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2017 Honda Ridgeline

The second-generation Honda Ridgeline ute has made its debut at the 2016 Detroit auto show sporting a much more conservative and traditional design than the original.

As with the original Ridgeline, the new model eschews the body-on-frame construction of its mid-size rivals in the States, using a unibody platform that seems to be shared largely with the latest-generation Pilot SUV.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Visually, at least, the two share their front doors, headlights, grille design, and dashboard architecture. Under the bonnet, both vehicles utilise a 3.5-litre direct-injection EarthDreams V6 petrol engine. Final output figures have yet to be confirmed for the Ridgeline, but engine in the Pilot develops 209kW of power and 353Nm of torque.

For the Ridgeline, this engine is mated solely to a six-speed automatic transmission; the Pilot’s nine-speed unit isn’t available as an option. The Ridgeline will be sold in both front- and all-wheel drive variants, with the latter featuring torque vectoring and a terrain management system with snow, mud, sand and normal modes.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

The new Ridgeline’s tray is said to be 1524mm (5 feet) wide and 1626mm (5 feet 4 inches) long, or around 137mm wider and 100mm longer than the original’s. Cargo capacity is provisionally rated at around 725kg; no towing figures have been supplied at this stage.

Where the new Ridgeline really hopes to win over buyers is with the design of its tray bed. There’s a “dual-action” tailgate that can be opened to the left side or flopped down, while a lockable In-Bed Trunk (below) is standard on all models.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Honda is also trying to appeal to those who love to host tailgate parties in parking lots outside of American football games. To that end, the new Ridgeline is available with a 540W in-bed audio system, which feature six exciters, rather than speakers, located within the wall of the tray bed.

Also available is a 400W power inverter than can recharge power tools, or power a tailgate blender or flat-screen TV.

Unlike its nominal rivals, the Ridgeline is available in just one body configuration, with no choice in the size of the passenger compartment or tray.

2017 Honda Ridgeline

Available safety equipment stretches to lane keeping assistance, road departure mitigation, automated emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring. A multi-angle rear view camera is standard.

The US-made and designed Honda Ridgeline will go on sale Stateside this year, and looks certain to be a North American exclusive.