Honda US gives Ridgeline truck tougher looks

Redesign from windscreen forward gives Honda's US truck a tougher look

Honda Motor is redesigning the looks and the marketing for its sport utility vehicles and trucks to appeal more to US consumers who are paying premiums for rival automakers' vehicles that offer a more rugged, off-road adventure image, a media report said.

Reuters noted, since the 1970s, Honda had been synonymous in the US with understated, well-engineered and highly efficient cars such as the Civic and Accord. It also offers SUVs, minivans and the Ridgeline pickup truck. The report also noted, over the past five years, US consumers had shifted toward larger vehicles with all wheel drive, stronger suspension, big grilles and body armour designed for ploughing over desert paths and mountain trails though [as in the UK] most such vehicles never leave pavement.

Reuters said Ford's new Bronco sport utility and its F-150 Raptor model are chasing this trend while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expanding its Jeep brand to reap more profit from a segment it dominates. More than 70% of vehicles sold in the US last year were midsize trucks and SUVs while 53% of Hondas sold fitted those categories. Honda does not sell a large pickup that competes with the Ford F-150, and is therefore shut out of one of the US market's most profitable segments.

"We are not on trend with the rest of the industry," Jay Joseph, Honda's US automobile marketing chief, told Reuters during a conference call. Honda on Thursday unveiled a new look for its midsize Ridgeline pickup, giving the vehicle a bigger grille and other off-road cues. A new advertising campaign launched Friday shows the Ridgeline hauling dirt bikes and charging down unpaved roads in the Rocky Mountains.

Former wrestler John Cena gives the ads a 'tough guy' voice.

Honda is hoping the new approach will boost Ridgeline sales to 50,000 trucks a year from about 33,000 in 2019, Joseph told the news agency.

Honda's Passport mid-sized SUV would be one of the next models to get the off-road makeover, Joseph told Reuters.

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