Honda is releasing new Ridgeline this year, looking forward to testing it

Honda’s made over Ridgeline has arrived at just the right time. The all-new pickup, introduced at the North American International Auto Show, joins one of the fastest growing segments in automotive industry: The midsize pickup segment.

Midsize pickups as a whole grew 48.4 percent while the entire industry grew 5.7 percent in 2015, according to AutoData Corp. The massive growth arrived with the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which added to the segment instead of stealing sales from the front runner, the Toyota Tacoma, which also saw sales climb 15.8 percent for the year.

The Ridgeline, with its unibody construction, smooth ride and unique features, should add to the segment again, instead of fighting for a finite number of customers already there. “These will be incremental sales increases,” said Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “I see a lot of replacement demand.”

Lindland said that the type of customer who might by a Ridgeline would be less interested in the other midsize pickups.“These are family vehicles,” Lindland said. “It’s a lifestyle truck.” The Ridgeline arrives later this year with a different take on what a pickup should be for its customers.

John Mendel, executive vice president of America Honda Motor Co., said during the Ridgeline’s debut that Ridgeline purposely moves away from more traditional body on frame pickups, offering customers a clear difference than the Tacoma, Colorado and Canyon. “We think we’ve got a better idea, a truck that uses its unibody construction and Honda packaging magic to deliver more of the things that many of today’s truck customers want and need with none of the things they don’t,” Mendel said during the press conference on Monday.

The Ridgeline arrives with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive and will be powered by Honda’s 3.5L direct injection V6. It will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. While fuel economy numbers have not been reported, Honda executives said they expect it to deliver a segment-leading number, which currently stands at 27 miles per gallon.