2017 Honda Ridgeline Teased in Chicago
Modern Shape More Conventional than Predecessor
Being a trail-blazing pioneer can be risky business. If the risk pays off, the rewards can be huge, but if the idea is too far ahead of its time, it can often fall short of hopes and expectations. Such was the case with the first-generation Honda Ridgeline. On paper, it was an innovative mashup of car and truck engineering. Dimensionally, it was close to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier but could not be more different from an engineering standpoint. Since its launch, sales have been modest and within the last few years have dropped off to only about 1,200 a month. However, Honda has not given up on the idea of the Ridgeline. The company showed a teaser sketch of the forthcoming 2017 Ridgeline at the Chicago Auto Show, and just a glance shows some significant differences from the outgoing model.
The profile is much more traditional than the current Ridgeline’s sloping bedsides, and the sketch seems to suggest a separate bed, although this is not definitive. Also somewhat mysterious is a vertical line bisecting the tailgate, suggesting Honda may be toying with the idea of a “Dutch Door” two-piece swing-out tailgate. Gone is the ribbed lower door sheetmetal, with the new model instead showing a pronounced creased beltline running from the front fender to the tailgate.
The 2017 Ridgeline is expected to share a great deal of its mechanicals with the Acura MDX and just-unveiled Honda Pilot. It’s probably a safe assumption that the 3.5L Earth Dreams direct-injected V-6 will be the engine, backed be either a six- or nine-speed automatic transmission. Assuming the nine-speed has the strength to handle truck-like loads, expect it to be the equipped transmission, as one of the current Ridgeline’s most glaring shortcomings is its poor fuel economy. Expect the production Ridgeline to be shown either at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show or the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.