It may not be immediately apparent, but the Honda Open Air Vehicle Concept is actually a Ridgeline-based study that looks like an oversized buggy. Honda doesn’t intend to put it into production, but it does want us to picture ourselves ripping across sand dunes in one of these, and we’re more than happy to oblige because it’s actually a pretty awesome idea.

Exterior

2018 Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept
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Honda admits that the concept, which it revealed at the 2018 SEMA show, borrows many bits from the Pioneer 1000 side-by-side all-terrain vehicle (we can spot the shared headlights, rear lights and doors right away), but it’s considerably bigger and more pickup-like. It also has quite a bit of underbody protection and plenty of ground clearance.

There are no windows to speak of, and the upper part of the vehicle is just a roll cage - in place of windows, it has nets to keep passengers from getting a rock to the face.

The bed looks like it’s the same size as that of the production Ridgeline, but since the body of the vehicle is narrower, it looks really wide in this context.

Interior

2018 Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept
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The steering wheel is from the Pioneer 1000, but the steering column is the original one from the Ridgeline. Seats have been swapped out for the ones in the Civic Type R (which are some of the best sports seats in any sports car, at any price) reupholstered with the same material as those of the side-by-side and are now weatherproof.

It is definitely extremely spartan, although the basic dashboard is still in place, albeit without most of the buttons and switches from the original Ridgeline.

The vehicle lacks any kind of infotainment, but Honda has fitted a smartphone mount on both sides of the recess where the screen would have been in the donor vehicle. It does, however, have four-point harnesses and grab-handles in the front and rear for easy entry.

Drivetrain

2018 Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept
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The chassis and running gear are all Ridgeline, though, as is the suspension and its engine and transmission.

That means it has a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that puts out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque - all of which is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. Honda does offer the Ridgeline with front-wheel drive, but we doubt this concept is only front-driven.

Final Thoughts

2018 Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept
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What Honda wanted to create here is a vehicle that blends the ruggedness of something like their Pioneer 1000 with the utility of a bigger pickup truck.

The company won’t, however, put it into production, although we’re sure it would have found some (very specific) buyers.

Now that Honda has got the ball rolling with this concept, third party car modders could attempt to recreate something along the same lines, since it uses mostly off-the-shelf components - it would require the cutting and throwing away of most of the original Ridgeline body, but that means it’d shed weight and improve performance.

This should, therefore, be a genuinely good off-road vehicle, one that you could really thrash without fear of scratching the bodywork - Honda had a great idea here and maybe it will start a trend of off-road-modified pickups with bolt-on bits from a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle; there’s definitely room for more of these.

  • Leave it
    • It’s just a study
    • You could get a rock to the face in it

Further reading

2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the 2017 - 2018 Honda Ridgeline.

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