Reader, I am vexed. Vexed, I tell you. The Honda Corporation, in all of its vastness and magnificence, sometimes makes things that are good, and sometimes makes things that are bad. That boring Acura RDX? Bad. This Honda Ridgeline that’s been absolutely transformed into a dune-bashing buggy? Good. Extremely good.
I know it’s hard to believe, but somehow, some way, that thing really did start out in life as a Honda Ridgeline pickup. You know, the pickup truck with the nifty bed speaker system. It’s the Honda Accord of pickups. And somehow, it’s become THIS:
Virtually nothing of that is even recognizable as a Honda Ridgeline, except, uh, is that still the little refrigerator-box trunk?
Not that it matters, as this thing looks like it’s ready to storm the palace of some petty Middle Eastern dictator rather than tailgate a Bills game. (Not that there’s much of a difference.) It’s officially called the Honda Rugged Open Air Vehicle concept, and it’s the crazed fever dream of Honda’s American research and development team.
Most SEMA concepts never actually go anywhere. (Why would they? Most of them are expected to last a week and then get shoved into a warehouse somewhere.) But from these photos it looks like the thing really does motor.
With this sort of thing you’d probably expect it to be just a wildly custom job, all specially fabricated parts that shall never see the light of day. But Honda says in a press release that it tried to build the thing out of readily available parts as much as possible:
The vehicle combines the utility of the Honda Ridgeline with the off-road ruggedness and extreme styling of the Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side. While the Rugged Open Air Vehicle is a concept, it nonetheless uses existing Honda components, such as modified Ridgeline body and suspension, along with production Pioneer doors and custom designed bed and tailgate panels modeled after the Pioneer.
But what I really love about this is that Honda was thorough. They didn’t just completely chop up the outside, throw on some suspension parts and wheels and tires, and then call it a day. They went all-out on the inside (does this thing really even have an inside?) too:
The Ridgeline-based interior has been modified for a life exposed to the outdoors and features a Pioneer 1000 steering wheel adapted to the Ridgeline steering column, along with Civic Type R seats reskinned in waterproof Pioneer 1000 material, smartphone holders from RAM Mounts, and durable paint-on surfaces to protect the exposed instrument panel from the elements.
So not only can you drive this thing through the desert all day, when the rare desert storm pops up you can just keep on pounding through all the rain. Oh, and it looks good, too.
So not only does this thing have seats ripped out of a Honda Civic Type-R, they’re also now waterproof.
What I love about this is what it says about something like the Ford Raptor. Yeah, yeah, the Raptor can bash through sand, too. And it’s got windshield wipers for the rain.
But what if you wanted to COMMIT to the desert? To drive into the endless dry wastes and spend the rest of the eternity there.
Well then, forget the Raptor. Get this.
(You cannot get this. It’s a concept for SEMA.)