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2009 Honda Ridgeline DX Review

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When Honda introduced the Ridgeline at the Detroit auto show in 2004, most people thought Honda had gone a bit soft in the head. The Ridgeline was based on car type construction without an obvious frame and it wouldn’t hold a sheet of plywood in the bed. Worse yet it had a car interior.

Ridgeline is different, unconventional and worth taking for a drive so that you too can be surprised.

Five years later, in 2009, we know the Ridgeline uses a revolutionary idea in construction. Ridgeline is the first vehicle to combine a boxed frame and unibody construction. You have to think of it as a full frame, complete with cross members that has the gaps filled in with sheet metal (Honda has gone on to use this type of construction in other vehicles). The biggest advantages to this method of construction are chassis rigidity and light weight compared to a regular truck frame.

Improved Chassis rigidity means a more stable platform to hang the suspension bits off of. The next step is that these suspension parts can be better calibrated to provide the type of ride and ride control that the engineers wanted. To you and I, this means that the truck rides and handles better than you would ever believe.

Another departure from standard truck design was behind the cab. The truck box was shorter than most at five feet. Since the Ridgeline was intended for active lifestyle people, Honda did not see this as a drawback. In fact Honda promotes the fact that the truck bed is suited to motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles.

Honda has also built in a lockable truck box storage compartment. That is not unusual except for the fact that it is under the truck bed so that unless you look for the lock at the back of the bed when you swing the dual action tailgate open, you will never know it is there. Part of this storage area is taken up by the spare tire, but there is enough left over for a hockey bag or tools or whatever you want to keep under lock and key, but not inside the truck.

For its size the Ridgeline does well in both towing and cargo capacity. Towing capacity is rated at 2,268 kg (5,000) lbs. The test I took part in put us through a handling course that accentuated trailer way at road speeds and stability under braking. Ridgeline did very well and certainly exceeded my expectations.

As an added bonus we took a Ridgeline loaded to capacity and took it through the same course. We were told that the weight in the bed was roughly 600 kg (1320 lbs) which with a larger than average driver puts the weight up to the 700 kg (1550 lbs) carrying capacity. Again, the Ridgeline handled evasive manoeuvres with ease; it was just me that was nervous.

For its size the Ridgeline does well in both towing and cargo capacity.