This month's New England Motor Press Association meeting featured a presentation by Honda R&D Americas Chief Engineer Gary Flint on the company's first pickup truck, the Ridgeline. Aimed at the U.S. recreation market, as opposed to the "work" market, the pickup was designed by the company's Ohio development team.
The engineers took a clean sheet approach to the vehicle, and came up with a unibody design for strength and a quiet ride--compared to what Flint terms the traditional "three box" approach (engine, cab, and bed) supported on a frame. He notes these three components would move relative to each other, reducing strength and stiffness, and increasing noise.
The unibody approach produced a body that is 2.5 times stiffer in bending and 20 times stiffer in torsion, compared to the best body-on-frame compact truck, says Flint. Other details include sideview mirrors with vortex generators to help kill wind noise.
Storage is another key feature, and the team produced a bed that could carry recreational vehicles (Honda four-wheelers and trailbikes, of course) and other family equipment (including the company's generators). Under the bed is a storage box, which Flint notes can be filled with ice for tailgate parties. The tailgate is able to open both as a ramp and as a door. In the cab, the rear seat flips up to provide more storage space and there is a compartment below the seat as well.
The Ridgeline is available in March and is priced just under $28k to over $32k. EPA numbers are 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. All in all, an interesting truck I'm looking forward to driving when a press vehicle comes available.