Contrary to some media reporting, Honda's publications state that the first–generation (2006–2014) Ridgeline was a uniquely engineered vehicle with 7% of its components shared with other Honda vehicles. Honda engineers started by building "a mission-specific platform" using high-strength steel across a fully boxed "four bone" ladder-like frame. Honda engineers also created "a unique suspension design with custom components, unique sheetmetal and an exclusive interior." Its powertrain does resemble the one used in the first–generation Acura MDX but, according to Honda, was "extensively calibrated and strengthened" for heavier hauling and towing duties.
Modifying various parts to support heavier hauling, towing, and more aggressive off-road use
Incorporating notable features from the first–generation, such as the dual-action tailgate and in–bed trunk
Adding new exclusive features, such as Honda's truck bed audio system
Despite these modifications, Honda has stated that 73% of the Gen2 Ridgeline's components remain common in some way with the third–generation Pilot.
In addition to being a unibody pickup with a transverse-mounted engine, and a crew-cab short-box configuration, Honda and some automotive journalists have described other noteworthy aspects of the Ridgeline including:
Dual-action tailgate and in-bed trunk operations, as demonstrated on a first-generation Honda Ridgeline (2012 Sport)
A scratch and dent-resistant half-ton capacity composite bed
A large interior for a mid-size pickup
Some in the automotive press that have studied the first-generation Ridgeline, such as PickupTrucks.com, consider it "one of those odd vehicles." They wrote, "The Ridgeline can't really do what most people who like trucks need it to do." Others in the automotive press, such as The Driver's Seat TV, had differing views and call the Ridgeline, "the Swiss Army knife of trucks." They also called the Ridgeline "the anti-truck"—due to Honda's lack of following the rules—and summarized their view by saying "the Ridgeline scores high on practicality but very low on image."
Compared to the first-generation Ridgeline, Honda's Gen2 Ridgeline has the automotive press changing its tune, yet it still has an image problem. Gearheads.org wrote the "2017 Honda Ridgeline still won’t get respect but should" stating, its "downside is going to be looks."Car and Driver wrote, "The company [Honda] readily admits that the problem with the first-generation pickup was that the styling was off-putting, but then it went ahead and made the next iteration of the truck just as unconventional as before." "The Ridgeline’s roomy cabin, ample storage, smooth ride, and innovative touches make its rivals seem outdated. ...it not only has cargo space, but also the makings of a great tailgate party..."
Production and sales
The first Honda Ridgeline went on sale in March 2005 as a 2006 model year vehicle. Production of the first–generation Ridgeline ended in early 2015. After a one-year hiatus in production, the Gen2 Ridgeline went on sale in June 2016 as a 2017 model year vehicle and is still in production.
According to Honda, the Ridgeline was not designed to steal sales from the more traditional trucks sold in North America, but was developed to "give the 18% of Honda owners who also own pickups a chance to make their garages a Honda-only parking area." Despite the first–generation Ridgeline's poor sales, according to the author of Driving Honda, this mid-size pickup was one of the more profitable vehicles for Honda with reported sales in over 20 countries.
The Gen2 Ridgeline sales appeared to start strong but comparing sales in the US between 2017 and 2018 shows a 12% decline overall. A 2018 Autoline Daily report stated the Ridgeline is the only mid-size truck in North America whose sales are down in a market that "suggests there’s room for more players."
IIHS's first pickup to earn the "Top Safety Pick-Plus" award (2017) and has also earned the "Top Safety Pick" award for 2009, 2012, 2013, and is the only pickup to earned the award for 2018 and 2019