2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL

2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL
Long-Term Road Test

When the then-new Honda Ridgeline emerged as the winner of a five-vehicle comparison test a couple years back ["Do-It-All Compact Pickups," June 2005], our mailbags (both snail and cyber) overflowed with outrage. The essence of this bilious tide of correspondence was that "this thing you weirdos call a truck" is not a truck at all but some sort of car decked out in pickup drag and therefore an insult to all true truckers.

At the conclusion of that test, our take on the car-or-truck issue was this: "Who cares?" And now, after two years and 40,000 miles with a Ridgeline, we heartily endorse the finding of that '05 comparison-test crew: "Let's appreciate the Ridgeline for what it is: a new type of utility vehicle." Hey, even the state of Michigan, which has more than a little motor-vehicle experience, is confused about the Ridgeline's classification. Our tester's registration documents describe it as a "station wagon."

Whatever we may choose to call it, a vehicle is ultimately defined by what it does, and what better word than "utility" to describe a vehicle that does just about everything. And yet everything, as it applies to the Ridgeline, does have limits. For example, Honda's unibody truck (a structural distinction that makes it unique in pickupdom) is rated to tow as much as 5000 pounds, which is on the low side of capabilities of mid-size pickups. Moreover, towing gets to be fairly deliberate as trailer loads near that max. One of the staff club racers, whose car-trailer combo scales in at just over a ton, thought the Ridgeline towed just fine. But another, with a 4600-pound load, found it merely adequate, noting that "you can forget about passing on two-lane highways."