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A little while ago, the compact truck class underwent an exodus by auto manufacturers growing tired of pumping money towards R&D for a product that American car-buyers gave little margin for profit. Honda, on the other hand, stuck with their unconventional midsize truck and aim to continue in 2013 with the success it has found in this downsized segment.
Coming off a mid-cycle update in 2012, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline arrives without many new features, the most notable being the addition of a standard backup camera. The only powertrain available is a 3.5L V6 equipped to a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Though this engine is great for daily driving, it can struggle when towing heavy loads including those within the 5,000 lb capacity.
Due to the unibody construction, the Ridgeline exhibits an almost car-like ride yet will still let you know if your bed is empty or not when going over bumps. Just debuting the Sport trim in 2012, Honda offers Ridgeline customers four trim levels to choose from, including the RT, RTS and RTL. With the RT as the base model, the Sport trim adds an aggressive appearance while the RTS equips more interior features. Not to be forgotten, the top-of-the-line RTL is available with Honda’s satellite-linked navigation system. Yet on every model drivers can utilize the Ridgeline-exclusive dual-action tailgate and in-bed lockable trunk that are a big reason for this Honda truck’s cult-like following. Moving inside, shoppers will find a cabin almost as functional as the exterior that carries it along. Though interior materials are quite hard, the Ridgeline’s front seats are supportive and soft. As is common in crew cab trucks, the comfort enjoyed up front is lost on the rear, which does its’ best by means of a 60/40 lift-up bench seat with storage underneath.
As previously mentioned, this segment including trucks less than a half-ton has suffered in the recent past; but with the market’s shift towards efficiency and utility, the demand for midsize trucks has risen again. This cannot be more evident than in the recent investment made by GM into producing an all-new GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado for 2013. Another option, the Toyota Tacoma is available with a crew cab plus a long bed for fitting lengthier cargo items. If you aren’t planning on towing significant weight, the Tacoma’s base 4-cylinder engine will save on gas. For buyers not completely turned off by a full-size truck, the new 2013 Ram 1500 is available with a fuel-efficient V6 and the Chevrolet Silverado's V8 shares identical MPG-numbers with the Ridgeline's V6.
Offering a truck’s utility with car-like handling, the Honda Ridgeline’s unique capabilities should attract many types of shoppers.
Asking a base price among the highest in its’ class, the Ridgeline RT comes loaded with standard equipment. The Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive system uses a locking rear differential for conquering demanding terrains. Another off-road related feature is the high-mounted fresh-air intake that allows the Ridgeline to ride through deeper water levels. The dual-action tailgate can either be laid down as on standard trucks or swung out like a hinged door. The benefit of the swing-out option is easier access to the deep well that is the in-bed trunk (also functioning as spare tire storage space). Interior features include an AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and rearview mirror-located rearview camera.
For those with the means, the Ridgeline RTL is packed with upscale standard equipment. Beginning inside, leather is added to the seating and steering wheel, the latter of which has mounted audio and cruise controls. Carpeted floor mats are much more inviting along with the heated front seats (side mirror’s are heated as well). A power moonroof, complete with tilt function, helps add natural light to the interior cabin. The HomeLink transceiver means no need for bulky garage remotes and satellite radio is equipped for endless entertainment. Though not standard, a Honda satellite-linked navigation system is available only on RTL models and includes a compass, voice recognition and Bluetooth capability. Lastly, 18-inch wheels with a silver finish are equipped outside.
While the Ridgeline Sport adds mostly appearance features to the base RT, Ridgeline’s RTS trim is focused more on the driver/passenger’s in-car experience. An exterior temperature indicator and dual-zone automatic climate control system help maintain a comfortable cabin while the audio system features a six-disc changer and seven speakers (subwoofer included). Another RTS standard is 10-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat, which includes lumbar support. Exterior add-ons consist of body-colored power-folding side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels and a trailer harness. To relieve owners from worrying, Honda equips the Ridgeline RTS with a security system as well.
Providing power to the Sport, as it does all Ridgelines, the 3.5L V6 engine pairs with a five-speed automatic transmission to produce 250 hp while getting 15/21 mpg city/highway. Yet the Sport is given a fresh look by way of the black mesh grille and black-trimmed bezels within the brake and headlights (fog lights are added as well). Continuing with the black theme, dark privacy glass complements the 18-inch black wheels. Heavy-duty floor mats are placed inside to handle all types of weather faced by Ridgeline Sport passengers. The leather-wrapped steering wheel features both cruise and audio controls plus an MP3/Auxiliary input is added. Finishing it all off, a small, red Sport emblem is attached to the grille.
Available with two-,three-,or four-doors but V6 is underpowered.
Full-size half-ton truck yet it has top-of-the-class handling.
Available with a four-cylinder engine but has few standard features.
Has an available V8 but comes with poor fuel-economy.