Honda's Rugged Open Air Concept Is One Glorious Off-Road Mashup

SEMA 2018

Combine a side-by-side UTV with a pickup truck and this is what you get.

Between its UTVs and SUVs, Honda is no stranger to off-roading. But now it's brought those two together to create the Rugged Open Air Vehicle Concept.

Unveiled at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the concept takes elements from Honda's Ridgeline pickup and Pioneer 1000 side-by-side and blends them into one robust off-road package that's entirely open to the environment it's designed to traverse. Think of it less as Honda's answer to the Jeep Wrangler and more of a conceptual rival to the Ariel Nomad and Mahindra Roxor – if only Honda were to actually put it into production.

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Though exact specifications were not disclosed, the concept is said to take the body, suspension, steering column, and most of its interior from the Ridgeline. The doors, pickup bed, tailgate, and steering wheel, meanwhile, are lifted out of the Pioneer 1000. Even the Civic Type R donated to the project, the seats borrowed from the hot hatch and reskinned in the waterproof fabric used on the Pioneer to better withstand the elements (with apologies to Honda's discontinued crossover box).

Just what's powering the machine, we don't know. Sometimes these concepts don't have much more than a small motor to move it on and off the show stand.

For what it's worth, the Pioneer uses a 1.0-liter twin good for 72 horsepower, with all-wheel drive and a six-speed DCT. The much larger Ridgeline packs a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 hp and mated to a six-speed automatic, available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

The manufacturer describes the Rugged Open Air Vehicle as “a physical thought exercise of what the ultimate off-road Honda four-wheeled vehicle could look like.” The big question is whether it'd be classified as a “recreational off-highway vehicle” (like the Pioneer) or as a light truck (like the Ridgeline) certified for use on the road. We may never find out.

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