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Buying Used: Honda Ridgeline is a steady performer

Not much has changed since the Ridgeline hit the market in 2005.

In 2010, it was propelled by a transversely mounted 3.5-litre V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with a full-time all-wheel-drive system. Horsepower and torque have gone up and down over the years, but, this year, it was 250 hp and 247 lb-ft. Fuel economy remained about the same: 14.1 litres/100 km in town and 9.8 on the highway.

The Ridgeline has never laid claim to being the most powerful pickup out there and has never had a V-8 option, but, like most Honda products, it featured an extremely refined and willing engine that was – and is – more than enough to handle what most drivers will throw at it. The all-wheel-drive system has always featured a front-drive bias, with the rear wheels coming into play when the front ones start to slip.

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Nor has it ever been billed as a working truck. It will accommodate small loads, however, and Honda claims it will handle a couple of bicycles, a pair of dirt bikes, an ATV or a full-size motorcycle. For the big stuff, you could also order bed extenders and loading ramps.

A two-way rear tailgate swings open to the left or folds down, and a locking storage compartment located under the rear deck holds a surprising amount of gear. Inside, the rear seats can be folded out of the way to provide storage room behind the front seats. Honda says that the interior of the Ridgeline has about the same amount of volume as an Accord. Certainly, this was as comfortable a truck as you'd find, and little touches – a steering-column-mounted shift lever and capacious centre storage bin – made everything that much more civilized.

There aren't a lot of differences between the 2010 and 2011 models. Nor between 2009 and 2010, for that matter. All three vintages were offered in four versions: DX, VP, EX-L and EX-L Navi. The latter two models came with all the goodies, such as power sunroof, a security system, leather interior, power front seats and larger 18-inch wheels and tires, but all versions have always come well-equipped. A power sliding rear window was standard issue, as was tilt (but not telescoping) steering, eight tie-down cleats and steering-wheel-mounted cruise control. The EX-L Navi came with a back-up camera, but this was rendered useless while backing up with the rear gate folded down.

No safety recalls, either from Transport Canada or the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA, however, does have 10 complaints from owners on file. A sampling: "all of a sudden, to my surprise and without an opportunity to react, the truck accelerated greatly, propelling itself over a five-inch curb, past two feet of space, and through the wall of a building," "my 75-year-old father had to hold the door closed for nearly 100 miles as he drove to his residence" and, "while parked on driveway with the front of the vehicle facing west at approximately 6 p.m., the rear passenger window exploded."

Consumer Reports really likes this one and gives it a "good bet" designation. With the exception of minor "paint and trim" issues, it gets top marks in just about every category. Says C.R.: "While not designed for serious off-roading, it proved capable in most applications." Some comments from owners: "Like a Subaru on steroids," "no quality issues other than declining fuel economy" and "amazingly flexible."

Market research firm J.D. Power gives this iteration of the Ridgeline "better than most" grades for overall dependability and predicted reliability. Power also notes that it is its highest-ranked truck for quality, performance and design. Owners like its versatile storage/cargo-carrying features, but have misgivings about the Ridgeline's lack of power and worse-than-advertised fuel economy.

From a starting price of less than $35,000 in 2010, the Ridgeline has held up remarkably well. You'll be lucky to get one of these three-year-old trucks for less than $25,000 – depending upon the trim level, of course. The top of the range EX-L versions are fetching $4,000-$5,000 more than the base DX.

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Tech specs

2010 Honda Ridgeline

Original Base Price: $34,990; Black Book: $24,025-$28,875; Red Book: $22,350-$26,125

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 250 hp/247 lb-ft

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Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 14.1 city/9.8 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra

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