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Honda Rugged Open-Air Vehicle Concept: SEMA Show

What Is It?

Basically, the Honda Rugged Open-Air Vehicle Concept is the love child of a Ridgeline pickup and a Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side ATV. Blending the Ridgeline’s utility with the off-road prowess of the Pioneer 1000, it’s the ultimate go-anywhere buggy. Think of it as an ATV on steroids.

Honda was short on specifics as it unveiled this concept at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. For example, what powers this thing? We suspect, almost as much as we hope, that the powertrain comes from the 2019 Honda Ridgeline with its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and 6-speed automatic transmission, but, that may be more of a dream than reality.

What we do know for sure is the concept sources its highly modified front body pieces from the Ridgeline, as well as its suspension. Providing the doors, the Pioneer is also the model for the custom bed and tailgate. There are plenty of skid plates and body cladding, too.

Much of the front shell of the interior is pure Ridgline: the instrument panel, footwells and so forth. Reskinned in waterproof Pioneer 1000 material, the seats are a donation from the Civic Type R.

Will They Ever Sell It?

Don’t hold your breath. Honda calls the Rugged concept a "thought exercise" in what the ultimate Honda off-road vehicle could look like. We think it’s just that, as the SEMA Show attracts a lot of one-offs. While Honda isn’t quite as stiff as it used to be at the corporate level, a major overhaul of Honda’s culture would be necessary for this concept to eventually wind up on the showroom floor next to an Accord.

Why Is It Important?

We think any concept stretching a carmaker’s boundaries is useful. Because of the Rugged Open-Air Vehicle Concept, there may well be a few Honda suits contemplating a more capable off-road vehicle — at least we hope that’s the case.

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