When engineers are allowed to go a little mad.
It’s SEMA time in Las Vegas, and so all the left-field totally-bonkers concept cars are out to play. Honda is no exception, and they’ve arrived at the legendary show with a concept car that basically personifies what happens when engineers dream up a large dune buggy. Say hello to the Rugged Open Air Vehicle concept, a working study that Honda reckons is the very best off-roader the company could ever build.
The Rugged Open Air Vehicle is based off the North American Honda Ridgeline ute, but it takes aesthetic inspiration from the Honda Pioneer 1000 buggy. As a result, the ROAV (which is what we’re calling it now) offers the utility of the Ridgeline, but with the sheer extreme visual expression of the Pioneer. As well as some of its capability, too.
The body & suspension of the Ridgeline served as a base, upon which Honda’s North American R&D team went nuts with the styling. S o there are doors from the Pioneer, and a matching custom bed & tailgate, with various other body panels revised to look more Pioneer and evoke a sense of go-anywhere-do-anything capability.
As necessitated by the lack of a roof, the cabin has had to be revised to ensure all-weather usability, hence the use of the Pioneer 1000’s steering wheel, and the re-upholstering of Civic Type R seats with the waterproof stuff that the buggy offers too. Panels have been painted with durable surfaces to protect them from the elements, and there are even smartphone holders from RAM Mounts to (somewhat) accommodate for modern accoutrements.
There were no powertrain details available to the press, which suggests to us that there remains a 3.5-litre V6 iVTEC mill from the Ridgeline hiding beneath the bonnet. Paired to that should be a 6-speed automatic transmission, which powers all-four wheels.