2017 Detroit Auto Show: Honda Ridgeline Wins North American Truck of the Year

January 09, 2017 by Paul A. Eisenstein, @DetroitBureau

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.

9 Responses

  1. chris

    Honda , truck of the year? Seriously???? They make a truck? I’ve never seen one on the road? Who comes up with this????

    Reply
  2. Andy

    So some safety features, and an inverter built into the box, makes this truck of the year? Toyota has had that for a while. What about its tiny box? Towing capacity? Cant even install a gooseneck into it. Longevity? See how strong it is after 10 yrs of canadian rust. I’m more inclined to think it would have won suv of the year. I’m thouroughly dissapointed, to me this just discredits whomever voted for this “truck”

    Reply
  3. Bob

    As a previous owner of a GMC , Dodge Ram, Toyota and Datsun trucks which I enjoyed each and everyone of them my all time favorite truck is my new 2017 Honda Ridgeline the Honda. It provides enough truck features and amazing car like ride with great safety features and technology that rivals my Lexus Rx350. Honda knew there were great choices by other manufactuers to go off roading, pull a heavy trailer, or haul construction supplies to a work site. For a large number of people who need to pull an occasional trailer , carry 1,500 lbs of equipment in the bed but who mostly use it as a daily driver they built the Ridgeline. I like going to Home Depot and easily parking in a narrow parking space and then having the safety sensors alert me if someone walks behind my truck as I back up. Every truck has its good to great features, the Ridgeline is fun and comfortable to drive and has technology that keeps you safe.

    Reply
    • Jason

      So… You need saftey sensors in your truck to know if people walk behind you? There’s another great invention for that… Its called eyes, when combined with a head that turns and mirrors I generally don’t feel under informed about what’s behind my truck.

      Reply
    • Lawrence stacy

      The whole point being it is not a real truck. Might be great for what it is but it is not a truck and should not be in the same class. It is more a blown up modern version of an Elcamino. So winning truck of the year is a joke.

      Reply
  4. Antonio

    Wow. Way to go Honda. I recall everybody dishing the CR-V when it came out saying that it is not an SUV as it is not based on a Truck Platform. Guess what?, 20 years has gone by and now and the CR-V is the best Selling SUV and all of the other Brands have their SUV’s as crossovers, being the hottest segment on the Market.

    I think they are on to Something here. Second time they made a Truck and second time they win the Truck of the year!!! What a Nice engineering, think-out-of-the-box Company. My greatest respects……And those Engines….simply the best in the WORLD!!!!

    Reply
  5. John Baatenburg

    I have been driving a truck since the 70’s and my 2017 Ridgeline RTL-T AWD is hands down the best truck I have ever owned. I like most people will never drive over rocks, pull a 5000 plus trailer or haul over 1500 lbs. And the bonus is my wife will drive it because she says the visibility is great and drives like her SUV. Honda got it right because it will meet the needs of over 90 percent of the people.

    Reply

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