Introduced in spring 2005 as a 2006 model, the Honda Ridgeline was the automaker's debut in the North American pickup truck market. Seven years later, the Ridgeline retains most of its original, space-age appearance.
The original Ridgeline, with its innovative look and practical, efficient use of interior space and bed design, was noticed quickly, and it was named Motor Trend's Truck of the Year for 2006.
The Honda Ridgeline still gets stares via its unique design, but it's now a standard fixture in the pickup fraternity. The 2012 offering comes in four trims: RT, Sport, RTS and RTL and all feature a newly designed grille design and improved fuel economy.
The Weekly Driver Test Drive
The Sport trim, my Weekly Driver, is new for 2012. It features a leather-wrapped steering wheel, auxiliary audio jack, rear privacy glass, fog lights and a few appearance tweaks to the base RT trim.
The Ridgeline's strong list of features further defines it as the anti-pickup. It's unlikely Honda likes the description, but it's a compliment.
Honda's lone truck drives like a car. With its upright, firm seats, adept steering and handling, expansive leg and head room and smooth, sturdy and quiet ride, the Ridgeline is as comfortable as most cars in the same price ad well as more expensive models.
The Ridgeline has four-wheel independent suspension and a unibody design. Combined, Honda's design resulted in enough space it debuted as the first pickup with a (lockable) storage trunk below the bed.
It's ideal for luggage or tools. But it also has a liner and a drainage plug, which means the Ridgeline can also be a leisure trunk. Lots of ice can be stored in the trunk for use on a camping trip, for a tailgate party or on a fishing trip.
The Ridgeline also features an innovative tailgate, reminiscent of Ford station wagons in the 1960s.
The tailgate opens conventionally downward with a center handle and when flat it substantially extends the bed. But the tailgate can also be swung to the side like a door, allowing easy access to the bed and trunk.
It's a pickup that rides and drives like a car.
Spacious interior, front and back, floor and ceiling.
Innovative trunk under bed. Let's party.
Smooth steering, smooth turning, quiet for pickup category.
It's a pickup truck, sure, but not the most rugged.
Spare tire awkwardly positioned behind trunk.
Tailgate surprisingly heavy.
Facts & Figures: 2012 Honda Ridgeline
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.6 seconds.
Fuel economy: 15 mpg (city), 21 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: NHTSA (not tested); IIHS, Good.
Engine: 3.5-liter V6/250 horsepower.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $30,095.
Price As Tested: Unavailable.
Manufacturer's Website: www.honda.com.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Power train, 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
"The Honda Ridgeline is the perfect utility vehicle for a soccer dad. It's smart, active-minded and extremely safety-conscious. The pickup truck offers ingenious storage options, a high-tech drivetrain and unique chassis construction. The Ridgeline's styling is unique and hotly debatable. What's not in question are the Ridgeline's comfortable ride, precise handling, and limited, but always spirited, performance.” — Cars.com.
"Ridgeline blends pickup-truck utility with car-like civility in a solid, sensible package. The light-duty design won't suit hardcore truckers but should meet the needs of families and recreational users, as Honda intends. Innovative pickup features and Honda's solid reputation for reliability make it a good competitor in its class.” — Consumer Guide.
"All the pickup most buyers need without the crappy ride-and-handling trade-off.” — Car and Driver.
What The Wife Says:
"If you're used to Honda, that's all I have to say. It's as good as it gets."
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
"There's nothing in my driving habits of lifestyle that necessitates a pickup. I may have to find a new pastime. And when I do, I'm buying a Ridgeline."
Article Last Updated: July 5, 2012.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.