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2014 Honda Ridgeline SE: A truck you can live with every day

by: HONDA AMERICA MOTOR CORP. - This the last year for the current Honda Ridgeline, so check it out while you can.Honda made no changes to its 2014 Ridgeline midsize pickup, except for adding a new top-of-the-line SE trim level that includes all options and unique 18-inch wheels. That's the only change because Honda is reportedly going to redesign the Ridgeline next year to make it more competitive against newer trucks. One modification will supposedly be the elimination of the sweptback roof line that makes the Ridgeline look like a smaller version of the former Chevy Avalanche pickup.

Personally, I'd be happy if that was the only change Honda made. The Ridgeline is already one of the easiest pickups to live with on the market. It is not a heavy-duty truck built construction work, pulling massive loads or serious off-road use. Instead, it is more of an urban hauler, which is what most pickup buyers really need.

The Ridgeline is also one of the easiest pickups to buy. It only comes in one style — a four-door with a five-foot bed, a 3.5-liter V6, a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive with a locking center differential. It's a good, practical package that meets most needs, even if some other pickups can be configured for more power, better mileage, or wilderness trips.

Although not the largest available pickup, the Ridgeline has a lot of room for passengers, both in the front and back. The interior is well designed, with knobs and buttons that can be operated with gloves, and lots of built-in storage spaces. The dash and console is mostly hard plastic, which is practical for families with messy kids (or messy adults).

On the road, the Ridgeline has a very carlike ride, thanks to its independent suspensions. That makes it easy to maneauver around town and comfortable on long trips. With 250 horsepower on tap, the V6 is a bit underpowered, but it will get up to speed when needed, although the engine is a little noisy under hard acceleration.

Who knows, maybe the next generation Ridgeline will have the same pluses but have more power, get better mileage, be able to carry more and be more off-road ready. Buyers shouldn't feel the need to wait if they are in the market for a well-balance truck for everyday use, however. The 2014 Ridgeline still fits that bill.

Facts and figures (all models)

• Model tested: 2014 Ridgeline SE.

• Manufacturer: Honda.

• Class: Midsize pickup.

• Layout: Front engine, all-wheel-drive.

• Style: Four-door SUV.

• Engines: 3.5-liter V6 (250 hp, 247 lbs-ft).

• Transmissions: Five-speed automatic.

• EPA estimated city/highway/mileage: 15/21/17.

• Price: Beginning at approximately $29,000 ($38,335 as tested).