Best New PickupThe 2006 Honda Ridgeline is the best new pickup of 2006. Okay, well, it’s really an incredibly handy SUV. And a transformer toy. No, seriously, it’s a truck. And one so stunningly versatile that it will pick your teeth and call your mother if you want it to, which is why we’ve named it our transformer of the year.
Make that the Autobytel Editors’ Choice for Best New Pickup of the Year. Shoot, any truck that comes with a trunk, well, Uncle Melvin always said to watch out for one of those. However, that’s not the only trick up the Honda Ridgeline’s sleeve. There’s also the swing-out or fold-down tailgate and a fully composite bed that can take in a 4’x 8’ piece of plywood lying down, among other features. Though priced a bit high compared to other trucks, what you get with the Ridgeline spells out as maximum value from the base RT trim at $27,700 to the RTS starting at $30,075, and the top-line RTL priced at $31,490. All trims come with standard safety equipment such as antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, dual-stage front airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Add to that a powerful-enough 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 247 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, a torque rating of 245 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm, a tow rating of 5,000 lbs., and a roomy cabin good for hauling five passengers, and what you’ve got is a truck that will satisfy personal-use buyers with enough power to tow your toys and a ride that is more car-like than truck-rough. You give up some off-road prowess, and commercial buyers are going to need something with a V8 and greater tow capacity, but the trade-off is a smooth and supple driver with an interior made to please the most discerning suburbanites.
But to build a truck the Honda way, without a V8 engine, represents a black mark against the Ridgeline to some. Nevertheless, positive press and healthy sales mean the Ridgeline may well be gaining a foothold in this, the land of the picky truck buyer, where some people pick their spouses faster and with less thought than they do their trucks. Which answers why the girl always takes the dog AND the truck when she leaves. – Brian Chee