Test Drive: 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport

PUTC-Ridgeline3 II

The new Ridgeline Sport does a lot of things very well, but there are a few things to know about this vehicle before you buy. First and foremost? Some might not consider it a real pickup, yet if offers an interesting array of unique features. Click here to read the full review. 

We had the 2012 Ridgeline in our Midsize Shootout at the beginning of the year (boy does that seem like a long time ago), but we felt the vehicle was special enough to derserve some more one-on-one time with one of our expert test drivers. For more of what we did and what we thought in our comprehensive midsize pickup segment shootout, click here.  


PUTC-Ridgeline8 II



While it's awkward looking and not a real BOF, RWD pickup truck by most standards... If the MPGs would have been 30%+ better and priced better compared to comparably sized pickup trucks I would have considered it. But it was neither fuel efficient nor competitvely priced so why bother. Will say I do love the bed trunk feature. Bed storage (like RamBox) is a feature I hope we see in more trucks in the future.

Isn't "Honda Ridgeline Sport" an oxymoron???

It's funny how the same people that dislike this truck, then beg GM and Ford to bring their watered down version of a Ridgeline to America.

This truck actually suits the needs of most American pickup buyers better than the supposed "real BOF" trucks that they buy instead.

If you're not towing or going off-road, a vehicle like this would work quite well for most situations where a bed is needed.

People can say what they want about the Ridgline, but at least it's a quality product unlike my former company truck which was a 1998 F-150. I drove this truck since it was brand new and took good care of it. The sheet metal to the right of the windows cracked on both doors from the "stress" of rolling the windows up and down. I didn't dare lean up against it when i fueled it up because the sheet metal on the side of the bed would bow in. It's a good thing Ford did install bed rail protectors standard from the factory to protect the paper thin metal. The engine pinged hard on everything but 93 octane fuel. The seat fell apart after a year and a half and the engine would knock hard on occasion somewhere in the bottom end. It sounded like the crank was going to go down through the oil pan.
My current boss drives an '07 F-150 regular cab. The cab access doors rattle and shake when you hit the slightest bump in the road, both front wheel bearings have failed, and the 4.2 engine uses oil. Where is the quality at?? I just don't know about Ford anymore.

Looks a LOT better....... Can it handle a Snow plow???

Your curent boss drives an 2007, its 2012 thats 5 years and probably alot of miles. How many miles are ont that truck, is it constantly overloaded? most people dont do the math with respect to payload. Do the math on how much weight was put into these vehicles that i understand to be work trucks. a 1998 is 14 yrs old work truck, and many work trucks dont last that long. i keep a vehicle until the repair cost equal new payment costs. i have had differential issues on an 05 chevy, inaddtion to fuel pump guage cluster transfer case etc, all at under 100k miles, our dodge work truck with 40k miles is on its last leg. our fords are 10s 11s and 12s and are holding up good so far. We also have GMT 400s that are just now retireing. the only Ford problem that i see is the EGR on the 6.0, and i work in a manitnce facitly for a 1400 vehicle fleet. on the dodges the cumins is still good but the rest of the truck is garbage, we joked about when cumins trucks come in swaping the cumis for a navstar and send the fords back out (they are not on the same mounts so no can do)lol

I don't have anything against the Ridgeline other then its mileage is about the same as a Full Size F-150. I personally wouldn't buy one but its is a versatile little truck for what it is.

@ Mr. Truck, most suburbanites don't need to push a snow plow. They "call some guy."

Even so, didn't Honda discontinue this "truck"?

While the Ridgeline had too short a bed for my farm chores (I use a CR-V or a Silverado, depending on what gets hauled) most truck owners do NOT need a full size to do work (puffing out one's chest and looking like a "working man" is another matter). And it's contemptible that the Honda doe not get better MPG. Why not buy a full-size, in that case?

We need more, not less, small trucks. I've never believed that the market does not exist, but the manufacturers tell us it does not, so they won't cannibalize sales of their big macho rigs.

If we do ever get small trucks again, more truck and less car, please. That's the shortcoming (and short bed) of this particular vehicle.

@ Carilloskis

The 2007 just hit 100,000 miles, but I started driving it occasionally when it had just over 30,000. The 1/4 doors on the cab shook and rattled back back then. Perhaps that's why they elminated them in 2009? They are/were rattle traps. They also created awful blind spots.
The issues with my old '98 company truck started shortly after it was purchased new. After many attempts to fix the awful pinging, the dealer gave up and just said run 93 octane. The company owner refused to pay 30 cents/gallon more to stop it from pinging.Totally unacceptable for a vehicle that is supposed to run on 87. The seat fell apart even though a seat cover was installed a week after the truck was purchased. This occured before the truck was even a year old. The a/c compressor failed before it was two years old. Various plastic interior parts broke off. Quality was definitely not job 1 with this truck.

At least the Sport does improve the awkward looks of the Ridgeline. Noting the bottom picture, I can't believe Honda sticks you with a tiny donut spare. C'mon Honda, this isn't a Civic.

Ridgeline does not fit every bill, It is not a serious work truck nor is it for off roading. It does however pull my buddies ski boat very nicely and can handle all of the home improvement chores that he needs. The Honda 4W handles snow covered roads well too. If it had better MPGs I would have gotten one too.

Wonder how one of these little jobs would do pulling my 5th wheel horse trailer? haha

If anything, a Ridgeline should be considered an SUV/SUT since it doesn't really fit the criteria most would use for the actual "truck" classification. With that aside, for what it is, it's a pretty good alternative to a traditional truck. Where it really comes up short in my opinion is fuel mileage. Perhaps Honda could address that in the future if they keep it around.

If you have a flat tire with anything in the bed you have to unload all the cargo to get to it.Thats real forward thinking right there. It looks worse then a tundra and thats saying something!

Not really Paul, I think the Tundra is the best looking truck on the road right now.

My 2007 Honda Ridgeline purchased used is a good fit for me and my garage. Has repeatedly gotten up to 23+ hwy mpg doing 65 mph, hauls enough firewood that I want to load/ unload, goes off-road just fine, takes care of my son driving to/from his High School when snow is on the ground and the wife enjoys driving the vehicle. Now if Honda would only revive their V-6 diesel...

Honda ain`t a truck use fuel like a medium size V8 will probably not last as long as a V8 the engine revs too high. This thing will rust like any Honda do and being a unibody will be weaker structurally. And the box in the bed is not usefull when you have something in the same bed.

No Honda should stay with little cars and lawnmowers etc... leave the serious business to others.

By the way Honda sell a little less than 1000 truck a month people are not stupid after all.

@Paul -

Actually, Honda did consider the problem of having a flat with a fully loaded bed. They provided a spot up in the side of the bed where you can mount the spare tire in case you are worried about having to change a flat with a load. But realistically, the chances of a flat happening at that precise moment are pretty remote.

What the Ridgeline needs to do more than anything is increase its horsepower and Ford needs to compete by bringing back the F-100 in front wheel or all wheel drive as the Honda.

How could anyone buy a Ridgeline and not buy a lunch at Chic-Fil-A? LOL

You know, I like all the gimmicks on it, but honestly it's too big and too... Funky to catch my interest. I'm sure the angled fairings on each side are to help the fore/aft strength, much like the roof arch in most unibody cars, but it really detracts from the looks and visibility out of the cab.

The thing's also grossly overpriced in my opinion.

JoBlow- that little honda V6 will last as long as any V8- no buts about it. And rust? my 99 accord (MI car) has less rust than most cars 5 years newer that I put on the hoist. You can point out many short-coming in the Ridgeline, but if used within its limits, it will last a VERY long time.
Pricing- go ahead and price it against a Tacoma or Frontier 4x4 crew cab- actually pretty close. Sadly so is the fuel economy. Ride and handeling is worlds better though. If Honda had given the Ridgeline the powertrain from the MDX, perhaps the numbers would be much more favorable.

http://www.nascar.com/news/120807/dodge-leaving-nascar/index.html no more dodge

the tundra looks like a big cat fish to me but everyone too there own I guess

A very big sexy catfish

There is always someone who seems to bash a rival product on a thread that has nothing to do with that brand.
Back on topic:
My wife and I took one for a test drive 4 years ago. It rode nice, had decent power, was farely agile and had some neat features. The thing that killed it for me was the huge C-pillar and the sloping box sides. Accessories like cargo racks were rare and expensive. I asked about canopies and the salesman put his foot in his mouth by saying, " if you want a cover on the bed get an SUV". Thank you very much, I will look elsewhere. I looked at the Tacoma and that would of been the one I bought if I confined my search to compact trucks.

Ridgeline beat every midsize truck in the MPG segment and it has highest payload of any midsize truck.

It's interior offers the most room and comfort.

Ridgeline has best on pavement ride and handling. It's AWD system works automatically and is best in group for on road use.

Ridgeline weakness is off road. Most pickups spend 95% or more of their life on-road.

Bottom line: Ridgeline is full size truck alternative, not full size truck replacement. It is underrated and overpriced truck.

Most importantly - Made in USA! No pickup truck has more domestic content that Ridgeline. It is tied with F150 at 75% US/Canada parts.

Regarding the MPG... It's a 4WD truck. (at least a unique, and well build AWD system) I get 21 on HWY, 15-16 around town. Yes, it's the same as a full-size 2WD truck, but better that full-size 4WD trucks.
I love the vehicle, but my only complaints are the smaller standard spare tire, and I would love to see the MDX engine. I can haul my 12ft kayak in the back with the bed down (6.5 ft) just fine, but a 6 ft bed would be nice.

Junk. If you want a Real truck, you have a few choices but a Honda is not one of them.

Choice 1)Ford
Choice 2)Dodge
Choice 3)OLD Chevy's (GMT-400's and backwards)
Choice 4)Toyota Tacoma for smaller trucks.

The best thing about the Ridgeline is that it has remained the same since it came out in 05 ('06 model year). This has resulted in their manufacturing being fairly well QC'd and there are enough high mileage ridgelines out there to show that there are no common standard failure points.

Also 95K-115K RL's are showing up used for ~$12K now, which is a good price after you haggle a bit with the seller.

Combine a truck that can be purchased for under $12K, with no common failure components, your only expenses would be fluids/filters/belts/hoses/brakes (if needed)/tires (if needed) / timing belt/water pump (if needed). That is an absolute maximum of $3K onto a sub $12K truck to have it basically running like new, and probably less than $3K since if I had to put new tires on our a timing belt/water pump I would negotiate that into my offer.

Ridgelines make for great utility vehicles for random stuff hauling for the average guy, not a professional, and make for absolutely fantastic poor weather cars. You won't find any other truck on the market that will outdo a ridgeline in wintery conditions.

If you need a truck to be a truck, I wouldn't get one. But if you already have a decent daily driver picking up and tuning up a used ridgeline for bad weather / moderate hauling use isn't the worst thing you could do.

@BlueOvalEmpire - how can you say a Ridgeline is junk? They hold up well, and I've never met anyone who complained about the one they owned. Just because it doesn't meet your definition of a pickup does not mean that it is junk.

This is a "truck" for only women, a man would never be caught dead in this pansy. Buying this "truck" would be like taking your little sister to Las Vegas for a good time, but there is a market for men who struggle to be a man. It is poor quality junk and doesn't hold up to truck work.

TJ it sounds like your insecure in your manhood, real men don't need to drive a tonka truck to mask their real identity.

phillyguy::: out do? out do? any Chevy 4X4 truck from LS up comes with selective autotrac transfer case, meaning you can have 2wd, auto, 4whi, 4wlow. and the best part is you have rear wheel drive dynamics to boot! not to mention a little more weight, (good in snow & ice & rain) and finaly price! you can get a crew cab 4X4 Chevy V-8 Autotrac 4X4 with On-Star for under 30K with incentives. To me it's an easy and youo can get the same in some Rams also!

Honda has alot of mechanical problems,very bad transmissions on their cars brand new cars fail at 1000 miles,yes,1000 miles !

Ridgeline has the bad Honda V-6 engine that timing belts fail and waterpumps fail at low mileage ! Even the waterpump housing on the block crack causing a huge repair bill if not under warranty ! My advice stay away from these !!


Most people wont admit that the vehicle they bought is junk !

I repaired brand new Honda's (I worked for them from 01-09) and after low mileage cars were given back to some people after engine replacements they were still saying they have the best car and reliable ! Obviously they are not reliable when after 12,000 miles it gets a new engine,but thats what some said.The service manager couldnt believe it,some people come in boiling mad that a simple item went bad that doesnt effect reliabilty,and others were happy when their car needed a new engine or transmission at low mileage ! People are odd.

@J.C the Mechanic -

One of the reasons I decided on a Ridgeline is because I discovered after extensive research that it is one of the most reliable trucks on the road. Contrary to your generalized statements about "bad" transmissions and other problems, I found that there are no none major problem areas with the Ridgeline. I was initially wanting to buy a 2004-2006 F150, but upon discovering that they have a very serious known problem (spark plugs get stuck in the head and are all but impossible to remove, requiring new heads at a cost of $2500 each) I started to look elsewhere and was very impressed with what I found with the Ridgeline. So far my '06 has 75,000 trouble-free miles. I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

I really don't understand the hatred toward the Ridgeline (aside from the looks - most everyone agrees Honda dropped the ball there). I wouldn't buy one, but at the same time I wouldn't argue against its purchase if the buyer understands the Honda's capabilities and drawbacks.

People didn't really care for the Explorer Sport Trac either and the EXT and Avalanche are also being discontinued. People dislike these types of pickups because they are actually a SUT/sport utility truck derived from a SUV and crossover. The only distinction is that it has an open bed. If that is your thing, good for you. It's a free country. BTW, F-150 spark plugs are not a big deal and can be changed by Average Joes for less than the price of a pair of floor mats.

Look at the sales numbers.

400 this year? Enough said.

Mark said it best:

"The Ridgeline can’t really tow well, it can’t really carry a heavy load well, and it can’t be beaten up too hard. In short, the Ridgeline can’t really do what most people who like trucks need it to do. It’s almost like it’s a pickup made for people who don’t like pickups. Talk about your self-hater."

- Mark Williams

I traded my always broken down 2008 F-150 in on a Ridgleline and have never looked back. Quality and F-150 just don't go together. I just don't know about Ford anymore.

shouldnt this be posted on minivans.com ? The ridgeline is nothing more than a uni-body mini-van with a bed on it.

A guy who works for me owned a ridgeline. If it was empty it handled like a car but if you put any amount of wt in the bed the steering got real light and darty. He averaged 16 mpg on the rd and 12 around town.

The sloped bed sides were a nightmare.Everything put in the bed had to be tied down.Like I said in the above post with a flat tire you have to unload your cargo and when you haul every day like we do it sure isn't fun on the side of the rd.
The ridgeline is basically a van with a bed and it performed like it.

On the job site in sometimes muddy conditions he had to ride in with one of us.The ridgeline just coulden't go threw much mud at all. Even with added mud/snow tires it did little if any good.

If you need a truck bed to haul a couple bags of trash or a push mower this truck/van thing would be great if you tie it down to the bed but basically hauling anything tall or heavy you proubly arn't going to like this truckl.

We picked up 12 buckets of drywall mud in it now that made for a interesting drive..Lights pointed to the moon and wallering all over the rd I was glad when we finally got there.

Like I said above if you don't haul much or use it like a truck and mostly just use it to get to work you'll be ok but asking it to haul anything above 200 pds is a no no.

Putting anything in the bed and you're at 12 mpg is what mike averaged.


Are you that clueless? Since when did the GM Holden and Ford Falcon Utes become watered-down versions of the Ridgeline? These trucks have existed well before the Ridgeline existed. And FYI, their former American Versions (Ranchero, El Camino) were more truck that the Ridgeline ever will be. The Ridgeline is the watered-down poser here. Get it right before you speak.

@joblow you're a tard

Never liked the high side bed walls. Also woulda thought with the space under bed for storage, I'da thought you'd get a full size spare. I wonder in winter how they keep all the water from getting inside bed wells?

@ Sandman, the Ridgeline is FWD based, it will still outdo all of those trucks in lousy wintery weather conditions, barring many feet thick snow, which calls for a more particular approach. Those other trucks will do very well, but you will still get better traction and have less potential for slipping/fishtailing in the RL.

The FWD comes with its drawbacks though, the poster above that said it is like a van with a bed was right. Routinely moving heavy loads is much better accomplished with other trucks. Occasionally moving heavy and/or bulky stuff, and having a decent all around vehicle the rest of the time is where the RL really shines.

I also would never consider a new ridgeline, they are exorbitantly expensive, but as I pointed out if I can pickup a used one and have it tuned up for about $12K it is something I will certainly consider in the future. It is a good general purpose utility vehicle, and would complement my other vehicles really well.

I do want to add though that your point about having an auto 4wd feature in Chevy and Dodge trucks is well received, it is a fantastic feature and I wish it came standard on all 4x4 models of all brands of half tons.

I disagree.From my experience with the rl in the snow and mud its not very good at all even with mud/snow tires on it.
You'd proubly be better off with a van if thats all the hauling duties you need.

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