• Second-generation Ridgeline due out in less than two years
  • Design sketch reveals new truck's styling direction
  • Current Ridgeline to end production in 2014; Honda will skip 2015 model year

Honda intends to stay in the compact-pickup-truck market with a second-generation Ridgeline, due out in less than two years. The automaker recently revealed a sketch expressing the truck's new creative direction, which is being led by Honda's U.S.-based design studios in Los Angeles and Ohio. The current Ridgeline will cease production in the upcoming year, and Honda will skip the 2015 model year before introducing the 2016 Honda Ridgeline as an all-new version.

From what can be seen in the artwork, which is mostly shrouded by darkness, the 2016 Honda Ridgeline appears to have a longer roofline, a more rounded front end and a steeper windshield rake. But the overall shape seems to have remained intact, most likely to keep fans of the current Ridgeline interested.

When the Ridgeline first burst onto the scene back in 2005, it was noticed for its hunkered stance, unique proportions and ground-breaking lines. It was also admired for characteristics such as a 5-passenger cabin, carlike ride and handling, and a rugged half-ton rating, which is adequate for light towing and hauling but falls way short of the full-size workhorses from Ford, Chevy or Toyota. Still, the Ridgeline has a lot to offer, all the way down to such innovative features as a bed-integrated trunk and a 2-way opening tailgate. In fact, the Ridgeline was so well-received when it came out that it was named 2006 North American Truck of the Year. Though it was never a huge seller, the Ridgeline has enjoyed a definitive following.

Now, almost a decade after the original hit showrooms, Honda has announced plans to carry on the Ridgeline with a new version from the ground up. "The next generation Ridgeline will build on Honda's role in creating new value with a new take on advancing form and function in the truck segment," said Michael Accavitti, senior vice president of automobile operations for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "With a clear path forward, Ridgeline will play an even more important role in our future product portfolio and strengthen an already class-leading lineup of light trucks."

Like the current-gen model, the 2016 Honda Ridgeline is expected to be built on a closed-box unibody platform, delivering a smooth on-road performance with plenty of off-road capability. But there is the question of whether it will continue to share underpinnings with the Honda Odyssey and therefore fall short in the towing/hauling department. The current minivan-based Ridgeline is motivated by a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 managed by a 5-speed automatic transmission. Technical details for the 2016 Ridgeline have not been released.

Other competitive small-to-midsize pickup trucks include the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon.

What it means to you: If you're looking for a small but ruggedly good-looking pickup that has 5-passenger space and plenty of capability, look no further. Now the only question is, do you want to wait two years for the all-new 2016 model? If you're not that patient, Honda has introduced a new uplevel 2014 Special Edition Ridgeline to close out production. The Ridgeline SE is defined by 18-inch black spoke wheels, a black honeycombed grille, a black tailgate and other black trim accents from front to back. This loaded and menacing Ridgeline has a base price of just over $38,000.

author photo

Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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