With clever features like a sliding center console, an in-bed trunk and a tailgate that folds down or swings open, Honda’s four -door, five passenger Ridgeline brings a whole new meaning to the word functionality. A Sport model is new for 2012.

The Ridgeline, a unique-looking truck with angling bed walls and no space between the cab and the bed, also gets slightly better highway mileage this year.

The truck is also built on unit-body architecture rather than the body-on-frame construction of most trucks. The advantage is the Ridgeline’s cabin feels very large for a midsize pickup truck.

Vital statistics on the truck include a 5-foot-long cargo bed with a payload rating of 1,100 pounds and a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds. The cargo area measures 49.5 inches wide between the wheel wells. With the load-supporting tailgate in the down position, the bed length increases from 60 to 79 inches.

The Ridgeline is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that kicks out 250 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 247 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,300 rpm. The standard transmission in the 4WD Ridgeline is a 5-speed automatic with Grade Logic Control to help maintain the most appropriate gear when going uphill or downhill. The truck will operate mostly in front wheel drive in dry cruising conditions, but will continuously send traction to the rear wheels during acceleration and low traction conditions.

For my money, the Ridgeline shines brightest when it comes to function. The 8.5 cubic foot in-bed trunk located at the rear of the bed is a great feature for keeping tools and other valuables out of sight. In addition to lowering normally, the dual-action tailgate also can swing open from left to right, making the in-bed trunk even more accessible.

The functionality continues inside with the Ridgeline’s sliding center console and lots of storage compartments to keep all your stuff organized and handy. The top of the console slides fore and aft for comfortable arm rests, and the bottom tray slides way forward, exposing access to hidden trays and compartments. There are also trays and other storage in the dash in front of the passenger.

In back, the 60/40 bench has storage below the seats. Honda says the storage area, which we found easily accessed, is large enough for a set of golf clubs. With both seats lifted up, a larger rear interior cargo space is revealed. A mountain bike with the front tire removed will fit this space, according to Honda.

The new-for-2012 Sport model brings black 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a black honeycomb grille with a black surround, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, fog lights, rear privacy glass, all-weather floor mats, and black headlight and taillight housings.

All models come with a full complement of airbags, including two-row side curtains. The truck gets an estimated 15 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, which is one mpg better than the 2011 model.

The Ridgeline base RT trim starts at $29,250, and prices go all the way up to the top of the line RTL with navigation at $37,180. The new Sport truck we tested stickered at $29,995.

We think the Ridgeline is a very good truck that can perform light to medium duty truck chores with unsurpassed function and unique style.

2012 Honda Ridgeline Sport Statistics

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Horsepower: 250

Test model base price: $29,995

EPA mileage rating: 15 mpg city / 21 mpg highway