2012 Honda Ridgeline puts ‘Sport’ in Sport Utility Truck

(Images courtesy Honda)

I seem to be taking delivery of a lot of trucks here lately but I don’t mind one bit as I reside in the No. 1 truck market in the world (AKA Texas).

Texans use pickups for much more than just work vehicles. For many families these are the only vehicle as they have become that utilitarian.

And manufacturers have broadened the choices across the pickup lines to meet individual needs of as many buyers as they possibly can. Down here you would think it is the Texas version of the “New Deal” paraphrased to “a pickup in every garage.”

A few years back Honda decided to finally get in the “family-hauler-with-a-cargo-box-attached” game by introducing the Ridgeline – and no sooner than they did a lot of folks I know turned their noses up at it.

“That ain’t no pickup, if it ain’t got a ladder frame underneath and cain’t haul no round bales of hay it ain’t no truck.”

Yes, it really goes like that.

True, Honda has chosen a unibody architecture for their “pickup” model but as so many users never “haul round bales” or ever really even take their vehicles offroad, the automaker chose to instead provide buyers with a comfortable choice that seats up to five and runs rings around suburbia. And to be fair, the Ridgeline does incorporate a closed-box frame into the unit body construction for added strength.

New for 2012 on the Ridgeline line is a Sport model which really only consists of a nice set of rims and blacked-out trim pieces front and rear. The truck looks good though.

Honda uses its venerable VTEC 3.5-liter V-6 to power this rig generating 250hp and is backed by a five-speed automatic gearbox, a bit of a rarity these days as most truck makers have gone to six speeds units for fuel economy boost. A transmission cooler is included and the Sport model is rigged with Honda’s VTM 4WD system for added capabilities.

Front and rear independent suspension systems are a tell to sport ute inspiration in the truck and Ridgeline features stabilizer bars both fore and aft as well.

Our Ridgeline Sport tester was very comfortable and stable on the road. We did not have any offroad adventures during our time behind the wheel but feel confident this truck will handle any normal ranch conditions just fine – just don’t tear up those cool rims.

Fuel economy is on par with other pickups on the market equipped with V-8s: 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. This was a bit of a surprise and one Honda should remedy if they wish to ensure future success for the ‘line.

I guess Ridgeline could best be summed up as a Sport Utility Truck as it combines features of both SUV and pickup. And did I mention the cargo box in the bottom of the bed?

Honda’s best-kept secret lies beneath the floor of the pickup bed in the form of a weather-tight, lockable storage compartment that also holds the spare tire. And it even sports drain plugs so owners can use their imaginations as to what to store down there. Ridgeline’s tailgate “sports” a dual-opening feature as it both flips down and swings sideways.

Pricing for the 2012 Honda Ridgeline rigs begin at under 30 grand with our Sport model coming in at $30,805.

Categories: Autos

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