The Ridgeline is the first pickup to offer what amounts to a sizable, lockable, weather-sealed trunk in the rear of the bed. The in-bed storage area has a floor drain that allows it to be filled with ice and beverages for any number of tailgating opportunities. Another interesting detail is the dual-action tailgate that operates as a conventional drop-down gate or a swing-open door, also used currently on the GMC Envoy XUV. However, unlike the XUV, the Ridgeline doesn't offer any type of midgate or rear-bulkhead pass-through.

We ran the Ridgeline against the Ford F-150 5.4-liter V-8, each with a 5000-pound trailer in tow. Through the course, the race was tight, and the Honda barked at the Ford's heels the entire time. The Ford definitely felt stronger off the line, but the competition was close, and, with a heavy-duty cooling package, the Ridgeline never lost its cool.

It's not likely Honda will convince full-size pickup owners to trade in big trucks for a Ridgeline, but would-be four-door Tacoma, Dakota, Frontier, and Colorado buyers might want to take a closer look. The Ridgeline could prove to be the right vehicle for minivan moms and dads looking to bulk up their image. Of course, it doesn't hurt that if Honda gets even a small fraction of midsize car and minivan buyers to look at the new Ridgeline, the company will double its projected 60,000-unit yearly sales. Look for a more thorough road test when we get a Ridgeline in-house.