[104]

Hanover, New Hampshire Police Department custom 2009 Ridgeline RTS police cruiser
Aroostook County, Maine Fire District 1 custom 2007 Ridgeline RTX response vehicle
Matchbox 1:64 scale die-cast of a 2006–2008 Honda Ridgeline RTL and EX-L (with moonroof)
Gen1 Ridgeline sales and production[10][106]
US sales of the Gen1 Honda Ridgeline.png
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 Gen1 Ridgeline ended production in early 2015.[10] According to Auto Trader, the automaker planned to continue production until the Gen2 Ridgeline was introduced; however, "slow sales of the truck have prompted the automaker to pull it sooner than expected."[107] 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 US dollars—half of what General Motors would normally pay—maximizing Honda's profits.[11][14]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]