ROAD TEST: HONDA RIDGELINE RTS

Honda's new Ridgeline five-seat pickup is so big and bold-looking you'd think it was made in America. This truck wears an Erector-set-like boxy frame and a menacing, aggressive front end. Pretty, it's not. Practical, it certainly is. Need to haul 1,500 pounds of cargo? No problem. Want to tow something weighing 5,000 pounds? Sure. Its 3.5-liter, VTEC V-6, 255-horsepower engine is up to the job, and the four-wheel-drive traction works well. It also sports a tighter chassis than some other trucks in its price range, making it a stellar road handler. I felt completely safe plodding through L.A.'s rain-soaked streets during a recent storm; there wasn't a slip from the 17-inch wheels.

The Ridgeline's retro industrial-design interior is more attractive than the busy exterior. Oversize aluminum-trimmed door handles and gauge rims, and a soft-rubber steering wheel play to the Tonka-tough image. The commodious back seat, with ample storage space underneath, can fit three burly fellows. And the rear bench folds flat against the back wall to make way for hauling bicycles (provided you remove the front wheels first). I also like the little luxuries like the standard electric side and rear windows. But here's something everyone will love: two 12-volt power outlets placed front and center on the dashboard. Still, I noticed one oversight: that all-important visor vanity mirror. Then again, maybe not everyone wants to check her lipstick while hauling 1,500 pounds of drywall.

Tip: Get the RTL with leather trim and optional moon roof for $1,415 more.

ROAD TEST: HONDA RIDGELINE RTS | News