Monday, December 16, 2013

Ridgeline Redesign: Is Honda Getting Serious About Trucks?


    Rumors of the Honda Ridgeline’s demise apparently were exaggerated.
    The Ridgeline, a crossover pickup truck that Honda rolled out a decade ago, has never been a great seller despite a number of features the make it more practical for many drivers than a traditional pickup.
    For the last few years industry insiders have speculated Honda would scrap the model, which the company expected to revolutionize the pickup market and draw what was thought to be a huge group of potential customers who wanted a vehicle roughly halfway between a family sedan and a truck.
    Those swarms of shoppers never arrived, and critics said the truck was too odd-looking to have truly wide appeal. Now Honda is giving the Ridgeline a second chance by redesigning it, and the new version looks more like a “normal” pickup.
    Honda released a sketch of the coming redesign, which has a profile that resembles the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra and other pickups that have been on the market longer. Honda has not revealed details about the vehicle’s exact layout and whether it will retain some of its best features, including a trunk underneath the cargo bed, a smooth, car-like ride and better fuel economy than many other trucks.
    The company did say it expects the next-generation Ridgeline to “play an even more important role in our future product portfolio.”
    Honda said it will end production of the current Ridgeline at its Lincoln, Ala., plant in the middle of next year and plans to roll out the new model in “less than two years.”