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The 2017 Honda Ridgeline, the 2nd generation of the boundary-pushing mid size pickup, feels a lot like the cool new kid in the segment. To say it’s defining a trend may be pre-emptive, but we will say we’re keeping an eye on it.

When we first glimpsed it at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, we were intrigued. Similar, but different. Rugged but sophisticated. Assuredly familiar, but innovative. Perhaps more “truck like” in appearance than its predecessor, with a forward sloping stance and a new cutline.

 

 

The punchy, athletic styling carries over into the interior, too. Sitting in the driver’s seat of the 2017 Ridgeline is not a typical truck experience for most. The console will, however, be familiar to Honda drivers, along with many of the features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that works with the touchscreen.

To say that the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is “different” might be to alienate it, though. Sure, it’s unique, but it’s most certainly a truck. Under the hood, Honda’s 3.5-liter, i-VTEC V6 engine makes ready 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it has a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. Very truck-like in deed.

On the road, it again becomes apparent that this vehicle was designed for recreation as well as utility. Some say it drives more like a car, SUV, or a crossover—but we’ll leave the comparisons up to you. What we will say is that the rigid and aerodynamic body construction of the Global Light Truck platform, combined with the completely independent front and rear suspension systems with Amplitude Reactive Dampers, make for an unusually smooth ride…you know, for a truck.

There’s also been some healthy internet talk about the durability of mid-sized pickup’s beds (and not just about the tailgating-approved, Blutooth, sealed, waterproof speakers embedded therein). Enter the Rock Drop Test—this is about durability, as all good truck tests are—where hundreds of kilos of large rocks are dropped from a few feet into the beds of willing truck subjects.

Here’s how the Honda Ridgeline stood up to the challenge: