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Making the Worst-Selling Truck Better

2017 Ridgeline speculations and the optional accessories you care about.

By Aaron Bonk
Photos courtesy of American Honda

You already know about the completely redesigned, 2017 Ridgeline thanks to last month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Today, though, Honda announced its full line of Honda Genuine Accessories aimed right at the forthcoming unibody truck, which the company’s set to debut starting this week at the Chicago Auto Show.

According to Honda, Ridgeline shoppers can expect roof rails and cross bars, both in black, die-cast running boards, fender flares all around, also in black, a hard tonneau cover, and 18-inch wheels in what Honda calls a black-glint finish with all-terrain rubber. There’s also an available towing kit should you feel the urge to strap on something within the realm of what we assume will be an estimated 5,000-lb towing capacity.

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It's a good look, the 2017 Ridgeline is fitted with its optional Genuine Honda Accessories. With taller tires and a bit more ground clearance, next year's Ridgeline just might have the goods to go against heavy hitters like the Tacoma and Colorado.

Stop comparing Honda’s Ridgeline with anything wearing an F-Series or Silverado badge and, all of a sudden, you’ve got yourself a decent sled. So long as you don’t plan on towing a whole lot. Or hauling all that much. Sure, Ford sold a good 750,000 F150s in 2014 compared to only 13,389 Ridgelines, but nobody ever said the Ridgeline was supposed to take on the F150. It is, however, aimed squarely at smaller pickups like Chevy’s Colorado and Toyota’s Tacoma, the latter of which sold to the tune of more than 155,000 units that same year. Clearly the Ridgeline’s got its work cut out for it.

That the Ridgeline will share its chassis with the unibody Pilot is likely its only strike against it. But it’s a pretty massive one. A unibody frame means towing capacities are automatically limited, but it also means that ride quality and handling just got a whole lot better because of its independent suspension all around. Try doing that with your body-on-frame truck.

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Aesthetically, the second-generation Ridgeline's got a whole lot going for it even without any of Honda's soon-to-be available accessories. And with an estimated 5,000-lb towing capacity, that's more than enough to schlep your Civic around with.

Compare all of this to the Tacoma, for example, and things start to not look so bad. Toyota’s 2016 model can manage a 1,175-lb payload; the Ridgeline—if it’s fitted with the Pilot’s direct-injected, 280hp, 3.5L V6 and optional AWD layout that we think it will be—will likely match or exceed the Pilot’s 5,000-lb towing capacity and be able to haul, what Honda says, will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 lbs—a class-leading number among the small-truck segment. Combine that with the widest flat-bed space in its class, measuring 48 inches in between its wheel wells and a figure typically reserved for pickups of the full-size variety, and all of a sudden you’ve got room for a whole lot of drywall.

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It only makes sense that the latest Ridgeline will most likely make use of the Pilot's 280hp V6 and available i-VTM4 AWD layout. A FWD model will be available, too, if you don't care about payloads and towing capacities.

Forget about the first-generation Ridgeline and the 2017 model begins to sound like a winner. Nobody’s expecting it to knock Toyota’s third-gen Tacoma off its block, but anything upward of 13,389 units shouldn’t be too hard if our speculating proves right.

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Aaron Bonk
Editor at VTEC Academy

Aaron Bonk first took an interest in Honda performance in the early 1990s. After studying mechanical engineering, he established Holeshot Racing—one of the first tuning shops to specialize in Honda engine swaps. There Aaron developed many Honda-specific engine transplants, long before engine mount kits and aftermarket wiring harnesses were realities. After more than a decade of development and professionally swapping Honda engines, he later transitioned into a career as an automotive journalist—authoring three Honda technical books—and has since held staff positions and contributed regularly to nearly a dozen print and online publications. To be sure, there’s no author who’s penned more words about the Honda brand. Aaron is the Editor and co-founder of VTEC Academy and resides in Southern California.