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2012 Honda Ridgeline Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Honda Ridgeline was new.


Performance: 7.9

Reviewers say that even though the 2012 Honda Ridgeline does not have all the macho towing and off-roading capabilities that other pickups have, it far outperforms regular trucks in city driving with its car-like handling and comfortable ride. Some reviewers bemoan the Ridgeline’s low tow rating of 5,000 pounds and V6 engine that’s a bit weaker than competitors. Still, the Honda Ridgeline serves up plenty of truck for weekend warriors, without sacrificing weekly commuting comfort.

  • “Ridgeline's independent rear suspension cushions bumps better than nearly all solid-axle-equipped competitors.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "For today's confident explorer, few things maintain that confidence better than 4WD. And despite its lack of a low range, VTM-4 (four-wheel drive) does an admirable job of navigating the logging trail, winter snow or seasonal downpour. And in diverting up to 70 percent of available power to the rear wheels, power goes exactly where it should go when towing a trailer.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Towing is modest by class standards, but the Ridgeline’s versatility, carlike handling, and fuel economy are tops.” -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The Honda Ridgeline offers only one powertrain option: a 3.5-liter V6 that’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and makes 250 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. According to the EPA, the Ridgeline gets 15/21 mpg city/highway, which isn’t bad for a four-wheel drive V6 pickup. That’s better than the EPA rating for a similarly-equipped Nissan Frontier, but not as good as a four-wheel drive V6 Toyota Tacoma.

Reviewers feel that the Ridgeline’s engine provides plenty of power for everyday use. However, other trucks have V8 engines that generate more power and have greater towing capacities, with similar fuel economy ratings. Overall, the Ridgeline’s engine is good for shoppers who need a truck that can take them to and from work during the week and do a little extra on the weekends, but if towing and power are important factors to you, there other options you should consider.

  • "Better fuel economy than most similarly sized pickups.” -- Car and Driver
  • "This pickup has better-than-adequate go, thanks in part to a smooth, responsive transmission. Ridgeline is on par with rival compact pickups with V6s--but behind (Ram) Dakota with its available V8.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "It is - in short - not a relaxed power delivery, and that comes through in more over-the-road mechanical intrusiveness.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the Ridgeline’s unibody construction helps give it a more smooth and comfortable ride than most pickups. They mention that its brakes feel strong and progressive. However, testers don’t agree on the Ridgeline’s steering. One says it’s communicative, while another complains about its light feel. The Honda Ridgeline comes standard with four-wheel drive. A locking rear differential is optional on all trims. That’s unusual for a compact pickup truck since most only offer four-wheel drive as an option.

  • "Unibody platform means it drives like a car: smooth and agile, with rewarding steering.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Drives more like a car or minivan than a typical pickup. Still, Ridgeline's height and heft mean a fair amount of body lean and noseplow in fast turns. Steering feel is too light at low speeds, but a relatively tight turning circle aids parking-lot maneuverability. Braking is strong and sure.” -- Consumer Guide


The Honda Ridgeline can tow up to 5,000 pounds in any configuration, and can haul up to 1,546 pounds in RT, Sport and RTS models. RTL trims can haul a payload of up to 1,497 pounds, but by adding navigation, that capacity decreases to 1,486 pounds. That towing capacity is lower than some other V6-powered compact pickups like the Toyota Tacoma, which can pull up to 6,500 pounds.

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