Ch-Ch-Changes: 2009 Honda Ridgeline


As full-size pickups take a hit from high gas prices, a vehicle like Honda’s Ridgeline should be perfectly placed as an alternative for truck buyers. That’s why Honda has given the Ridgeline some subtle updates for 2009, with minor design tweaks to the front end and interior. Most of the changes, however, won’t make or break a buying decision between an ‘08 and an ‘09. In fact, we’re not sure anyone will even notice there were changes made.

There’s a full photo gallery of the 2009 model below, including a few pics of the ‘08 for comparison purposes. The biggest change inside is to the instrument cluster, it seems, and there’s a new steering wheel. Black is a new interior color as well.

On the power front, the 2009 gets three — yes, three — more horsepower than the 2008, up to 250 hp, but towing capacity remains the same at 5,000 pounds, as does its mileage rating, at 15/20 mpg city/highway. Oddly enough, you can buy a GMC Sierra Crew Cab with a 295 hp V-8 engine and get 15/20 mpg and tow 8,000 pounds. But we digress.

The Ridgeline comes in four trims: RT, RTS, RTL and RTL with Navigation.

We’ve picked out the most interesting of the 50 changes Honda provided us with below. Six of those 50 were accessories.

Exterior Styling and Features

  • Grille (design)
  • Front bumper (design)
  • Rear bumper (design)
  • Integrated trailer hitch (standard for RT, RTS and RTL)
  • 7-pin trailer wiring connector (new for RTS and RTL)
  • Fog lights (RTL)
  • 18-inch alloy wheels (RTL)


  • Horsepower and torque (increased)
  • Transmission gear ratios (lower for better acceleration)

Interior Styling and Features

  • Steering-wheel design
  • 3-D-look speedometer, tachometer and IP meter designs
  • New front-seat active head restraints
  • New trip computer
  • New MP3/WMA compatibility
  • Auxiliary audio input jack (RTS and RTL)
  • New black interior color
  • Power lumbar support (RTS)
  • New integrated rearview camera (RTL w/Navi)
  • New Bluetooth HandsFreeLink (RTL w/Navi)
  • Air conditioning controls (more ergonomic) — this is actually a terrific idea
  • Air conditioning display (larger icons)

By David Thomas | August 7, 2008 | Comments (36)
Tags: Honda



honda is in the "dead" zone of the truck market. too big for a small truck lover (like the ranger), too small for the f-150 crowd. Honda in my opinion only makes this to give accord owners who want to remain in the honda family a choice. The front looks just like the pilot, which i do like.

Juan Carlos

alex, it isn't even a truck.


The design changes are definite improvements, but the Ridgeline is a bit of a gas hog for a V-6, compared to the big GM pickups with V8s and cylinder deactivation. Score one for GM in that showdown.


I think the Ridgeline is a joke and if you think you can get 15/20 out of a GMC Sierra crew cab think again. I love mine but have never seen more than 13 in the city and 17 on the highway regardless of how easy I drive. My GMC dealer said the 15/20 is really only obtainable in perfect conditions. At least he was honest. I still love my truck though.


I think it looks way better than the current one


actually juan it is a truck. it is a carlike uni-body on a truck like ladder frame. and lets be serious a gmc sierra will never get as much real world mileage as the ridgeline i dont care what those numbers say its a 5.3 liter v8 for god sake


Honda never intended to be in the full truck line, nor complete with the likes of a full size P/U truck. Rather it offers truck-like cargo room and a smooth ride without the stiffness that F-150 truck frame offers. In today's market the CR-V and Ridgeline fit right in.

Troy S.

The Ridge is an outstanding truck. Simply plunk your rear end in the seat of one and drive it. I drove mine on an 1800 mile road trip last week and averaged just over 22 MPG on the highway. My dad's 2008 Silverao barely cracked 19 on a good day... unloaded with one passenger.

All of my passenger's gear fit in the trunk, yes "TRUNK" and we all had plenty of room to relax in the cab. The ride was quiet, smooth and I didn't feel the usual road trip "fatigue" that I do in other vehicles.

I can see why Honda didn't make too many changes. The truck is already great. Why would they want to stray away from that?

Comfort, reliability, smooth/quiet ride and decent MPG for an AWD Quad cab truck with 5 star crash ratings, standard side curtain bags, stability control, trunk in the bed, swing out as well as conventional open tail gate and independant suspension. Is there another so called "real truck" with those features?



Did Honda change the rear turn signals to red?

Pilot with a bed.....


troy, outstanding analysis. Your exactly right. Honda is making a great truck, and the double tailgate and car like ride is outstanding. People that buy them are among the smartest shoppers out there. Honda isn't selling many of them of course, but the "die hard american truck owner" is too stubborn and too proud to give their sub par, poorly made truck up. But dont take my word for it, take CR's score of 79 (top rated truck i believe. Most people don't even know that Honda makes a truck, another major problem.


Let's face it, the Ridgeline has plenty of deficiencies.

5 speed automatic, really? 6 speed automatics are what trucks have.
What kind of shift points does the 'revised' gearing have, 1-40, 2-70, 3-110mph,

The transmission selector D5 (D3 button) 2 1.
Not having D4 was a huge shortcoming for towing, 5th is too tall, 3rd is too short. Did that get fixed?

and Honda still recommends premium fuel when/if you decide to tow over 3500lbs. With all those engine modifications, couldn't Honda reduce that recommendation to mid-grade?


Why didn't they give the 09 Ridgeline the same VCM, thats in the Accord and Pilot and Odyssey? That would have least gave the V8 from GMC a run!

Troy S.

Thank you for the kind words Alex. I agree with you too.


6 Speed Auto. I'm ignorant to what trucks currently have a 6 speed auto. Can you please enlightne me? I'm a techy type and like to keep up with stuff like that. 6 Speed auto sounds awesome!

Also, I'd like to point out that the Ridge is not a perfect for every application truck. In fact, there is no perfect truck out there. One could certainly point out deficiencies in every make/model. What do you drive?

My Ridge has been able to tow a boat, camper, U-Haul trailer, haul brush, dirt, mulch, furniture, 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, and a motor cycyle.

If I needed a trcuk that could do more than that, I would have opted for a big V-8 or diesel.... and would pay through the nose at the pump, have difficulty mooring (parking), and maneuvering through city streets and take a hit with resale value.

How many people outside of construction workers, contractors, and farmers TRULY need more capability than 5,000 lbs on a frequent (more than one or two times a year) basis?

A few but, the majority don't.

Troy S.


Because of the Ridgeline's aerodynamics. It takes more engine power to keep it going due to it's "brick" shape and weight.


i do agree though that the vcm should be in the ridgeline also. And 5 speed auto is more than acceptable


Troy S, Alex, I'm not trying to turn this into a flaming thing but I've owned a Chevy Avalanche since 2002 and I'll gladly put it up against a Ridgeline anyday, any place. Granted my highway (loaded) mileage might be less than a RL with 19-20 mpg highway. But please consider these points: I have a V8, more power, better ride, more "secure" cargo space than a RL's so-called trunk, I can put something large in the bed with the tail gate up, a "True" 4x4 with locking diff and I also have a full time Auto-trac if i want high-speed AWD like the RL or 2WD if I choose. Bottom line - if you like the RL great! But Alex, don't ever call me "die hard american truck owner is too stubborn and too proud to give their sub par, poorly made truck up." I have test drove the RL and found it to be only a car-truck. Not what I needed nor liked. Oh BTW, no problems with my Chevy either despite what CR might print. Just my 2 cents.


scott scott scott... answered a question that i never asked. Better ride than a ridgeline? thats laughable!! a car based setup vs a body on frame, which one is going to have a better ride?? I dont think anyone in here (including me) says a ridgeline is a full size truck that can tow 8,000 lbs. What I am saying is that for those who dont need all that towing ability and want a truck that is oveall very good, a ridgeline is better than any american truck. Trucks are the last auto segment where patriotism trumps reality.


Alex, have you ever even driven the new Avalanche or the original '02? The new GMT900 refresh a few years ago now give you coil spring suspension front and rear, not to mention auto-leveling that is std on certain trim levels. This means perfect ride height and suspension load empty or loaded! Which translates into great ride and handling. But the whole BOF issue never was an issue with the Avy's ride. Besides there is no cab-bed flew with the Av because it's body even w/o it's frame is ultra-stiff, and quite different from a Silverado. I'm sorry you feel I'm just another deluded American patriot - but how do you answer this Alex? My friends who own and drive Pilots and Accords praise the ride of my SUT when its my turn to drive! I guess you'd just say they're stupid ppl too or that I'm lying. At least we agree on one point, ppl who buy RL's have different needs than ppl who buy Avys.


scott, we do agree that different people have different needs and tastes. thats agree to disagree


Ford has a 6 speed auto in the new '09 F-150.
It is also in the Explorer SportTrac V8, with independent rear suspension.
Toyota has a 6 speed auto with the 5.7 V8.
GM now has their 6L80 in the Silverado/Sierra 1500, and an Allison HD with the diesel
Chrysler has a 6 speed automatic in the heavier duty versions of the Ram.

What Honda needs is a 3.7 V6 with cylinder shutoff, and a 6 speed double clutch transmission.
But Honda won't do that. (they are stubborn)

So if Honda wants to stick with a 5 speed automatic, it needs cylinder shutoff so that the gearing can be shortened, without affecting mileage.
5th gear can be reduced from approximately 35mph / 1,000 rpm, to 30mph.
Whether Honda wants to finagle the gears separately, or just shorten the axle ratio (to affect all the gears), I leave that to Honda. (they would probably do both)

Troy S.

Excellent infoon the new 6 speed tranny's. Thank you!


More secure cargo storage than the Ridge's so-called trunk? Were you aware that that trunk is water proof, the size of a Civic's trunk and it's lockable? How is the Avalanche more secure?

Also, what is your in town MPG, and MSRP? Resale value?


As far as I know, Honda make their own tranny instead of outsourcing.


My 08 Silverado has 315 hp and the system that switches from eight to four cylinders. Average mpg has been about 20 and highway mpg is 23 to 25. With four on board and a load in the back we got 23.8 on one trip. With 3.23 gearing it turns 1400 rpm at 55 mph. There's no need to put down a GM product to make the Ridgeline look better. They're both good products.

Troy S.


I agree. GM makes good products. I've owned many throughout the years. The topic of this particular blog entry is however about the Ridgeline. No need to defend your brand against it.

I often wish my Ridge had a V-8 for more towing abilities and the like but, quickly find out that I never actually need more than it's V-6. 75% of the time I'm hauling nothing but air (like the majority of truck owners) and when I do use the truck for work, it's more than capable. The AWD system has helped at the boat ramp and inclement weathe too. 2WD would have struggled for sure!

I suppose there's a truck for every want, need and application. Just like there are many different products on the shelf at the grocery store.


I actually would have went with the Ridgeline because it does so many things well, but at the time we bought, GM was offering unbelievable discounts and a very good warranty, so I couldn't ignore the financial side. As you mentioned, there are many products on the shelf. Folks should look around with an open mind.


Why is everyone fussing about the mileage? It's about average for a midsize crew cab truck with V6 and AWD. Here's a class comparison:
Ridgeline: 15/20
Tacoma: 16/20
Dakota: 14/18
Colorada: 15/20
Frontier: 14/19
And considering the Ridgeline's 250 hp is more than all but the Frontier's, I don't think the Ridgeline is a bad deal.


I drive a top of the line Silverado whereas my Dad just bought the Ridgeline wannabe truck. If anyone says the Ridgeline does not ride better they are flat-out lying. It's one of the first things I noticed when I drove it last week. The interior is nice but it's the ride that you really noticed. I personally wouldn't buy one but I can see why certain folks like my Dad find it attractive.

Troy S.


That's what sold me on my Ridge. The ride quality. My family always chooses to take it on road trips. It is actually a very capable truck. Very stable while hauling or towing a load.

I had to ask myself this very imprtant question:

I plan to drive my truck daily. What is more important? Ride quality, HP, towing capacity or MPG? Ride quality won out.

The bonus was that the Ridge also handled my hauling and towing needs and it actually does better MPG than sticker. AWD, the trunk, and swing out tail gate were icing on the cake.

Don't get me wrong. When I need extra heavy duty towing, I'll borrow my Dad's Silverado. I just couldn't justify driving the extra heavy duty capability truck on a daily basis because I don't need it very often.


I just ordered a Ridgeline. They've got a deal in Canada right now where you get 5k off. They're trying to compete with the U.S. pricing as the truck is almost 10K cheaper even though the truck is built in Canada and the dollars are almost equal value presently. For me it came down to Chevy or Honda. I've always liked Chevy's I've had bad luck with Fords and Mopar's get terrible mileage and look cheap inside. If I was hauling drywall or lumber it would be the Chevy. But for the family and towing my 16 ft boat I got the 09 Ridgeline. The 09 has some minor but decent changes. Either way with Chev or Ridgeline, you're buying something built in North America.


I just ordered a Ridgeline. They've got a deal in Canada right now where you get 5k off. They're trying to compete with the U.S. pricing as the truck is almost 10K cheaper even though the truck is built in Canada and the dollars are almost equal value presently. For me it came down to Chevy or Honda. I've always liked Chevy's I've had bad luck with Fords and Mopar's get terrible mileage and look cheap inside. If I was hauling drywall or lumber it would be the Chevy. But for the family and towing my 16 ft boat I got the 09 Ridgeline. The 09 has some minor but decent changes. Either way with Chev or Ridgeline, you're buying something built in North America.


I traded my Chevy for a Ridgeline; it hasn't hurt my ego at all. I'm sorry, but this is the first non-american vehicle I've purchased and I see why domestics are losing market share. Bottom line: little details. My Chevy had too many little problems. Nothing like an engine or tranny going, but enough to start driving you crazy. Windows not working; sun visor hits mirror; mysterious noises; shuddering idle to name just a few. The Ridgeline, not a problem. Plus, don't even think Chevy trucks ride better. I've owned Chevys for 25 years. I'm not a construction worker or anything like that. I do, however, do my own work around the house. The Ridgeline is all that I need. Both are good, but for different purposes.


I leased an 06 RTL - lease is up in a few months and I'll lease another one, I won't buy one until they do something like a hybrid or cylinder displacement - but I have 50k miles on my current truck and it's been flawless. These are great all around vehicles, they get decent mileage, are good in the snow, easily tow my boat, and are great for kids' sports gear, trip to home depot, and comfortable for commuting. I've had Grand Cherokees and a Durango (before they turned it into a mini-van), and overall this is the first truck I've had that handles like a car but can do everything I need from a truck.


Yea have fun towing with your honda oddessy with a bed. I saw one of those go by today, had ONE box in the back, and it damn near looked like it would start kicking up sparks the ass end sunk so low. Not to mention, oh i dunno, It looks disgusting like an avalanch, alls they need to do is make it like the Element and add 50 pounds of unpainted grey plastic cladding to the side and it would be complete, barf....Get a REAL small truck like a Tacoma or Canyon, not some FWD baised honda oddessy van with a bed on it.....


I own a RL and have owned many full size trucks of all brands. In fact, I traded in a 2002 Avalanche to get my RL. I was glad to do so. I had more electrical problems with that POS than I've ever had from any other truck. And at 34,000 miles, it's left me sitting 3 times because of them. Not to mention GM having to replace all of the gaskets around the doors and the hard shell on the rear. I lost more equipment to water leaking in than I ever dreamed of losing. I now have 120,000 miles on my RL and still love it. It's a great "truck", no mater what others here believe. Unless you actually own one, you can't say that you would hate it. When I first test drove this truck, it felt stiff and I wasn't sure if I would like it. But it certainly didn't take me long to fall in love. I am holding out to get either one with a V
8 or a diesel when they both come out in a year or 2. But I have no reason to believe that my RL will still be running like new by then.


I bought my Ridgeline six years ago next month and now have nearly 104,000 miles on it. A few weeks ago the dreaded timing belt service reminder came on. I debated whether to spend the nearly $1700.00 for the full maintenance required, or just trade it in on a new one. I did the maintenance. In the six years I've had my truck, I've not had a single problem. It does everything I need to do from hauling mulch to pulling my pop-up camper - all while keeping my granddaughter safe in the back seat. In another five years, or whenever Honda stops making them - I fully intend to run out and buy a brand new Ridgeline.

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