Friday, July 20, 2012

Ridgeline pickup's appeal crosses life's lines

Sacramento, California – Being a suburban dweller, I generally don’t have a lot of use for pickup trucks.

It’s not that I don’t like them.  It’s just that I don’t have much need for them, other than transporting the fresh-cut Christmas tree down from the Sierra Nevada foothills every year, and the occasional run to the recycle yard.  So, no, I don’t need a driveway-filling, lane-clogging monster truck to make my life better.

But if I was ever in a situation where I was forced to choose one pickup to be my personal ride, the Honda Ridgeline would be it.  Practically sized, nicely styled and easy to drive, the Ridgeline might be considered pickup truck-lite by construction workers or ranchers, but it’s just about perfect for a suburban lightweight like myself.

Yes, I know, these ruthless self evaluations can be ugly, but consider the charms the Ridgeline offers the spoiled suburbanite.

My tester was the Ridgeline Sport, an all-new trim level offering for 2012.  My four-door, five-passenger ride had four-wheel drive and model-specific perks that included 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a black honeycomb grille, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, auxiliary audio input jack, fog lights, rear privacy glass (the rear glass slides open/closed automatically at the click of a button; very cool), all weather floor mats and black headlight/brake light housings.

Which is to say it looked pretty bad-nasty for a pickup … and that’s bad-nasty in a good way.

Fuel mileage was not so hot at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, but hey, this is the pickup segment.  Power is provided courtesy of a 3.5-liter V-6 putting out a max 250 horses.  It’s quite the stout engine, in my view.

My tester was loaded up with plentiful comfort/convenience features, which frankly surpassed what I expected for a model starting at just a few dollars over $30,000.

On-road performance was smooth and surprisingly quiet for a pickup.  Unprompted, passengers said they were surprised at the agility of the vehicle, and a few even suggested that the Ridgeline Sport had so much to offer that they’d consider buying one.  Yeah, high praise, that.

The rear cargo area is not massive, but it’s capable of doing serious hauling at 49.5 inches wide between the wheel wells, 20.7 inches deep and 60 inches long with the tailgate closed. That will haul all-terrain vehicles and a bulky kitchen appliance or two.

All this makes the Ridgeline a specialty player in the half-ton pickup truck segment, and while it’s not going to be every truck driver’s cup of tea, it’s a sure bet that this Honda’s DNA will be a perfect match for a significant group of discriminating pickup purchasers.

Worthy of a test drive?  Yes, no matter if you’re urban, suburban or rural.

No comments:

Post a Comment