Paul Sancya  /  AP file
The Ridgeline, which went on sale in the spring, is Honda’s first entry in the pickup market.
updated 12/20/2005 10:43:18 AM ET 2005-12-20T15:43:18

The Honda Ridgeline was named the 2006 truck of the year by Motor Trend magazine, an award that could help boost the pickup’s lackluster sales.

It’s the second time this year a Honda vehicle has won the magazine’s top award. Motor Trend last month named the newly redesigned 2006 Honda Civic its car of the year. The 2006 Nissan Xterra was the publication’s sport utility vehicle of the year. The designation is important to automakers, who often use Motor Trend’s endorsement in their advertising.

This is also the second straight year a Japanese maker has won Motor Trend’s truck of the year. Last year’s winner was the 2005 Toyota Tacoma.

The Ridgeline, which went on sale in the spring, is Honda’s first entry in the pickup market. Motor Trend said innovative features set it apart from other trucks in its class, including an 8.5-cubic-foot trunk under the pickup’s bed, four cargo lamps that illuminate the bed and a rear gate that opens like a door or swings down.

“The Ridgeline showcases a vehicle built on intelligent technology and impressive durability,” Angus MacKenzie, editor of Motor Trend, said in a news release.

Finalists for the truck of the year were four large trucks — the Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Ram Mega Cab, Lincoln Mark LT and the Ridgeline — and two compact trucks, the Isuzu i350 and the Mitsubishi Raider. Only new or substantially redesigned trucks were considered, and all had to be on sale to the public by Jan. 1, 2006.

The Ridgeline was the unanimous pick of Motor Trend’s editors after thousands of miles of testing in a variety of weather. Motor Trend evaluates the vehicle’s finish and materials, engineering, handling and response, safety and power.

Motor Trend also takes into account the truck’s value for its price. The Ridgeline starts at $27,700, according to Edmunds.com, an online vehicle research site. By comparison, the Isuzu i350 starts at $16,989, the Dodge Ram 1500 starts at $20,090, and the Lincoln Mark LT starts at $38,680.

Despite the accolades, the Ridgeline may not meet Honda’s sales targets this year. Dick Colliver, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., said in January that Honda expected to sell 50,000 Ridgelines this year. As of the end of November, Honda had sold 36,000.

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