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Honda previews the next Ridgeline truck with a 550-hp Baja racer

Honda is putting the final touches on the second generation of the Ridgeline pickup truck. The production model is still a few short months away from making its official debut, but the Japanese car maker is whetting fans’ appetite at the SEMA show by displaying a heavily-modified version of the truck designed to hit the dunes.

Although it’s dressed in full red, white, and black rally regalia, the truck hints the next Ridgeline will fall in line with Honda’s latest Exciting H design language thanks to styling cues such as sharp headlights and a single-slat grille. It will again feature a tall front end and four doors, but that’s as far as the similarities between the new Ridgeline and the original model will go. Notably, the old model’s stylish — and blind spot-enhancing — flying buttresses have been tossed out and replaced with a more conventional, pickup-like vertical C-pillars.

The truck is designed to compete in the 840-mile long SCORE Baja 1000 race so it’s powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine that has been tuned by Honda’s Performance division to make over 550 horsepower. The production model will use a 3.5-liter V6 built with the same block, cylinder heads, and crankshaft, but its output will be reduced considerably to approximately 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque.

The Ridgeline will share many of its mechanical components with the new-for-2016 Pilot crossover, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that buyers will be asked to choose between a six-speed automatic transmission and a fuel-saving nine-speed automatic gearbox. All-wheel drive will come standard on all trim levels.

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The all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline will be presented to the public either at the Detroit Motor Show that will open its doors next January, or next April at the New York Motor Show. In the meantime, the performance-focused truck currently displayed at the Honda booth in Sin City will line up at the starting line of the Baja 1000 in Ensenada, Mexico, on November 20th.