When Honda teased the all-new Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept previously, we envisioned some type of crossover convertible, maybe with big off-road tires and fender flares. But Honda has gone in a much cooler direction, bringing together the separate worlds of its powersports and automotive lineups. Part Ridgeline pickup, part Pioneer 1000 side-by-side, the ROAV is 110 percent off-road fun and high-flying adventure.
While it provided details about its other concept builds ahead of the SEMA Show, Honda saved the Rugged Open Air Vehicle for this Tuesday's press conference. And it's not hard to see why – concepts like the Ridgeline Overland Project are cool, but the genre-splitting ROAV is on another level.
Honda R&D Americas took lead on the Rugged Open Air Vehicle project, aiming to combine the utility of the Ridgeline with the off-road readiness and extreme styling of the Pioneer 1000. It started off with existing components, using the modified Ridgeline body as the basis for what's essentially a stretched UTV with large cargo bed.
The Ridgeline's cabin area has been whittled right down to the skeletal rollcage of a side-by-side. Production Pioneer doors join the angry face in giving the ROAV a very defined UTV look, while the specially developed bed and tailgate maintain the cargo-hauling utility of the base Ridgeline while matching the Pioneer look perfectly. A modified suspension helps smoothen out the uneven ground below.
Honda's done a nice job creating a super-sporty but practical side-by-side pickup outside, and its work has continued inside. It has redesigned the Ridgeline interior to hold up to the dirt, dust and debris of open-air off-roading, adding durable paint-on surfaces and Civic Type R seats re-skinned in waterproof Pioneer 1000 fabric. It's also adapted the Pioneer 1000 steering wheel to the Ridgeline steering column and dropped in RAM Mounts smartphone holders.
All in all, the Rugged Open Air Vehicle looks like a super-versatile addition to anyone's vehicle stable, combining the pure fun and adrenaline of a powersports toy with some of the utility of an off-road truck. Whether you're simply speeding down trails and up over dunes, carrying tools and supplies to a distant job site, or heading out with a bed of camping gear for a multi-day off-roading adventure, the ROAV can get it done like few other vehicles out there.
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