The locking storage trunk concealed under the pickup bed has sparked marketing buzz for the Ridgeline.
Gary Flint, the vehicle's chief engineer, says the trunk was part of the Ridgeline from the first day of development.
Flint and other Honda engineers talked to focus groups and observed how drivers of pickups and SUVs used their vehicles. The drivers wanted secure storage space where valuables could be kept out of sight.
The independent rear suspension in the Ridgeline freed up space underneath the bed that is not available in traditional pickups. On pickups such as the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram, the space under the bed is occupied by the axle, frame rails and fuel tank.
"I had a plywood mock-up built with the actual physical trunk size," Flint says. "We paid people $20 to bring in actual things they take with them in their vehicles."
The result: an 8.5-cubic-foot storage trunk concealed neatly under the pickup bed.
After the trunk was designed, Honda applied for patents but then faced another problem: It wanted complete secrecy until the Ridgeline was introduced at the Detroit auto show in January.
"I'm surprised we kept it a secret," Flint says. "Even internally, we let no one see this vehicle. When we showed it to dealers, we didn't show the trunk. The vehicle was roped off in a way that they couldn't get to it."
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