Buying used: 2010-14 Ridgeline as much an SUV as a pick-up

Consumer Reports loved the Ridgeline

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Ted LaturnusThe adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies in spades to the Honda Ridgeline, which from 2010 up to at least 2014 was essentially unchanged in appearance, drivetrain layout, comfort level, and function.

The Ridgeline was never intended to be a working truck in the same way as, oh, a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado. It was – and is – a go-to rig for discretional pick-up aficionados and weekend warriors who want to get away from it all and take their toys with them. You could even argue that it’s as much an SUV as a pick-up truck.

It also featured body and ladder frame construction, but with a difference. These two were welded together as one component, so the Ridgeline lacked the traditional body-bolted-to-the-frame construction of most other full-size trucks and wasn’t designed to do any seriously heavy lifting. This is definitely not a fleet vehicle.

A few clever features came in the form of a dual-action tailgate that opens out to the side or downwards, a built-in lockable storage compartment under the cargo bed, eight tie-down cleats, and an additional “hidden” storage compartment under the floor. Before it introduced the Ridgeline, Honda apparently researched this market thoroughly and discovered that, like the majority of SUV owners, most people simply don’t use their trucks for hard work; they primarily use them for fun, and the toughest duty most will see is hauling plywood home from the lumberyard on Sundays. So, for 99 per cent of the people that needed a truck, it did the job just fine.

2012-Honda-Ridgeline
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From 2010 until 2014 … and beyond … it featured a 3.5-litre V6 engine that developed 250 horsepower, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, with full-time all-wheel-drive. It could tow up to 2268 kilograms for dealing with snow and mud, and for most off-road forays, the Ridgeline was more than adequate. The AWD system featured a front-drive bias, re-directing up to 70 per cent of power to the back wheels.

Made in Ontario, this vintage of the Ridgeline seats five adults. Standard equipment level was high for all versions, with the usual convenience and comfort features, such as air conditioning, one-touch power windows, tilt steering, remote keyless entry, a sliding rear window, and centre console storage all coming standard. Extras included larger 18-inch alloy wheels and tires, power sunroof, eight-way power driver’s seat, a dual-zone climate control system, navigation system with Bluetooth, and an additional 115-volt power outlet.

There is one big safety recall to report for this vintage of the Ridgeline. Apparently, the rear frame of the vehicle might rust if it is exposed to salt, and the fuel tank could detach from the vehicle as a result. This could cause a fire … or worse. This recall applied mainly to rust belt cars in eastern and central Canada and affected the Ridgeline from 2004 to 2014.

Consumer Reports loved this one. It got top marks in every category, earning this organization’s “Best Bet” designation and their highest used car prediction rating, right across the board. Said C.R: “The car-based Honda Ridgeline is among the best compact pick-ups we’ve tested.”

Some comments from owners:

  • “Over steers and large turning radius. Good acceleration”;
  • “Without a doubt, the most comfortable truck (seating, ride, noise) I have ever owned”;
  • “Other pick-ups were available in less expensive forms but the combination of features available in the Ridgeline was unique and it wasn’t particularly expensive given the equipment and build quality.”

On the other hand, disappointing fuel economy is a constant complaint, and some buyers seemed to have problems with the unorthodox storage features.

From a $30,000 base price in 2014, the Ridgeline has dropped to the low to mid-$20,000 neighbourhood. The top-of-the-line EX-L seems to be about $5,000 pricier than the other models. Unsurprisingly, all models are hard to find in decent condition.

2010-2014 Honda Ridgeline

Original Base Price (2014): $30,000
Engine: 3.5 litre V6
Horsepower/Torque: 250 hp / 247 ft. lb
Transmission: Five-speed automatic w. AWD
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km):14.1 city/9.8 hwy. Regular gas.

Alternatives: Chev Avalanche, Ford Explorer SportTrack, Dodge Durango, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma.

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). 

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