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Ah, yes... "Baby Steps," an expression that describes gradual improvements in what preceded. Overused for sure, but it clearly describes Honda's approach to the 2017 Ridgeline.

Now that the news embargo is over we will be seeing a slew of preliminary road tests. Time to dig a little deeper, examine Honda's thinking and to see where Honda might go with this new truck.

Honda set a number of goals with the new Ridgeline: 1) Sell more trucks. 2) Appeal to current Ridgeline owners who are ready to trade for a new truck. 3) Sell more trucks. 4) Expand their market share by attracting new buyers who hated the styling of the old Ridgeline. 5) Sell more trucks. 6) Convince skeptics that the Ridgeline is indeed capable of doing truck tasks. 7) Sell more trucks.

My take is that this new Ridgeline is about 80 percent there; as the saying goes, "Close but no cigar." I'm really curious as to how this truck might evolve. There have been rumors that a regular cab model with a long bed may be in the works. Will we see it? Who knows — but by having such a model available, it would go a long way in terms of convincing (some) critics who say it's nothing but a "Pilot with a bed."

Then there's the "youth market." Honda has gone on record saying they're not interested in courting them; a huge mistake in my opinion. Hopefully they'l re-think that and offer a legit off-road model with all the requisite goodies like more ground clearance, 2-speed transfer case, skid plates, tow hooks, larger all-terrain tires —5 of them, meaning no temp spare tire! It doesn't have to be a rock-crawler, but at least give it more capability to be considered an alternative to the 4x4 competition.

Another area that needs to be re-thought is that Honda is offering seven trim levels. That's crazy. Most of them are so close to one another that it makes decision-making difficult. Cut it back to three of four trim levels, max. Makes life much easier.

But yes, I think this truck, even as it stands, will be a sleeper in its segment and will do reasonably well in terms of sales. I think truck customers have seen and gotten used to the old Ridgeline, and have found — for what it was intended to do, it's really a pretty good truck. This new one certainly builds upon that — and it's no longer ugly. That's all good in my book.

Related Video:

2017 Honda Ridgeline | Beauty-Roll

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