The balance between form and function is something automotive designers are constantly wrestling with. In the case of the 2010 Honda Ridgeline, function is the clear winner. The midsize Ridgeline pickup may lack the macho attitude of many rivals, but it compensates with a healthy dose of pure unadulterated practicality. The result is a well-rounded midsize pickup with a unique combination of strengths.
Built on the same unibody platform as the Odyssey minivan and previous-generation Pilot SUV, the Ridgeline trades the enclosed rear cargo areas of those models for a 5-foot-long truck bed. Using these lighter-duty underpinnings gives the Ridgeline a number of advantages over traditional body-on-frame pickups, starting with noticeably better handling and a more carlike ride. A lower overall height also makes it easier to get in and out of the comfortable five-passenger cabin.
The Ridgeline's main attraction, however, is that 5-foot bed. Made out of a steel-reinforced composite material, the bed makes rust and dents a non-issue. While it's short by full-size pickup standards, there's still enough room for a pair of dirt bikes or an ATV with the tailgate lowered. It also incorporates two innovative features -- a large under-floor "trunk" compartment and a tailgate that both flips down and swings out like a door -- that are so useful, they make you wonder why nobody thought of them sooner.
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