If my infamous "What Honda Should Do To Be Taken More Seriously" post revealed anything, it's that people don't take the Honda Ridgeline very seriously. People tend to observe the Ridgeline's rear bed and assume it's a pickup truck. Sure it may resemble a pickup truck, but then people compare it to the Ram, F150, and all the other utilitarian pickup trucks. That's not fair, because the Ridgeline isn't a pickup truck.
To prove its worth, the Ridgeline successfully competes in the Baja 1000. This is old, old news, but it's unfortunately something not many people know. This article on FourWheeler Network underscores the Ridgeline Trophy Truck as a tuning project commissioned by Honda and undertaken by two men.
Honda Motor Company has nothing to prove in the desert-at least on two wheels. In the last decade alone, factory-backed Honda motorcycle teams have notched nine straight wins in the Baja 1000. It would be hard to count just how many other off-road races have been won by riders astride Hondas, whether factory-backed or privateer.
Yet in 2005, Honda had a different desert-race goal in its sights. Faced with a mixed reception to its all-new Honda Ridgeline pickup, Honda decided to prove its truck's mettle by entering one in the grueling Baja race. Many truck makers over the years have traded on the cachet that comes with south-of-the-border desert competition, and Honda no doubt figured the Honda Ridgeline could get a nice boost by surviving one of the toughest challenges in all of motorsports.
Rather than start a truck-race program from scratch, Honda sought partners with experience in the desert, especially in the area of turning production vehicles into competition-ready machines. Clive Skilton and his son, Gavin, seemed perfectly tailored for the job. Originally with Don-A-Vee Motorsports (which has since become California Race and Rally, or CaRR), the Skiltons have spent some 15 years prepping and racing unibody Jeeps, and Clive now heads the JeepSpeed racing series. Another of Skilton's sons, Darren, successfully transformed Kia SUVs into desert race trucks that weren't just competitive; they notched an impressive series of wins.
Honda has plenty experience with desert off-roading, as is seen in their dirt bikes and ATVs. Beyond that, they have the Ridgeline: a desert truck. To compare this truck to the likes of a Ford F150 or Dodge Ram 1500 would be incorrect as they're not even in the same class. Sure, the Ridgeline has a bed in the rear, but a utilitarian pickup truck it does not make.
The truck's relatively light-weight construction makes it ideal for desert bashing.
Every Ridgeline I've seen in a Honda showroom sports either a couple of dirt bikes or an ATV. In advertisements, they don't show the truck to be a "take-to-lowes-and-transport-lumber-to-your-sweaty-man-job" truck. It's shown either on the road, toting desert toys, or in the desert itself. It's never shown doing typical pickup truck work.
It's not built like a Ram or a Ford F150 or the likes, so it can't be compared to them. What can you compare it to? Nissan Xterra, for starters.
Don't let the bed fool you, the Ridgeline is an SUV.
Now here are some photos of the Baja Ridgeline.