Click above for a gallery of the 2009 Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline is unique in the world of pickup trucks, with the Japanese automaker attempting to straddle the line between efficiency and utility by relying on a unibody chassis, V6 engine and a front-biased all-wheel drive design to reduce weight and cut down drivetrain losses. Is it a success? That's debatable, with the final product weighing about 650 pounds less than a full-frame, V8-powered Chevy Silverado but actually managing slightly lower fuel economy than the XFE edition of GM's larger truck.

Dave Marek, chief designer and senior manager of the automotive styling group at Honda Research and Development, Americas, said, "The (current) Ridgeline was the right thing to do at the time. But now that the truck market is a moving target, our opportunity is to make it more fuel-efficient -- aerodynamic and lighter -- but still retain the core value it has, which is the inside space and usage in the back."

To meet the goal of reduced weight without sacrificing utility, Honda may cut down on standard equipment and use aluminum where possible instead of steel in the next-gen model. A more steeply raked windshield and a revised underbody could improve aerodynamics and, therefore, fuel economy.


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