Next Honda Ridgeline to eschew weird visuals, go mainstream?

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Last year, Honda gave us the first furtive glance at the next-generation Ridgeline with a shadowy photo of it in profile (above), and it promised that the pickup would “come to market in less than two years.” That would have put the truck on track for a 2015 debut, but the automaker hasn’t said anything more officially about the new model since then.

A new report from USA Today might shed some new light on the mysterious model. It claims that the nextRidgeline has more conventional pickup styling than the original model in a bid to conquest some buyers. You can get that feeling from the sketch, which appears to showing something far more traditional than the unorthodox original Ridgeline, whose odd tapering bedsides terminated in a double-hinged tailgate.

USA Today goes on to claim that the new Ridgeline will go on sale around late 2015 or early 2016. That’s a bit later than expected, but fits with an earlier rumor.

Even accepting the Honda’s original two-year claim, the new Ridgeline is diving into a filling pool of midsize pickups. The new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon should have their diesel engines about then, and the next Toyota Tacoma is rumored for around then too. A Nissan Frontier successor might also be on the way. That’s a lot of fresh competition hitting at roughly the same time for a segment that hasn’t seen a new entrant in many years.

The original Alabama-built Ridgeline wasn’t exactly a rip-roaring sales success with its unibody chassis and quirky layout. So maybe Honda is right to bide its time until the next one is perfect.

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