- The most maneuverable truck we know
- Refined, energetic drivetrain
- Safety record's strong
- Ride is most comfortable
- Oddball styling keeps it down
- A bit pricey, given compact strippers
- Small bed limits utility
If you need a better-driving truck that can haul the goods on occasion, the 2011 Honda Ridgeline might be a better choice than a true full-sizer.
The Honda Ridgeline hasn't been received too warmly by the truck-buying public. In part, it's because more capable full-size pickups can be much less expensive--but you can also blame the pickup mentality, which forces smart, grown men to buy trucks strong enough to haul a 50-foot trailer, when all they own is a jet ski or two.
The Ridgeline sits in an awkward point on the pickup curve, no doubt. It's capable of executing some near-full-size tasks, but it's outfitted only with a five-foot bed. The cabin doesn't open into the cargo area like it does on the bigger but more functional Chevrolet Avalanche; and even its more intriguing features, like the sealed cargo bin under the bed floor, only make sense when the truck bed is....empty.
The Ridgeline is the best-driving pickup, without a doubt. Honda's wonderful 3.5-liter V-6 has the charm no other base six-cylinder truck can muster, and the five-speed automatic knocks off shifts like brews after a long shift. Fuel economy isn't a strength, oddly, but handling is. It feels a lot like the former Honda Pilot (not the misdirected 2010-2011 model), which means a more direct steering feel, and a more controlled ride, than the jagged sheetmetal might imply.
The 2011 Ridgeline sports no changes, and there's considerable doubt that Honda will replace it when its time comes due--probably after the 2012 model year. To get more truck buyers to notice, it might have to get more conventional--but as the latest Toyota Tundra has proven, even big-truck street cred doesn't guarantee any more sales. Not when the Ram, F-150 and the Silverado and Sierra are at the top of their game.