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2009 Honda Ridgeline Adds Power, New Look and More Standard Equipment Review

November 2008
Filed under: STANDARD Car News | STANDARD Headlines
Updated for 2009 with a total of 50 significant changes and new features, the Honda Ridgeline takes on a bolder look and feel with new exterior and interior styling along with a more powerful engine. A trailer hitch becomes standard on every model, and newly-introduced premium features include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and a rearview backup camera on Ridgeline RTL models equipped with the available Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System.

The Honda Ridgeline continues to be the only pickup truck available with a spacious In-Bed Trunk that provides hidden, dry and secure storage capable of swallowing luggage, tool boxes and coolers.

Front and rear styling updates combine to create a more-chiseled overall appearance with revisions to the grille, bumpers, and headlight and taillight color combinations. Inside, styling updates include revised three-dimensional-style meters, a new steering wheel design, and enhanced controls, buttons and displays for the air conditioning, audio, cruise control and headlights. New technology-friendly features include the addition of a 115-volt power outlet on the Ridgeline RTL, MP3/auxiliary input jack on the Ridgeline RTS and RTL, and all audio systems become MP3/WMA compatible. New safety features include active front seat head restraints and daytime running lights. Capable of accommodating 4-foot-wide sheets of plywood between the wheel wells, the composite cargo bed, gains two cargo tie-down points (eight total).

"The Ridgeline channels the company's vast experience with motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, marine engines, personal water craft, power equipment and automotive products," said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The end result is a truck designed to best meet the needs of people who take family, work and recreation seriously. All-around, it's the right tool for the job."

The four-door, five-passenger Ridgeline is built on a closed-box, unit-body frame that combines the strength characteristics of a ladder frame with the packaging and handling advantages of a unit-body design. All 2009 Ridgelines are powered by a 250- horsepower , 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine. A 5-speed electronically-controlled automatic transmission and a Variable Torque Management 4-wheel drive system (VTM-4) are standard. The EPA rates city/highway/combined fuel economy at 15/20/17. A fully-independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link suspension design in the rear contribute to a smooth ride and responsive handling. Standard equipment for towing includes an integrated tow hitch, transmission and oil coolers, heavy duty brakes, dual radiator fans and a wiring harness for a 7-pin trailer hook up (pre-wiring only on RT). Maximum recommended tow capacity is 5,000 pounds.

A 5-foot-long composite cargo bed provides a half-ton payload rating of 1,100 lbs. Four cargo area lights illuminate both the bed and the in-bed trunk. A dual-action tailgate opens down for traditional access to the cargo area or to the side for ease-of-access to the lockable In-Bed Trunk. New accessories for 2009 include a motorcycle bed extender and a bed-mount bicycle attachment, in addition to a wide variety of existing accessories that are designed to accommodate motorcycles and ATVs.

The all-aluminum, 60-degree, SOHC 3.5-liter VTEC engine produces 250-horsepower at 5700 rpm and 247 lb-ft. of torque at 4300 rpm. The Ridgeline's variable valve timing enhances low rpm torque while extending high rpm horsepower for a broad, confidence-inspiring power band. For 2009, the engine produces three more horsepower and a torque curve that is up to 10 lb-ft. broader at RPMs as low as 2500 - while maintaining the same EPA-rated fuel economy as 2008 and its CARB Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle certification.

The majority of the additional power is achieved through a new camshaft profile tuned for maximum torque, larger intake valves and a revised dual-stage intake manifold capable of a higher flow rate (now made from ultra-lightweight magnesium instead of aluminum).

A closer look inside the engine bay reveals more technical enhancements. Improved engine control electronics incorporate a 6-degree crank pulse sensor for enhanced knock control. An airflow meter within the air intake increases fuel injection precision. Optimized coolant passages in the engine block increase cooling performance and allow for more advanced ignition timing, contributing to power in demanding situations. A new EGR valve runs from behind one of the close-coupled catalytic converters to the cylinder head cover.

Upgrades have also been made to the starter motor, now more powerful and quick-starting. Cranking time has been reduced to the point where full engine ignition occurs in ultra-quick succession from the point where the key reaches the start position.

Revised transmission gear ratios are configured to take advantage of the additional engine torque for responsive acceleration during normal driving, towing or hauling heavy cargo loads. Gears 3 and 4 are approximately 5 percent lower to accommodate enhanced passing performance.

The fully-automatic VTM-4 system provides confident, decision-free operation in rain, snow, ice, sand and mud, while also improving on-road and towing performance by distributing torque to all four wheels as needed. The system operates predominately in front-wheel-drive during dry-pavement cruising conditions and continuously proportions torque to the rear wheels during acceleration and low traction situations.

The Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system, commonly referred to as electronic stability control, can apply braking force to a wheel with low traction and direct driving force to the wheel with more traction. For the rear differential, a "VTM-4" lock button located on the instrument panel allows the driver to temporarily hold engagement of both rear wheels to aid traction while in gears "1" and "2" at speeds of up to 18 mph.

Designed for 1,550-pound total vehicle payload toughness, the Ridgeline integrates a fully-independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link with trailing arm design in the rear. The VSA system with active yaw control monitors lateral (cornering) stability and discretely integrates traction control, four-wheel drive, anti-lock braking, throttle control and stability control functions by modulating brake power at each wheel and controlling throttle input. The VSA system is designed to feel smooth and unobtrusive for neutral, predictable and safe handling characteristics.

The heavy duty braking system includes 12.6-inch front and 13.1-inch rear 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. Wheels on the Ridgeline RT are 17x7.5-inch steel affairs; the Ridgeline RTS upgrades to alloy. P245/65 R17 all-season tires are standard on the Ridgeline RT and RTS. The Ridgeline RTL is equipped with new-for-2009 18x7.5-inch alloy wheels and P245/60 R18 all-season tires. A standard tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) provides individual low pressure warnings. A tow hitch becomes standard equipment on every 2009 model and a 7-pin wiring harness is included on the Ridgeline RTS and RTL. The 22-gallon fuel tank provides a maximum highway driving range of up to 373 miles based on the EPA-rated combined city/highway fuel economy and the fuel tank capacity.

The closed-box, unit-body architecture delivers vastly superior rigidity compared to traditional body-on-frame designs and provides the foundation for the Ridgeline's spacious interior cabin and bed, outstanding safety performance and class-leading ride and handling performance.

By choosing a unit body 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 elimination of traditional body-on-frame construction allows for another feature no other truck product can claim - a spacious In-Bed Trunk with 8.5 cubic feet of secure storage.

Honda's approach to exterior styling on the Ridgeline incorporates a machined billet architecture styling approach for a solid, strong one-piece appearance. No separation between the bed and the cab exists. Designed to appear modern and athletic, 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. The windshield wipers have a heated wiper zone that enhance wiper performance and minimize ice scraping in cold, winter driving conditions.

For 2009, vehicle length measures 207.0 inches, up 0.2 inches due to the new front and rear bumper design. All other key dimensions remain the same: wheelbase 122.0 inches, height 70.3 inches, width 76.3 inches, track front/rear 67.1/66.9 inches, and ground clearance 8.2 inches. The approach, rampover and departure angles (in degrees) measure 24.5, 21.0 and 22.0, respectively.

The cargo area measures 49.5 inches wide between the wheel wells, 20.7 inches deep and 60.0 inches long (79.0 inches with the load-supporting tailgate in the down position). The tailgate is rated to support up to 300 pounds (while the vehicle is moving) and can easily close with contaminates like sand, snow or mud in the space between the bumper and the tailgate.

The interior takes advantage of the Ridgeline's superior unit-body packaging efficiency to deliver full-size interior space dimensions while maintaining a garage-friendly, mid-size exterior footprint. The driving position provides ergonomically comfortable access to large and easy-to-use controls - the majority of which become more tactile and user-friendly for 2009.

The large multi-function console features a sliding armrest and sliding lower tray - each with a hidden storage area. Other console storage areas accommodate items both large and small like mobile phones, beverages, compact discs and portable digital music players.

The 60/40 lift-up rear seats feature a storage area underneath large enough to accommodate a golf bag. Plus, the rear seating area can be quickly converted for cargo duty by lifting the seats up to create enough room for a full-size mountain bike with the front tire removed. Family-friendly, the rear seat incorporates three LATCH positions.

The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition and Zagat Survey restaurant information is available on RTL models and includes XM Satellite Radio. An off-road tracking function remembers where the vehicle has traveled within unmapped regions.

The 2006 Ridgeline was the first-ever 4-door pickup to receive the federal government's top 5-star safety rating, the highest safety rating possible, for both frontal and side impacts. The 2009 Ridgeline continues to achieve the highest 5-star ratings for frontal and side impacts. All Ridgelines are equipped with standard anti-lock brakes; VSA; brake assist; advanced dual-stage, dual-threshold driver's and front passenger's SRS airbags ; front side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System(OPDS); two-row side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; front seat active head restraints; a tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

Trim Levels
Standard comfort and convenience features on the Ridgeline RT include an integrated trailer hitch, pre-wiring for 7-pin trailer wiring, trip computer with instaneous and average fuel economy; air conditioning; tilt steering wheel; power windows and door locks; power sliding rear window; cruise control; keyless entry; automatic heated wiper zone; a six-speaker, 100-watt audio system with CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability; 60/40 split lift-up rear seat with underseat storage;.

The Ridgeline RTS adds alloy wheels; a 7-pin trailer wiring connector; body-color painted door handles; painted inner grille surfaces; a seven-speaker 160-watt audio system with subwoofer and six-disc in-dash audio system; steering wheel-mounted controls; an auxiliary audio input jack; dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support; privacy glass; and all-weather floor mats.

The RTL adds a leather-trimmed interior with heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels; fog lights, moonroof, a 110-volt power outlet, XM Satellite Radio, HomeLink remote system, carpeted floor mats, and a compass in the rearview mirror. A Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with voice recognition is available (and replaces the rear-view mirror interior compass). Vehicles equipped with the navigation system also include Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and a multi-information display.

50 Significantly Changed and New Features

Exterior Styling and Features

* Grille (design)
* Front bumper (design)
* Rear bumper (design)
* Headlight (color)
* Taillight (color)
* Bed tie-downs (two additional, eight total)
* Integrated trailer hitch (new for RT, RTS and RTL)
* 7-pin trailer wiring connector (new for RTS and RTL)
* Daytime running lights (new)
* Three new exterior colors
* Fog lights (RTL)
* 18-inch Alloy Wheels (RTL)
* 4WD emblem (design)


* Horsepower and torque (increased)
* Magnesium dual-stage intake manifold (previously aluminum)
* Camshaft (tuned for low-end torque)
* Intake valves (larger)
* Starter motor (ultra-fast)
* Transmission gear ratios (lower for better acceleration)
* 6-degree crank pulse sensor
* Airflow meter within the air intake tract
* Optimized engine block coolant passages
* New EGR valve

Interior Styling and Features

* Steering wheel design
* 3-D-look speedometer, tachometer and IP meter designs
* New front seat active head restraints
* New trip computer
* New MP3/WMA compatibility
* Auxiliary audio input jack (RTS and RTL)
* Cloth seating materials (RT and RTS)
* New black interior color
* Power lumbar support (RTS)
* Carpeted floor mats (RTL)
* New integrated rearview camera (RTL w/Navi)
* New Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (RTL w/Navi)
* New multi-information display (RTL w/Navi)
* Interior color schemes (revised)
* Air conditioning controls (more ergonomic)
* Air condition display (larger icons)
* Clock display (enhanced)
* Headlight switch (recessed, more ergonomic)
* Door handle design (more integrated appearance)
* Sunroof button (improved)
* Cruise control button (improved)


* New motorcycle bed extender
* New bed-mount bicycle attachment
* New 18-inch accessory wheel
* New Bluetooth HandsFreeLink adapter
* Accessory grille (restyled)
* New Front lower air deflector

* Based on 2009 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

** Certain functions that rely on a satellite signal will not work correctly in Hawaii and Alaska. These functions include but are not limited to automatic clock updates and time zone adjustments.

*** Required XM Radio monthly subscription sold separately after 90 day trial period. Installation costs and other fees and taxes may apply after initial trial period, including a one-time activation fee. Subscription fee is consumer only. All fees and programming subject to change. Subscriptions subject to Customer Agreement available at XM service only available in the 48 contiguous United States. The XM name is a registered trademark of XM Satellite Radio Inc.

Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's ( NHTSA ) New Car Assessment Program (

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