If at first you don’t succeed, at least in the case of Honda, you try again. And it’s paid off, the completely redesigned Honda Ridgeline winning honors as the North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show Monday.
Honda recently launched its second-generation midsize truck, a move many in the industry questioned considering the poor reception the Japanese automaker had received for its original offering, which used a car-based platform rather than a conventional body-on-frame design.
The new Honda Ridgeline stuck with that formula, but adopted a more truck-like exterior design while adding an assortment of new features – from a trunk-like storage bin to an advanced suite of safety features – that have resonated with consumers, as well as the 60 U.S. and Canadian journalists on the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year, or NACTOY, jury.
“It’s always nice to be vindicated,” said John Mendel, Honda’s executive vice president. “We’ve never really been known as a truck company. It’s nice to get to get this sort of recognition going up against some very tough competition.”
The Ridgeline beat out the other finalists – the new aluminum-bodied Ford SuperDuty truck and the light-duty version of the Nissan Titan pickup.
Honda wasn’t the only automaker to go up against conventional wisdom and take home the NACTOY trophy. General Motors took honors in the North American Car of the Year category with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first mainstream-priced, long-range battery-electric vehicle.
“The market is taking notice of this car, the first to offer a no-excuses reason to drive an electric vehicle,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s global product development director.
The Bolt topped both the new Genesis G90 luxury sedan and the Volvo S90. The Swedish sedan shares platforms with the Volvo XC90 that won the Truck/Utility award in 2016.
The truck and utility vehicle categories were split apart for 2017, reflecting the increasing shift from the passenger car to truck side of the market. And it resulted in another surprise win, this time the new Chrysler Pacifica minivan taking home the Utility Vehicle of the Year honors.
“Despite so many alternatives that have come to market over the past 20 years,” said Tim Kuniskis, who heads the car brands at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, “there is no better alternative for a family than the minivan.”
The Pacifica topped both the Mazda CX-9, as well as the F-Pace, the first-ever utility vehicle from the Jaguar side of Jaguar Land Rover.