Report: A last minute reprieve for the Honda Ridgeline keeps it from the chopping block


In 2010 Honda only sold 16,142 Ridgelines…which is almost the same amount of the small pick-ups that it sold in 2009. That’s not a lot of units for a large car maker like Honda.

Rumors have been swirling around recently about the imminent death of the Ridgeline, but this week Honda’s Executive Vice President John Mendel said the little truck will go on.

“We think we have a ways to go on the Ridgeline,” he said, but at the same time he didn’t commit to a new model. veteran reporter Nathan Adlen recently drove and reviewed the 2010 Ridgeline in the story below he entitled, “Busting My Head in a Honda Ridgeline.”  You can read Nathan’s review below.


The title to this story is 100% accurate. Before I get into details, let’s look at this unique vehicle: The Honda Ridgeline is a unit-body, light duty, utility pickup truck. It comes standard with all-wheel-drive (AWD), weighs around 4,500 lbs and only comes as a four-door.

A 250 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 puts out 247 lbs-feet of torque and that’s mediocre for the class. Toyota and Nissan’s mid-sized pickup trucks beat most of the Ridgeline’s dynamic figures soundly. A five-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission available.

You could say it’s a pickup truck version of the Honda Pilot or Odyssey – but you would only be partially correct. The Ridgeline has a dedicated and unique undercarriage that has a closed-box frame for additional strength front and rear. It’s not a full length frame, rather additional frame carriages for mounting components like the suspension.


The Honda Ridgeline can haul about 1,000 lbs and tow 5,000 lbs. A class III integrated tow hitch is standard on the upper Honda Ridgeline models and optional on the base RT model. Once again, it’s behind the competition – but it’s a slightly different market the Honda Ridgeline is aiming at. When you open the lockable hidden hatch from the sideways OR down folding tailgate, understanding the sheer utility of the Ridgeline becomes easier.

With four-wheel independent suspension along with rather long approach and departure angles, the Ridgeline was never meant for serious boulder hopping. It was – from the offset – meant for folks who only occasionally need a light-duty pickup truck. Remember the Subaru Baja? It was a wagon that had a chopped rear end much like the Ridgeline. It was goofy looking (much like the Ridgeline), but practical for a small niche of consumers – JUST like the Honda Ridgeline.

What I’m saying is that this Honda Ridgeline is a useful, comfortable, capable vehicle that’s as easy to drive as an Accord and it’s. Unfortunately, at about 17 mpg average – it’s only fairly economical. It’s not cheap either with prices starting at nearly $29,000. If you get all the bells and whistles, prices can reach the mid $40,000 mark.

Unfortunately, Honda doesn’t have a down market version.


I only had a few days to play with one and I did my best to load it up and abuse it thoroughly. I was very pleased with its off road abilities when I brought it to South Platt River, Colorado. After some late spring snow melt, ruts were deep, mud was thick and big rocks covered the ground. The torque-managing AWD system keeps all four wheels moving unlike many AWD systems. It reminded me of a big Subaru as it chugged through a mud-swamp filled with branches and rocks. I thought I was about to have an epic fail as the middle of t he swamp dipped to nearly 30-inches of goo.

Somehow, the 2009 Honda Ridgeline I was driving worked its way out.

Mud-slinging in a 250 hp, FWD-biased vehicle that weighs over two tons is not an ideal situation. Surprisingly – even through the thick goo, snow, ice and rocks – the Honda Ridgeline continuously proved itself capable. It certainly drives better than it looks.

At my fishing hole, setup was a breeze. I pulled open the tailgate, swinging it open with one hand before I dipped into the large under-bed storage area. A large cooler, box of tackle boots, jackets and chairs all fit. I could have added a lot more junk in there. Seriously, it’s a handy feature.

After fishing for about five-hours in light rain, I was getting tired and opted to sleep in the driver’s seat. Then it dawned on me, the rear seats fold upward revealing a flat floor! I took my jacket, a few floor mats and my empty soft-sided cooler and made a bed in the back. I was snug as a bug – that was until my “fishing buddy” screamed.

I lifted my head rapidly and smacked it on the corner of the seat bottom (which was folded above my head).


It took me a full minute to gather my wits and stagger out of the Ridgeline. My friend stood there with an undersized trout dangling from his line – triumphant smile and all. You see, we had terrible luck that morning and he insisted on staying outside while I took a catnap.


After I placed some ice on the back of my skull, we stowed our gear and made tracks for the highway. Despite my pain, I marveled at the utility and comfort of the Honda Ridgeline. Sure, it would never take on the Rubicon or worry a Ram Power Wagon, but it has a ton of thoughtful touches that made it a superb fishing vehicle.

The 2011 Honda Ridgeline has very few changes this year. Rumor has it that Honda with either update the Ridgeline with better, more efficient power along with a new aerodynamic body or they will stop production altogether.

I hope it gets a chance to be improved.

On the TFLcar recommendation scale of:

Buy it

– Lease it

– Rent it or

– Forget it

I give the Honda Ridgeline a:


Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.

If you like the Honda Ridgeline you may also like the Dodge Dakota. Here’s our initial first look video:

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