2006 Honda Ridgeline Overview

2/1/2005 7:06:00 PM

Honda Ridgeline: A Next-Generation Four-Door 4WD Truck

The Honda Ridgeline re-defines what a truck can be with its true half-ton bed payload capability, an interior similar to a full-size truck and the exterior length of a compact truck. Built on a segment-first closed box unibody frame that combines the strength of a ladder frame with the many advantages of a unibody design, the Ridgeline adds refinement, handling performance, innovative In-Bed Trunk™ and packaging previously unattainable with a traditional body-on-frame truck design. Designed to meet the needs of a growing population of consumers purchasing trucks to support their active, outdoor oriented lifestyles, the Ridgeline delivers the right mix of overall truck capability, towing performance, ruggedness and value in a fun-to-drive and responsible vehicle with Honda DNA.

True Truck Capabilities meet Honda DNA

The Ridgeline fuses the core capabilities of a truck, including towing, hauling and off-roading, with traditional Honda strengths including high value, world-class engineering, fun-to-drive performance, and exceptional durability, quality and reliability (DQR) - along with industry leading safety and environmental performance.

2006 Honda Ridgeline Highlights:

  • Four-Door Cab Design with spacious 5-passenger seating and re-configurable second row seating for people and/or cargo
  • 5-foot SRC composite bed with six integrated heavy duty-tie down cleats and 1,100 pound (1/2 ton) bed payload capacity with minimal wheel well intrusion and one of the industry's strongest tailgates, which also features dual-action operation
  • Exclusive and secure In-Bed Trunk with a volume of 8.5 cubic-feet
  • Transverse-mounted 255-horsepower 3.5-liter SOHC VTEC V-6 engine with 252 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Integrated closed-box frame with unibody construction is extremely rigid and 93 percent unique to any Honda vehicle and supports a 1550-pound total vehicle payload capacity
  • Independent front and rear suspension
  • True 5,000 lb. towing capability with standard transmission and steering coolers with trailer pre-wiring factory installed
  • Advanced VTM-4 four-wheel-drive with lock mode and medium duty off-road capability
  • Standard Safety for Everyone features include Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control, side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, front side airbags and pedestrian safety design

Genuine Truck Capabilities

Contrary to speculation, the Honda Ridgeline is not a "Honda Pilot with a bed." Engineers started with Honda's Global Light Truck platform and transformed 93 percent of the components into a mission-specific platform with seven high strength steel cross members that create a fully boxed ladder frame structure with full integration into the unibody frame. Further differentiation includes unique suspension component designs, 100-percent unique sheetmetal and a 95-percent exclusive interior. While the powertrain is similar to the Acura MDX; the engine, transmission and Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive system (VTM-4) have been extensively calibrated and strengthened to meet the more rigorous demands of truck buyers including greater towing and cargo hauling duties. Virtually every aspect of the Ridgeline has been designed, engineered and tested to be truck tough and competitive with traditional compact class trucks. End result: 5,000-pound towing, 1,550-pound vehicle payload, a 5-foot bed and medium duty off-road capabilities.

Innovative Packaging

Honda believes there is a better way to package a 4-door truck that maximizes the storage potential of the three-box shape. Traditional four-door trucks offer three distinct cargo zones - the rear portion of the cab, second row underseat storage and the pickup bed. Honda has added an additional cargo zone that removes a significant compromise from the pickup truck equation, a secure and weather resistant In-Bed Trunk area that provides the volume similar to a traditional trunk and maintains the full functionality of the pickup bed - an industry first. Honda's innovative packaging is further highlighted by its spacious interior volume that is similar to a full-size truck, yet the exterior dimensions maintain mid-size measurements.

Pickup Bed with Secure In-Bed Trunk Provides Unmatched Flexibility and Capability

The Ridgeline's steel-reinforced composite bed is constructed of Sheet Molding Composite (SMC), which is an exceptionally strong mixture of fiberglass and vinyl resin offering strength and weight advantages. This cutting edge technology is dent and corrosion resistant, and a high-grip coating eliminates the need for a bed liner. Supplemented by three high-strength steel cross members, the bed is engineered to handle the severe forces associated with loading and hauling raw materials or bulky items weighing up to 1,100 pounds. The 5-foot long bed (6 _ feet with the tailgate down) can accommodate 4-foot 1-inch wide objects between its uniquely unobtrusive wheel wells.

The Ridgeline's In-Bed Trunk locks and is big enough for a large 72-quart cooler or three golf bags. Located in the rear half of the bed, the spacious and weather resistant trunk can be easily accessed for storing items in a secure, lockable area. The spare tire is stored in a sliding tray inside the trunk and is large enough to accommodate an accessory full-size spare tire. When hauling raw material loads like mulch or gravel, the spare tire can be moved to a mount on the side of the bed (or the mount on the side of the bed can be utilized to carry a second spare tire - a smart move when going off-road in remote areas.)

The dual-action tailgate swings down like any tailgate but it also swings to the side to allow for easy loading/unloading of the In-Bed Trunk. Designed to accommodate large and heavy items like an ATV, the heavy-duty tailgate has one of the industry's strongest tailgates with a 300-pound dynamic load capacity.

Since the Ridgeline is a Honda, the bed has been maximized to accommodate motorcycles and ATVs with six strong cargo hooks capable of holding 350 pounds each, and thoughtful touches like matching indents for motorcycle tires are built into the front bed wall, bed floor and tailgate. With the tailgate down, the Ridgeline can haul two of Honda's largest off-road motorcycles, the CRF450R, or one full size ATV.

5,000 Pound Towing Capacity

As part of the Ridgeline's truck DNA, its towing capacity rating of 5,000 pounds enables it to haul a wide range of trailer modules such as a medium-sized boat, two AquaTrax personal watercraft, or a two-axle camper/ "toy hauler" in the low 20-foot range (depending on camper type and load weight). Honda's market research of truck owners who tow a trailer indicates that 84 percent tow less than 5000 pounds, making the Ridgeline a good match for the way most people actually use a truck. To access the truck's full towing capability, simply add a Honda accessory hitch and wiring harness. All necessary transmission and steering coolers are standard equipment, along with factory-installed pre-wiring for quickly connecting a four- or seven-pin trailer electrical harness. Stopping power is provided by a robust braking system that features high performance 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, and Vehicle Stability Assist.

Medium Duty Off-Road Capability

The engineers who designed the Ridgeline tested a range of competitive compact pickup trucks to help quantify off-pavement use patterns, customer needs, and engineering targets for the Ridgeline. Honda's market research showed that severe off road use is usually reserved for heavily modified short wheelbase, purpose-built vehicles; and a fully automatic, decision-free four-wheel drive setup best meets the needs of people driving in rain, snow and medium duty off-road terrain. Although exceptions exist, long wheelbase trucks like the Ridgeline, SUVs and pickups generally are not the hard-core off-roader's vehicle of choice because of the inherently compromised breakover angle. Plus, accommodating extreme off-road use can impose compromises elsewhere in any vehicle, such as added weight, poor fuel economy, reduced on-road performance and reduced towing performance.

While a few competitors offer the extra ground clearance, driveline equipment, and chassis hardware necessary to support severe off road driving, the engineers learned that few customers use these extreme capabilities regularly. Conceptually, Ridgeline customers are more inclined to use motorcycles and ATVs for extreme off-road recreation, not the truck they drive everyday.

Honda engineers concluded that a robust medium-duty off-road capability was most consistent with the needs of the customer and the philosophy behind a next generation of truck that offers a smarter balance of capabilities with a higher level of comfort, convenience and real-world versatility. Medium-duty capability readily supports trips to remote trailheads for motorcycle, ATV and mountain bike riding, and camping, as well as excellent all-weather capabilities. Also, anybody who has ever driven down a "washboard" dirt road in a body-on-frame truck can appreciate the refinement afforded by the Ridgeline's unibody structure, which more effectively minimizes the severe vibrations that can occur. To define exactly what constitutes medium-duty off-road capability, the Ridgeline engineering team selected 14 key performance criteria based on observations of typical off-road adventurers. They then utilized special test courses at their R&D facilities in North America to assure that the Ridgeline delivers all the intended capabilities with impeccable reliability and durability along with real world verification.

The list of test courses includes:

  • 28-degree dirt hill
  • Sand hill
  • Water pit
  • Rock roads
  • Embedded log course
  • Step-up, step-down
  • Sand drag strip
  • Gully course
  • Ground contact course
  • Washboard road
  • Frame twister
  • Power hop hill (23-degree slope with rippled surface)
  • Gravel road
  • Startable grade

The results speak for themselves - the Ridgeline has 8.2 inches of ground clearance, a 25-degree approach angle, a 22-degree departure angle, and a 21-degree breakover angle for negotiating rough terrain. It can claw up a 28-degree (53-percent) dirt slope from a dead stop. It can tow a 5,000-pound boat up the steepest of boat ramps.

From Concept to Ridgeline

The Honda SUT Concept vehicle debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and was a demonstration of how a single vehicle can serve as a hub to the world of Honda products such as motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, marine products and power equipment. Lessons learned from years of producing those products were applied to the SUT Concept with synergy evident in details like a bed that can accommodate Honda's longest off-road motorcycle, conveniently located tie-down cleats with load ratings that can accommodate large ATV's, notches in the bed wall and tailgate for motorcycle tires, and good payload and towing capabilities.

Honda's approach to building a truck was to start with a clean slate and create a unique and integrated overall package with distinct advantages that make it a comfortable people hauler, a confident cargo transporter and a practical everyday driver. Traditional truck buyers have had to forego a secure and integrated trunk, athletic driving performance, fuel economy and some passenger comfort in exchange for utility that often exceeds their needs. The Ridgeline addresses those trade-offs and either eliminates or minimizes the choices that must be made between everyday practicality and all-around utility.

Ridgeline Market Position

The light truck market has evolved over the past 15 years from largely work-oriented trucks in 1990, when light trucks accounted for roughly 33 percent of the total vehicle market, to the current mix of work, family, and lifestyle light trucks that account for about 50 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. As the light truck market has evolved to include a broad spectrum of customers who want fewer compromises, the fundamental design elements of pickup trucks have remained largely unchanged with incremental gains in refinement, comfort and practicality. The capabilities of the Ridgeline more closely match the needs of consumers seeking family and lifestyle trucks with its clean-slate approach that maximizes practicality, safety, comfort and handling performance while minimizing the drawbacks inherent to traditional truck designs. From a capabilities standpoint, a ladder with unibody frame structure coupled to a V-6 engine with high-output performance is the perfect choice for many customers that purchase trucks to support their active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles.

Technical Summary


By choosing a unibody frame with an integrated and fully boxed ladder structure as the base for the Ridgeline, the interior can have more space and the body can be more rigid while containing multiple load paths for enhanced collision energy management. The chassis can best utilize a fully independent suspension design for better handling performance. The absence of traditional body-on-frame construction allows for another feature no other truck product can claim - a spacious In-Bed Trunk with secure storage like a car.

Honda's approach to exterior styling on the Ridgeline incorporates a machined billet architecture approach for a solid, strong one-piece appearance. No separation between the bed and the cab exists. Designed to appear modern and athletic with new proportions for a truck design, the Ridgeline incorporates short front and rear overhangs with integrated bumpers, a large and dominating grille connected to a long and expansive hood, large door handles, and large truck-style side mirrors for good rear vision while towing. Primary features of the body include:

  • Athletic stance with new truck proportions and one-piece cab-to-bed design
  • Reinforced deep channel closed box unibody frame with seven crossmembers
  • Anticipated five star front and side impact safety design for NHTSA NCAP and SINCAP tests
  • 5-foot bed (6 1/2 foot with tailgate down) and 4-feet, 1-inch of space between wheel wells
  • Secure In-Bed Trunk with a volume of 8.5 cubic feet
  • Dual-action tailgate swings down or the side and supports heavy loads
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle crash compatibility and pedestrian safety designs

Beneath the Ridgeline's innovative exterior packaging lies an equally innovative closed box unibody frame that provides an exceptionally strong and rigid structure well suited for the rugged demands of towing and heavy cargo loads. With seven high-tensile strength and reinforced cross members creating a closed box ladder frame, the Ridgeline's unibody construction does have a lower frame like a traditional body-on-frame truck. The key difference is that the lower frame integrates into the upper body - and the performance advantages are profound. The bending rigidity is more than 2.5 times stiffer than the best performing compact truck body-on-frame competitor and rear torsion rigidity is more than 20 times stiffer. Unique to the Ridgeline, the lower frame construction utilizes a deep section design that is reinforced internally with high strength steel. The end result is a platform with true truck capabilities that boasts better NVH, a comfortable ride, surprisingly responsive handling, a more solid feeling, improved fit and finish and reduced squeaks and rattles.

The pickup bed features composite SMC construction and has a payload capacity of 1,100 pounds. Thanks to the unibody construction, wheel well intrusion has been minimized to just a few inches. Careful consideration was given to the safety design for occupant protection from cargo, so special load distributing high strength steel braces and reinforcements are integrated into the cab/bed separation wall.

Convenience features include four lights - two on the C-pillars that illuminate the cargo box from above and two near the rear of the bed that illuminate the In-Bed Trunk and tailgate. The dual mode tailgate swings down to make cargo loading in the bed easy, while it also can swing to the side to allow easy access to the secure In-Bed Trunk. The secure In-Bed Trunk provides about two-thirds the volume of an Accord Coupe trunk with dimensions large enough for three golf bags.

Unibody construction also allows for integration of an advanced safety design that disperses collision forces through more load bearing channels than a traditional body-on-frame truck design. As a socially responsible vehicle, the Ridgeline addresses vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility with a frame design that is engineered to connect with the bumpers on cars. Also, the hood, windshield wipers and related hard mounting points are designed with crush and breakaway designs in accordance to Honda's high internal standards for pedestrian safety.


The Ridgeline's V-6 powertrain was designed for towing and excellent all-around capabilities. With high-output performance, Honda's 255-horsepower normally aspirated V-6 engine provides more horsepower than any V-6 in the compact truck segment and it offers more horsepower than competitors' optional V-8 engines such as the 2005 Dodge Dakota with 250 horsepower. Unique in the compact truck class, the Ridgeline provides a standard automatic transmission and a standard, fully automatic four-wheel drive system. Primary features of the powertrain include:

  • Transverse-mounted all-aluminum 3.5-liter SOHC VTEC V-6 Engine
  • 255 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm and 252 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
  • 5-speed automatic transmission with electronic direct control system
  • VTM-4 four-wheel drive system
  • Drive-by-Wire throttle control
  • Standard automatic transmission cooler and power steering cooler for towing
  • Three-rocker VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control)
  • Dual-stage intake manifold
  • High mounted fresh air intake
  • High capacity radiator and cooling fans
  • Tier 2 Bin 5 Federal Emissions / LEV2 ULEV California emissions

The Ridgeline's 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 delivers estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 16/21* for city/ highway driving and its 22-gallon fuel tank provides a maximum range of 462 miles. The 5-speed automatic transmission features a direct control system for precise, firm shifts and gear ratios have been optimized for towing. The VTM-4 electronic four-wheel drive system, also used on other Honda and Acura products, has programming that sends up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels and intelligently provides power to the wheel that has the most traction in conjunction with the VSA system.
(*Estimate of EPA fuel economy rating based on internal Honda data.)

Primary benefits of this technology are decision-free operation and enhanced stability on split traction surfaces such as when pulling off of a snowy highway shoulder and onto a freshly plowed road. For extremely low traction situations in snow, sand or mud, the Ridgeline has a lock mode (actuated by putting the vehicle into first, second or reverse gears and pressing the VTM-4 button on the instrument panel) to drive both rear wheels with equal left/right torque at speeds between 0 and 18 mph. For enhanced water fording capabilities and increased fresh air flow for the demands of towing, a fresh air intake is utilized that takes in air from the front of the vehicle near the top of the hood. In true truck fashion, the intake and exhaust systems have been tuned to provide a throaty exhaust growl.


Designed with 1,550-pound total vehicle payload toughness and 5000 lb. towing in mind, the Ridgeline's chassis features a fully-independent front and rear suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a unique multi-link with trailing arm design in the rear. With the most advanced brake system technology on the market, the Ridgeline features 4-channel Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with active yaw control for increased driver control during accident avoidance maneuvers, aggressive cornering and bad weather. The VSA system monitors lateral (cornering) stability and discretely integrates traction control, 4-wheel drive, anti-lock braking, throttle control and stability control functions by modulating brake power at each wheel and controlling throttle input. Not nearly as intrusive as some stability systems currently available, Honda's VSA system feels smooth and unobtrusive to deliver neutral, predictable and safe handling characteristics. Honda's 4-channel VSA system is unique to the compact truck market (all other compact truck stability systems only have three channels and some do not operate in 4-wheel-drive mode) and it controls each wheel individually. Primary features of the chassis include:

  • Front MacPherson strut suspension
  • Rear multi-link with trailing arm suspension
  • Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control
  • 12.6-inch front/13.1-inch rear 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist
  • 17x7.5 wheels and P245/65 R17 All-Season Tires
  • Standard tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) provides individual low pressure warnings


The interior concept takes advantage of the Ridgeline's superior packaging efficiency to deliver a full-size interior space in a mid-size exterior footprint. With a cavernous approach that accommodates people, cargo and gear, dimensions inside approach that of a full size truck and provide ample headroom and wide, yet supportive seating surfaces. The driving position provides typical Honda access with large and easy-to-use controls. The large multi-function console features a sliding armrest and sliding lower tray - each with a hidden storage area.
Other console storage areas intelligently accommodate both large items and smaller items like wireless phones, beverages, compact discs and more.

Rear seat legroom and the sitting angle of the rear seats result in top-class comfort for adults. The 60/40 lift-up rear seats feature underseat storage large enough to securely accommodate a golf bag (legs extend down from the front of the seat to provide four bars that hold large objects in place). Plus, the rear seating area can be quickly converted for cargo duty by lifting the seats up to create a space large enough to fit a full-size mountain bike with the front tire removed. As a no compromise truck, even the windshield wipers have a heated wiper zone that enhances wiper performance in winter driving conditions. The latest generation of the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition and Zagat Survey™ restaurant information is available on RTL models, and XM Satellite Radio comes standard on those models.

Primary features of the interior include:

  • 5-passenger seating
  • 60/40 lift-up rear seat with underseat storage
  • Dual-stage, dual threshold front airbags
  • Front driver side airbag and front passenger side airbag with OPDS
  • Two-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensor
  • Large multi-functional center storage console with sliding armrest
  • Family-friendly rear seat with three LATCH positions
  • Rear passenger ventilation
  • Cupholders in armrests and door linings
  • Automatic heated windshield wiper zone
  • Available leather interior and power moonroof
  • Available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition
  • Available XM Radio (standard on RTL with moonroof models)

Trim Levels

The 2006 Ridgeline is available in three trim levels - the well-equipped RT, the full-featured RTS and the luxury-oriented RTL.

Standard features on the Ridgeline RT include a 255 horsepower SOHC VTEC V-6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, VTM-4 four-wheel drive, 5000-pound towing rating, 17-inch wheels, 245/65R17 all-terrain tires, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control, advanced dual stage dual threshold driver's and front passenger's Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags, two-row side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, climate control with air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, power windows, power sliding rear window, power locks, cruise control, keyless entry, automatic heated wiper zone, 6-speaker 100-watt audio system with CD player, 60/40 lift-up rear seat with underseat storage, all-weather heavy-duty floormats, 5-foot by 4-foot cargo bed with six heavy duty tie down cleats, secure In-Bed Trunk, dual-action load supporting tailgate and cargo box courtesy lighting.

The Ridgeline RTS adds alloy wheels, a seven-speaker 160-watt audio system with subwoofer and six-disc in-dash audio system with steering wheel controls, dual zone automatic climate control and an eight-way power driver's seat.

The Ridgeline RTL adds leather seating surfaces, HomeLink controls, heated front seats and an available power moonroof. Models with the power moonroof come with an interior compass in the rearview mirror, XM Satellite Radio and are available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System (minus the rearview mirror compass).

Exterior and Interior Colors

The Ridgeline is available in six exterior colors and three interior colors. Listed below are the exterior and interior color combinations:

Exterior / Interior:

Redrock Pearl / Beige
Nighthawk Black / Beige
Steel Blue / Gray
White / Olive
White / Beige
Billet Silver / Gray
Amazon Green / Olive (RTS and RTL only)

2006 Honda Ridgeline Quick Facts

  • First integrated high-volume secure In-Bed Trunk
  • Largest Honda vehicle ever produced
  • First steel reinforced SMC bed
  • Highest tow rating of any Honda vehicle
  • Longest wheelbase of any Honda product (122.0 inches)
  • First fully independent suspension in pickup truck segment
  • First truck to have a heated wiper zone
  • First application of roof mounted hidden antenna on a truck
  • First application of automatic door lock function on a Honda vehicle
  • Largest side mirrors of any Honda vehicle

About Honda

Honda (NYSE: HMC) is one of today's leading manufacturers of automobiles and power products and the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. With more than 120 manufacturing facilities in 30 countries worldwide, Honda now earns nearly 20 million customers annually.

September 2004 marked the 25th anniversary of the first product assembled by Honda in North America. From that first motorcycle built in Ohio in 1979, Honda now has 12 major plants in the region, producing a range of products and components including cars and light trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and lawn mowers and the engines and transmissions that power them.

More than 75% of the cars and light trucks that Honda sells in the U.S. are built in North America. Increasingly, many of these products are developed in America as well, including the Honda Ridgeline, Civic Coupe, Element and Pilot and the Acura TL and MDX.

2006 Honda Ridgeline Specifications Overview with Competitive Summary

2006 Honda Ridgeline RTS
2005 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Doublecab V-6 AT Shortbed
2005 Dodge Dakota 4D Quad Cab SLT 4WD V-6 AT
2005 Chevrolet Colorado Z85 4D 4WD I-5 AT
2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT 4x4
Body/Frame Construction
Boxed Ladder frame with Unibody
3.5-liter V-6
4.0-liter V-6
3.7-liter V-6
3.5-liter I-5
4.0 V-6
Horsepower @ RPM
255 @ 5750
245 @ 5200
210 @ 5200
220 @ 5600
210 @ 5150
Torque @ RPM
252 @ 4500
282 @ 3800
235 @ 4000
225 @ 2800
242 @ 3000
EPA Fuel Economy
5A (standard)
5A (option)
4A (option), 5A (option)
4A (option)
5A (standard)
4WD System
VTM-4 Fully Automatic
Part Time
Standard Part Time, Full Time Optional
Part Time
Part Time
Rear Locking Differential
Automatic Locking Optional
Wheelbase (in.)
Overall Length (in.)
Overall Width (in.)
Curb Weight (lbs.)
Ground Clearance (in.)
Tow Rating (lbs.)
5000 Standard
3500 standard / 6500 available
Payload Capacity (lbs.)
Interior Volume
Not Advertised
Not Advertised
Front Leg Room
Rear Leg Room
4-Wheel ABS
Rear wheel standard, front optional
Vehicle Stability Assist
Side Curtain Airbags
Bed Length (inches)
Bed Width (inches)
Between wheel wells
Secure In-Bed Trunk

* Honda test data using SAE measurement methods (directly comparable to Ridgeline measurement).