Full 2008 Honda Ridgeline Review
What's New for 2008
For the 2008 Honda Ridgeline, the fabric used for the truck's cloth seats is now a single color rather than two-tone. RTS and RTL Ridgelines get new machine-finish alloy wheels.
Most pickup trucks cruising down American roads today are like that oversized bodybuilder at your gym who lives to preen in the mirror. These trucks look rough and tough, but they aren't out there hauling drywall or screeching down mountains. Aside from the occasional trip to Lowe's, they've been thoroughly domesticated by their owners, and their macho truck bodies exist mostly for show.
The 2008 Honda Ridgeline was expressly built for truck buyers who enjoy tame pleasures and, accordingly, do not require the largest, gnarliest rig. Launched in 2006, the truck was Honda's first stab at building a pickup truck, and in true Honda fashion, this crew cab sets out to be most things for most people.
The Ridgeline's platform is a heavily altered version of that used for the Honda Pilot, and it bucks the traditional, "three-box" (engine compartment, cab, cargo box) truck layout by offering a bed that's built right into the cab. The point of this weird genetic engineering was to increase body stiffness, which in turn allowed Honda to tune the truck for a more carlike ride. In addition, the Ridgeline's four-wheel independent suspension (unique in the truck world) endows it with handling that offers un-trucklike smoothness, making it a natural fit for city streets. Another benefit of this singular layout is the innovative features that come with it. Made of steel-reinforced fiberglass composite, the Ridgeline's bed is immune to rust and dents, making a bedliner unnecessary. The floor of the bed is also raised, creating a 4-by-5-foot space whose flatness is not interrupted by bulky wheelwells. Those seeking a secure space for storing items will like the 8.5-cubic-foot locking trunk found in the back of the bed, easily accessed by lifting a hatch in the floor. To gain access to this trunk, the tailgate swings outward from the side in addition to the traditional, downward way.
Just don't plan on kicking up gravel careening down mountain byways. The Ridgeline's natural habitat is urban, and it falters when taken off the paved path. Additionally, it doesn't measure up to other midsize pickups when it comes to towing and payload capacities.
Like its closest competitor, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, the Ridgeline offers lots of room for passengers, along with enough cargo room and versatility to keep you in good stead on weekend outings. Plus, its smooth handling is a lot more accommodating than most anything else in the midsize truck segment. If you've got modest hauling and towing needs, and no real off-road aspirations, the 2008 Honda Ridgeline could prove to be just the friend you've been looking for in the city.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
With room for five, the 2008 Honda Ridgeline is a midsize pickup truck offered only as a crew cab. Buyers have the luxury of choosing from four trim levels: RT, RTX, RTS and RTL. Go with the RT for 17-inch steel wheels, a cloth interior, air-conditioning, a CD player, powered accessories, keyless entry and cruise control. The picture gets more appealing with the RTX, which adds alloy wheels, towing preparation and a chrome grille. Move up to the RTS and you get a power driver seat and an upgraded stereo with an in-dash CD changer. Splurge on the premium RTL trim and you'll get a sunroof, heated outside mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio and HomeLink. A navigation system with an integrated MP3 auxiliary audio unit is available as an option, but only on the Ridgeline RTL.
Powertrains and Performance
Underneath the hood is Honda's 3.5-liter single-overhead-cam V6, which in this application generates 247 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is paired with a five-speed automatic that's equipped with a transmission cooler. Buyers also get a standard all-wheel-drive system (which Honda has labeled VTM-4, or Variable Torque Management four-wheel drive). The 2008 Honda Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds and is capable of hauling payloads of up to 1,550 pounds.
Investigate the Ridgeline's list of standard safety features and you'll find antilock disc brakes with brake assist, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants, and full-length side curtain airbags. Traction control and stability control are also standard. The Ridgeline earned a perfect five out of five stars for its protection of occupants in both frontal and side-impact crashes in tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Interior Design and Special Features
Slide into the Honda Ridgeline and you'll find front bucket seats that are firm, well-shaped and comfortable. Still, some drivers might be irked by the absence of a telescoping steering wheel. There's more rear legroom than you'll find in many midsize pickups, but if you're a rear passenger, don't expect too much in the way of comfort. The Ridgeline offers no shortage of interior storage compartments, and additional cargo space is available by flipping up its 60/40-split rear seat. Go exploring beneath the truck's 5-foot-long bed and you'll find a hidden lockable trunk with a drain plug that allows it to pull double duty as a cooler. You'll also find that the truck's spare tire is inconveniently located inside the trunk – which means that in the event of a flat, you'll have to unload the bed and the trunk to access the spare.
The quiet-riding Ridgeline is a pleasant companion, getting you there with comfort and ease. Steering is tight, with just the right amount of resistance and feedback, and the ride is very soft and carlike. The only major annoyance is poor outward visibility. On-road handling is very responsive for a pickup, but off-road trail runs are not the Ridgeline's forte. Likewise, the V6 is smooth, with plenty of power for cruising, but lacks the low-end grunt needed for bigger hauling jobs. Taken on the whole, the 2008 Honda Ridgeline makes sense for buyers who don't put heavy-duty demands on their trucks. However, serious off-roaders will be better off with the more rugged Nissan Frontier or Toyota Tacoma.