Lights trucks — crossovers, SUVs and pickups — were really the thing to have in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Honda Motor Co., which gained traction in the 1970s with small cars, had steadily expanded its lineup with crossovers and minivans.
A traditional pickup was the only major hole in the brand's lineup.
Yet for years, pickups had been low on Honda's priority list; they weren't considered extensions of the family car.
Before seriously thinking about pickups, the company needed a credible minivan, the Odyssey, and then jumped into the fast-growing SUV segment, with the compact Honda CR-V and the larger Honda Pilot and Acura MDX. Then it had to build enough factory space to satisfy demand.
But in 2001, eager to keep Honda buyers from drifting to another brand, development got underway when an engineering team began experimenting with Honda's first development mule, an extended version of a first-generation Acura MDX crossover. A competitor's pickup bed was integrated in the rear structure.
After four years of development, the final design was revealed to the public as Honda's Sport Utility Truck Concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show. Later in 2004, Honda unveiled a revised version of the pickup concept at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show and shared the official name of the vehicle — the Ridgeline.