FIRST DRIVE: 2017 HONDA RIDGELINE | Harold Zeigler Honda Kalamazoo MI
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Date posted: June 1, 2016


For several years now, Honda has produced the Ridgeline – a truck-like vehicle based on its popular Pilot mid-size crossover SUV. Because of that lineage, the Ridgeline is not built like other trucks. Instead of classic body-on-frame architecture, the Ridgeline is built on a unibody platform of steel stampings that are welded and bolted together. That’s the main thing you need to know, because every difference between the Ridgeline and the other mid-size trucks is based on that fact. Now for 2017, Honda has largely reengineered the Ridgeline to compete head-to-head with the leading mid-size pickups from Toyota, GM, and Nissan.

The ladder of technology

Conventional automobile frames are called ladder frames because – spoiler alert- they look like ladders. You have two long parallel frame rails, and then a bunch of cross-members that tie the main frame rails together. That’s how people used to make horse-drawn wagons, and so the early automakers just kind of went with what they knew. But a truck’s wheels exert all kinds of mechanical leverage at the four corners, so a ladder frame tends to twist in cornering and over bumps. Conversely, a unibody frame can be made more rigid because the arches of the roof and cowl reinforce the floorpan.

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