ASHEVILLE, N.C. — There are abounding auto trucks in this little boondocks in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are Chevrolets, Fords, Dodge trucks — and an casual archetypal from Nissan or Toyota. The affair is clear: This is American pickup-truck country.
But Asheville and agnate towns are area Honda Motor Co., Ltd., hopes to board accepted notions about auto trucks in America. The Japanese agent architect has alien the 2006 Honda Ridgeline, which some industry pundits are already calling the “anti-pickup pickup.”
Downside: The high-walled, actual abbreviate burden bed in the Ridgeline seems to accept little address for acceptable pickup-truck buyers, who about badinage it as actuality contemporary and inadequate. But, the Ridgeline is not aimed at them anyway.
Ride, dispatch and handling: Acceptable barter buyers acquisition it bendable in ride and handling. No one complained about its acceleration, abnormally in artery lane changes. Non-traditional pickup-truck buyers actually admired aggregate about the Ridgeline in these three categories — abnormally the truck’s sedan-like handling, afforded by a four-wheel absolute abeyance system.
Head-turning quotient: The women actually admired it! That is an acutely important business advantage for Honda. According to U.S. auto industry business surveys, women admission an estimated 85 percent of all new-vehicle sales in this country. That agency if the woman of the abode doesn’t appetite it, the man in the abode apparently won’t buy it.
Body style/layout: The activated Ridgeline RTL S/R is a front-engine, four-door, four-wheel-drive, full-size auto barter with a abbreviate burden bed and lockable in-bed trunk.
Engine/transmission: The Ridgeline has a accepted 3.5-liter, 24-valve V6 agent that develops 255 application at 5,750 revolutions per minute and 252 foot-pounds of torque at 4,500 revolutions per minute. The agent is akin to a five-speed automated transmission.
Burden and ammunition capacities: The Ridgeline has basement for bristles people. Maximum payload, the weight of what it can backpack onboard, is 1,554 pounds. Maximum towing capacity, what it can pull, is 5,000 pounds. Lockable in-bed block accommodation is nine cubic feet. The ammunition catchbasin holds 22 gallons of approved unleaded fuel.
Mileage: I averaged 17 afar per gallon in burghal and artery driving.
Safety: Accepted ancillary air bags; head-curtain air accoutrements with rollover sensor; four-wheel antilock brakes; tire-pressure ecology system; lower anchors and tethers in rear berth for child-safety seats.
Price: The antecedent appropriate abject amount for the 2006 Ridgeline RTL S/R 4WD is $32,640. Estimated banker balance on that archetypal is $29,000. Amount as activated is $33,155, including a $515 destination charge. These antecedent prices will change. Expect little acceding allowance on this one in aboriginal sales. Consumer appeal is accepted to be high. Prices sourced from Honda and www.edmunds.com.
Purse-strings note: This one will sell, abnormally to non-traditional pickup-truck buyers. Compare with annihilation in the accepted pickup-truck category.
The appropriately alleged Ridgeline — the RTL S/R 4WD adaptation activated for this week’s cavalcade — is appealing central and out. It has a two-tone leather-covered interior; the abundance and basement amplitude of a affluence auto advised for bristles people; an arrangement of cleverly amid accumulator bins, nooks and crannies, evocative of a well-executed minivan or base wagon; and, of course, it has Honda’s allegorical high-quality fit and finish.
But the ultimate “wow” agency of the Ridgeline has little to do with its affable commuter cabin, or with acceptable pickup-truck ethics such as the adeptness to booty abundant loads, cull stumps or bang up dust and mud on off-road trails. Instead, it is a almost simple affair — so simple, you admiration why Honda’s rivals did not anticipate of it ages ago. It’s a deep-dish, lockable, in-cargo bed block able of accustomed nine cubic anxiety of baggage — calmly all-around two ample soft-pack biking bags, or several accoutrements of groceries.
That lockable block has accessible access, acknowledgment to the Ridgeline’s tailgate, which swings both means — up and bottomward for acceptable pickup-bed loading; and side-to-side in the address of a aperture to a abode or apartment.
The Ridgeline’s burden bed itself is abbreviate — almost bristles anxiety long, abundant to board clay bikes and added recreational equipment; or, application tie-down latches, that bed is absolute for accustomed babyish carriages and added family-support items commonly hauled in minivans and wagons.
There is a beheld and concrete benevolence about the Ridgeline that runs adverse to the accepted American pickup-truck angel — rough, tough, able and accommodating to booty on the world. Indeed, those are the characteristics of the Chevy and Ford trucks, and the Dodge Ram and Dakota models that are so accepted here.
If auto trucks were a religion, best of the owners of those cartage in Asheville would be fundamentalists. Beauty actuality is a auto barter that is dented, scratched, banged and dinged — affidavit that it can booty a beating, cycle with the adversity and, as some of the bounded argot puts it, “keep on keepin’ on.”
That is why the acceptable manufacturers of accepted auto trucks — Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and the Dodge Barter Group of DaimlerChrysler Corp. — commonly use advancing macho images and words to advance their wares. Ford’s pickups are “Ford Tough.” GM’s models are congenital “like a rock.” Dodge is “Ram tough.” Both Toyota Motor Co. and Nissan accept gotten into the hard-as-nails act with models from Toyota alleged Tacoma and Tundra; and with the new, can’t-miss-the-message, full-sized Titan from Nissan.
By comparison, the Ridgeline in both name and address is advisedly cryptic — adjoining on the bend of article that defies definition, that is neither auto nor sedan; that is both bendable and tough; article that pays admiration to long-held account of manhood, but accompanying says acerb and audibly that men would be annihilation after women.
The ambition buyers for the Ridgeline are what could be alleged “new-age universalists” — women and men who are non-traditional barter buyers, bodies who admiration some of the account of a auto barter but who appetite article appreciably more.
The men in this aggregation never objected abundant to active or owning minivans and wagons. The women capital article that served their alone and ancestors needs after defining them as “soccer moms” or atrocious housewives. They both should fit accurately into the Ridgeline. Honda believes they are in the majority, alike in places such as Asheville, area the majority generally has a acceptability for actuality silent.
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