Honda has successfully pulled off the classic switcheroo at the SEMA Auto Show, surprising everybody by unveiling the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck — an off-road racing truck that’s based off of the second generation Ridgeline pick-up. Why was this surprising, you ask? Well, Honda hasn’t released any images of the production Ridgeline, so we’re actually getting our first look at the new pickup, albeit in its off-road racing guise.

Built in conjunction with Honda Performance Development and the Proctor Racing Group, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck won’t make into any dealerships any time soon. It will instead be used in the SCORE Baja 1000 where Honda’s four-wheeled racing outfit will return for the first time since 2012 when it ran a tube-framed Pilot to a third place finish in the Class Six Trophy trucks.

Judging by the development and preparations put into the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck, Honda is really setting its sights on once again taking the Mexican peninsula by storm. The truck itself is ready for action, which bodes well for Honda Racing considering the short turn around between SEMA and the start of the famed Mexican race on November 20, 2015.

Meanwhile, the production version of the Honda Ridgeline is scheduled to be unveiled sometime in the “first half of 2016.” A quick glance at the auto show calendar in that time frame seems to suggest that the second-generation pickup will likely make its debut at the North American International Auto Show in January 2016. It would make sense considering that the original Ridgeline made its own debut in the same event.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck.

  • 2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    550
  • Displacement:
    3.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
- image 653975

Like most racing trucks, the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck was fitted with enhanced body panels to improve its aerodynamic characteristics. The usual bits and pieces associated with a race truck can also be found on the Ridgeline Baja. There’s the red-and-white body finish, the multitude of graphics and sponsor decals, horizontal light bars on the front grille and windshield, and the two spotlights attached to the two front doors. The truck also has heavy-duty off-road tires that will prove to be useful in the elements in Baja.

The truck also has heavy-duty off-road tires that will prove to be useful in the elements in Baja.

More important than the race-specific details on the body are the design cues that Honda says will be used on the production version of the truck. According to the company, the production Ridgeline will have a similar hood, roof, bed, and silhouette as the Baja version. Should that be the case, the production Ridgeline could feature an extended-cab that should make prospective customers happy. Up front, the Ridgeline’s headlight and grille configuration will also be similar to that found in the Pilot. Put all these hints together and you start developing a clear picture on what the next-generation Honda Ridgeline is going to look like when it makes its long-awaited debut in 2016.

Interior

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Interior
- image 653976

If you’re looking to find hints of what the Ridgeline’s interior is going to look like, you won’t find any on the Ridgeline Baja race truck. The cabin itself has been redesigned for racing purposes so don’t expect to see any of the creature comforts of the upcoming production model. What you’ll see instead is a stripped down interior with Sparco racing seats, a comprehensive navigation system, and enough roll bars to keep the cabin secure in case the truck goes sideways in the race. There is what appears to be an Alcantara-covered steering wheel so at least the Ridgeline Baja race truck has that going for it. Other than that, expect the production version of the truck to have a completely different look on the inside.

Drivetrain

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 653978

The Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck is powered by a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that produces in excess of 550 horsepower. The said engine is actually HPD’s own HR35TT race engine and it also uses the same block, cylinder heads, and crankshaft as the engine that will eventually be used on the production Ridgeline. Don’t expect the latter to be packing 550 ponies, though, because this particular powertrain has additional custom elements added into it — including an HPD-designed intake plenum and the tried-and-tested ECU remap that gives the power it needs to blast across the Baja desert.

In addition, the race-prepped Ridgeline also gets a tube-frame racing chassis, unlike the production model, which, in turn, is going to get a unibody model similar to the first-generation Ridgeline.

Conclusion

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
- image 653973

Like most people, I didn’t expect Honda to take this route when it came time to preview the second-generation Ridgeline. I thought it was going the predictable route of dropping teaser images and videos ahead of its highly anticipated arrival in 2016. That said, I think it was a brilliant idea to go with this kind of soft unveiling. Nobody saw it coming and the hints to the production model are subtle enough that it doesn’t give out the full details. That leaves room for us to speculate more on what the production Ridgeline is going to look like, right around the same time as the Baja-prepped version takes to the desert to compete in the off-road race.

  • Leave it
    • * Not the production model
    • * Stripped down interior
    • * Isn’t going on sale anytime soon

Press Release

Today at the 2015 SEMA Show, Honda revealed its Ridgeline Baja Race Truck, a purpose-built racing machine that marks Honda’s return to off-road truck racing, while also providing an early glimpse at the styling direction for the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup that will hit dealer showrooms in the first half of next year. The Honda exhibit also showcased a multifaceted display of personalized Honda cars, SUVs, powersports products and two- and four-wheeled racing machines.

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
- image 653973

The Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck, in red, white and black Honda Racing livery, will compete in this year’s running of the SCORE Baja 1000. The tube-frame unlimited class off-road truck is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 developed by Honda’s U.S. motorsports engineering arm, Honda Performance Development (HPD), and features a body designed by Honda R&D Americas’ Los Angeles Design Studio with inspiration taken from the next-generation Ridgeline truck, also being designed and developed by Honda R&D in North America. Key design cues drawn from the highly anticipated 2017 Honda Ridgeline can be seen in the front fascia, hood, roof, bed and side profile.

"We’re happy to share some of the high-level styling direction for Ridgeline and to celebrate this desert race truck that signals the return of HPD power to Baja," said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. "While this race truck is unique and different from the production Ridgeline, it does a nice job of expressing not only our styling direction but also the fact that the Ridgeline, for all its unique qualities, has been and will continue to be a pickup with true truck capability."

2016 Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck High Resolution Exterior
- image 653974

The Ridgeline Baja race truck is being developed by HPD in partnership with the Proctor Racing Group. It will be powered by HPD’s HR35TT race engine, a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 producing upwards of 550 horsepower and using the same block, cylinder heads and crankshaft as the production engine that will power the all-new Ridgeline. Additional custom elements of the powertrain include an HPD-designed intake plenum and custom engine ECU programming.

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