Like Louis Vuitton boxing gloves, the 2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport presents a stylish but brutish stance. In black, it looks like a street cruiser that would make any rapper proud, although chrome 22s would help. Buttresses from cab to bed walls give it a sleek side view. A straight up grille and a raised hood give the front bulldog style, while fender flares and big space in the wheel wells emphasize utility.
This truck also offers some surprising practicality, innovative engineering similar to the Magic Seat in the Honda Fit. The tailgate of the Ridgeline Sport opens in the traditional manner, down, but can also swing out. Smuggler compartments are buried under the bed floor, and this truck only comes as a crew cab, with a full four doors.
Honda connoisseurs will find the cabin design surprising, as big, bulky dials serve for temperature, fan, and volume control. A column shifter also seems out of place in a Honda, but the elimination of a long console frees up some space on the floor. Many convenient compartments hold odds and ends in the dashboard.
Tech? What tech?
As this is a CNET review, let's tackle the elephant in the room, or, more appropriately, lack thereof. The 2012 Ridgeline Sport's cabin electronics are about 20 years old. Green and black monochrome displays show the current radio station and air conditioning setting.
The head unit includes a single CD slot, and an auxiliary input comes standard. The most advanced feature of the Ridgeline Sport is that the stereo can play MP3 CDs. The volume and channel controls on the steering wheel are nice, but almost seem excessive with the limited audio sources. Music plays through a 100-watt, six-speaker system. The sound quality here is not terrible, just average. Bass is not very strong, although the highs are a little more distinct. The sound quickly distorts with the volume up high.
Honda offers neither navigation nor a Bluetooth phone system with the Ridgeline Sport, although these conveniences are included with the top-trim Ridgeline RTL, which goes for about $40,000. Driver assistance systems are also lacking, including a rear-view camera, which would be very useful for this truck.