Trucks & SUVs

The Evolution of the Honda Ridgeline

The Ridgeline was developed as Honda’s first truck for the North American pickup truck market. First produced in 2005 for model year 2006, the Ridgeline was redesigned for 2009 and 2012. After an initial popular start, the truck was discontinued in 2014 but returned to production for the model year 2017. Today, the Honda Ridgeline is considered one of the best trucks on today’s market.

Honda Ridgeline from 20062009

The 2006 Ridgeline model was first produced in March 2005 at Honda’s Alliston, Ontario plant. In 2008, production moved to the Lincoln, Alabama plant.

The truck had an unusual exterior design with flying buttresses joining the cab to the bed. Other unique features included an industry-first lockable in-bed trunk, a fully independent suspension, and storage space under the rear seat cushions. The dual-action tailgate could be opened either down or to the side.

This mid-size pickup truck was unusual in that it had some car-like aspects, including its unibody frame construction. The Honda Ridgeline was uniquely engineered with a powertrain similar to the Acura MDX‘s but strengthened. All models had a 247-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 transverse-mounted engine and a five-speed automatic transmission.

Able to tow up to 5,000 pounds, the 2006 Ridgeline was Motor Trend’s 2006 Truck of the Year as it combined truck capabilities with a car-quality ride.

The Ridgeline from 2009 to 2014

For the model year 2009, Honda introduced 50 changes and new features intended to make the Ridgeline look and feel bolder. The exterior and interior received new styling and the engine was more powerful. The trailer hitch was standard with all trim levels.

New premium features, like Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® and a rearview backup camera, were available on certain trims. The grille was changed to look similar to the Honda Pilot crossover’s grille. Other exterior changes included updates to the bumpers, headlights, and taillights. A new steering wheel and instrumentation updated the interior.

The V6 engine was modified to offer slightly more power with 250 horsepower; however, the fuel economy stayed the same. A sport model was introduced in 2012, which had a blacked-out grille and 18-inch alloy wheels. Production of the Ridgeline stopped after the 2014 model year.

2017present Honda Ridgeline models

After a two-year gap, the Honda Ridgeline returned for the model year 2017. Following a more traditional truck design, it no longer has flying buttresses. Without those buttresses providing added strength, the Ridgeline now uses more ultra-high-strength steel.

It has, however, retained its unique features, like the dual-action tailgate, in-bed trunk, and rear-seat storage. It also has a new bed audio system, a first for a pickup truck. Other changes include a bigger bed — although shallower — and a smaller but deeper in-bed trunk.

The new Ridgeline retains the unibody construction but has a more rigid structure. Its platform is based on Honda’s “global light truck platform.” That is similar to the Honda Pilot and other large Honda vehicles but with an extended wheelbase.

It now has a more powerful engine, with 280 hp, plus more safety features. A final change is from a five-speed to a six-speed automatic transmission, although a nine-speed automatic is available. Both front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive options are also available.

One of the best-rated trucks

The Honda Ridgeline has received many awards and high scores. Consumer Reports includes it in its ratings of compact pickup trucks, where it ranked No. 1. It received good ratings for IIHS Front Moderate Overlap; IIHS Front Small Overlap, Driver; and IIHS Side Crash.

The Ridgeline was the first pickup truck to earn IIHS’s “Top Safety Pick+,” which it won in 2017. It was also awarded the “Top Safety Pick” in 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, it’s the only truck to receive five-star ratings across the board for NHTSA Overall Crash, NHTSA Overall Frontal-Crash, and NHTSA Overall Side-Crash.

In addition, the Honda Ridgeline made iSeeCars.com’s list of “Longest-Lasting Cars to Reach 200,000k Miles.” Its longevity helped it earn Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Resale Value Awards: Top Ten Cars” for 2017, 2018, and 2019.