After the unveiling of a desert racing version of the Ridgeline during the SEMA show in November, Honda formally presented the 2017 production model to the world at this week’s North American Auto Show in Detroit.
As the new truck spun atop a turntable, John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. Inc., used the words “cool, tough (and) athletic” to describe the new Ridgeline.
“This is a real truck – a truck that uses its unibody construction … to deliver more of the things (customers) want in a truck,” Mendel said.
As promised, the new Ridgeline definitely looks more like a real truck, ditching the boxy, crossover-with-a-bed look of the original for a sleek and sporty, Euro-style design. One thing that hasn’t changed about the truck is the unibody design.
“The majority of truck buyers spend the vast majority of their time on the road,” Mendel said, “where body on frame construction is nothing but punishment.”
A nice upgrade from previous models of the truck is the new, larger bed. The 2017 Ridgeline’s bed is 5 feet wide and 5 feet 4 inches long – giving it the only 5-foot bed in the segment. Honda says the improved bed is perfect for hauling “plywood sheeting or drywall.”
Payload capacity will approach 1,600 pounds. With that bigger bed, Honda retained and improved on two of the Ridgeline’s exclusive legacy features: the dual action tailgate, hinged at the bottom and left side, and the lockable in-bed trunk, now with a flat floor.
The bed also features eight 350-pound tie down cleats and an available 400-watt power inverter. But that’s not all. Honda got creative with the finishing touch on this new bed, integrating the first in-bed audio system.
“You can’t see it,” Mendel said, “and there are no speakers to get bashed and scraped when you’re hauling mulch, but you can hear it.” Mendel fired up the sound system up with his iPhone.
According to Honda, the in-bed audio system “utilizes six exciters located inside the bed walls, in place of conventional speakers, pumping out sound from the Ridgeline’s audio head unit, with up to 540 watts of power.”
The 2017 Ridgeline will be powered by Honda’s 3.5-liter i-VTEC V6, the same engine that powers the Pilot SUV. The engine will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. For reference, that V6 provides 280 horsepower and 262 ft.-lbs. of torque in the Pilot.
Power ratings for the Ridgeline will be released at a later date, but for now Honda says it expects the truck will offer the best acceleration and highest fuel economy in the midsize segment.
Unlike the original Ridgeline, the 2017 model will be offered in both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive. The Ridgeline will be available with Honda’s i-VTM4 AWD tech with sand, snow and mud settings.
As Mendel presented the new truck, it became clear that Honda will market the new Ridgeline primarily as a “truck for the rest of us.” As such, comfort will be a big focus and Honda says the new truck will offer the most cabin space in its segment, along with a split-folding rear seat and under seat storage that give it “the most versatile packaging in the segment.”