The History Of Honda Ridgeline

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 intended first foray into the North American pickup truck market. The Ridgeline is built in Alliston, Ontario, Canada alongside the Acura MDX, Honda Civic, Honda Civic Si, and Acura CSX. The Ridgeline was awarded Motor Trend's Truck of the Year for 2006. The Ridgeline is the only car-based pickup in the United States and Canada.

Unibody architecture

The Honda Ridgeline uses unibody architecture ladder frame / unibody hybrid chassis. Honda claims this design gives it 2.5 times more bending rigidity and 20 times the torsional rigidity than the standard ladder frame only type of chassis construction, while retaining the load carrying capacity of the traditional ladder frame.

Independent rear suspension

The truck also boasts four-wheel independent suspension which, coupled with the unibody design, provides a new level of stable and sure handling under load well beyond that which could be achieved with older platforms.

A pickup with a trunk

Another advantage of the independent suspension is that it opened up enough space for Honda to create the first pickup truck to include a storage trunk below the bed, which can be locked to secure contents, such as a tool chest. This creates the unfortunate problem of having to remove most of the bed contents (a serious problem when hauling top soil or other granular materials) to change a flat tire, as the spare is located in this trunk. The bed also comes standard with a composite liner that resists dents, corrosion, and can easily be hosed clean. The trunk has drainage holes to allow wash water to flow out.

Dual action tailgate

It became clear to designers that a lowered tailgate created too long a reach for a consumer to get into the trunk. However, the relatively short bed was built with a lowered tailgate acting as an extension in mind, so a conventional tailgate action was not dismissible. Engineers met this challenge with the first dual action tailgate in a pickup. It was preceded by the tailgate used in the 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon, as well as the tailgate used in the 2003 GMC Envoy XUV. To aid access to the trunk, the Ridgeline features a dual hinged tailgate, which in addition to opening conventionally in a downward motion that can handle a load in the horizontal open position, can also be swung to the side like an actual door, allowing a consumer to stand straight up at the rear bumper and reach down into the trunk with ease.

The bed is integrated with the body, similar to the Chevrolet Avalanche. It is rated as having a 5,000lb (2,268kg) towing capacity and a 1,500lb (680kg) bed capacity

Honda says that as a result of market research they concluded that a truck with robust yet medium-duty off-road capability was most consistent with the needs of the customer.


Anti-lock brakes, heated windshield, four wheel drive locking mode, and VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with off switch (for off- road use), and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment. The Ridgeline also has a large rear seat with the ability to fold-up creating a floor to ceiling cargo space. Four trim levels are available: basic RT, RTX, sport RTS and premium RTL (with optional moonroof or moonroof and GPS Navigation).

The RTX, introduced with the 2007 model, adds gray-painted alloy wheels, an alternate grille, body-colored door handles, and factory tow package. The RTS offers different upholstery material and adds a 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 has received a facelift for the 2009 model year.

The Ridgeline is powered by a transversely mounted J35A91, (2006-2008) J35Z5, (2009-????) 3.5L V6 with a five-speed automatic transmission.

The all-wheel drive system operates in front-wheel drive mode under normal conditions and automatically transfers power to either rear wheel via a locking differential when it senses a loss of traction in the front. The VTM-4 system can be locked in first, second or reverse gears at speeds under 18mph (29km/ h).

The VTM-4 lock (rear diff lock) works in full rear power mode up until 6mph (9.7km/ h) then it gradually transitions to power to the front and releases the VTM-4 lock at 18mph (29km/ h) .

The all-wheel drive system has been tested on and has completed the following obstacle course by Honda engineers.

The list of test courses includes:

28-degree dirt hill, Sand hill, Water pit, Rock roads, Embedded log course, Step-up, step-down, Sand drag strip, Gully course, Ground contact course, Washboard road, Frame twister, Power hop hill (23-degree slope with rippled surface), Gravel road, Startable grade,

The Honda Ridgeline completed the Baja 1000 (November 06) in the Stock Mini Class. All vehicles in the Stock Mini Class compete with a stock engine, transmission and 4WD system.

  • Motor Trend truck of the year 2006
  • North American Truck of the year 2006
  • Detroit News truck of the year 2006
  • Consumer Reports top rated truck
  • J.D. Power & Associates 2005 APEAL award for the Honda Ridgeline
  • Autobytel 2006 Editors' Choice Award: Truck of the year 2006
  • Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Best New Pickup 2006
  • On Wheels Incorporated: Ridgeline 2006 Urban Wheel Award for the Urban Truck of the Year
  • Strategic Vision's coveted "Most Delightful" compact pickup award
  • Best rollover resistance rating of any pickup tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety, Administration (NHTSA)
  • First-ever 4-door pickup to earn a 5-star safety rating for both front and side impact crash, test performance from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Society of Plastic Engineers 2005 Grand Award (composite embed trunk)
  • Car And Driver Rates Honda Ridgeline #1 Pickup, AutoWeek Editors' Choice Award as the 'Most Significant' new vehicle in the show
  • Maxim Truck Of The Year 2006
  • 2007 Automobile Magazine All Star award Top 10 cars for 2007

Although the Ridgeline is more aptly classified as a sport utility truck, this recently-introduced category is not well known with consumers, with the only other rival being the Chevrolet Avalanche. Honda decided instead to advertise the Ridgeline as an alternative to traditional 1/ 2 ton full-size pickups such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Toyota Tundra, all of which had standard V8 engines. This likely harmed Ridgeline sales, as some cited its weak V6 engine (Honda has never developed a V8 for passenger vehicles) and lack of ruggedness due to its unibody construction, while its relatively short cargo bed compared to a standard pickup truck made it unsuitable for contractors. Unlike other crew cabs, the Honda Ridgeline lacks the option of 6-passenger seating, as it only offers bucket seats and not bench seating in the front.

Sales were initially slow, partly because it was considered over-priced. Consequently, dealers have been discounting the truck (which is unusual for a Honda product), and the average selling price has come down steadily according to J.D. Power. Sales are starting to climb, though they are still a fraction of the market leading Ford F-150.

Monthly U.S. sales

Monthly Canada sales

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