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Honda’s 2017 Ridgeline is a more civilized pickup truck

You could say the outgoing-generation Honda Ridgeline is the crossover of pickup trucks. Like crossover SUVs, it sought to combine utility and a rugged image with the road manners of a car. After over a decade in showrooms, the first-generation Ridgeline has earned its retirement, and Honda is adopting a similar philosophy with the second-generation model.

Unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline may look a bit more like a traditional pickup truck, but it’s just as focused on car-like character as its predecessor. Will that appeal to buyers in a booming midsize truck segment that now includes the redesigned Toyota Tacoma, and the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon twins?

With its rounded edges and bodywork that enveloped the bed, the original Ridgeline was a bit of an oddball. Honda went with a more conventional design for the new model, with more chiseled bodywork and a more angular silhouette. The front fascia, meanwhile, looks like it was ripped straight off Honda’s Pilot crossover. Under the skin, the Ridgeline features unibody construction just like a crossover, but unlike virtually any other pickup.

The Ridgeline will only be offered with one powertrain, consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. It will be the only pickup sold in the U.S. with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive will be optional. Honda equipped the Ridgeline with a i-VTM4 torque-vectoring system similar to the one offered on the Pilot, and Intelligent Terrain Management with Normal, Sand, Snow, and Mud modes. These systems probably won’t allow for the hardcore off-roading some other trucks are capable of, but they’ll probably make the Ridgeline nicer to drive where people spend most of their time: on pavement.

Also geared toward making on-road cruising more appealing is an available Display Audio system with 8.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Ridgeline will also be offered with a host of driver assists, including Honda’s LaneWatch system, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, automated braking, and “road departure mitigation.”

The Ridgeline’s bed is also more than just a box for hauling plywood. Like the previous Ridgeline, it features a lockable in-bed trunk, but now there’s also an in-bed audio system with six “exciters” in place of conventional speakers, to provide a soundtrack to tailgate parties. As before, the Ridgeline will likely be offered only with a four-door cab and one bed length, in this case five feet, four inches in length.

The 2017 Honda Ridgeline goes on sale later this year. Pricing and additional details will be released closer to the on-sale date.

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