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Ultimate tailgater: Honda Ridgeline embeds speakers in truck bed

In one of mankind’s greatest technology triumphs since the beer cooler ice chest got wheels, the 2017 Honda Ridgeline pickup has turned the truck bed into a sound system with the addition of six speakers to the bed walls. Now you don’t need to roll down the truck windows or open the doors to hear “Hail to the Victors Valiant” or “Sweet Home Alabama.”

The speakers, more correctly called exciters or transducers, are embedded two each in the left, right, and cab-facing walls. The transducers move the bed walls in and out, more or less like the cab’s audio speakers, except here the speaker cone material also has to withstand inclement weather and rocks being dumped in the truck bed during the workday. The six exciters produce 540 watts of audio and are controlled from the cab. It’s likely that if the audio doesn’t match Honda premium audio in the cab, after a couple beers the sound will be more than adequate.

The tailgate-party tailgate and truck bed do more than just audio. There’s also a 400-watt AC outlet, not the wimpy 100 or 180 watts you might find inside the passenger compartment. This is enough to power a big screen TV for several hours before the game before you need to switch on the engine. If the battery runs low, AC power cuts out so you’ll be able to start the engine and get home after the game. It should be noted 400 watts is also enough to run a blender if your tastes run to frozen margaritas. Need ice? A trunk compartment under the truck bed stores a ton of ice (figuratively) and there’s a drain to empty the melted ice afterwards.

The 2017 Ridgeline is the latest midsize pickup truck to be serously updated. Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma are also new or seriously upgraded.

The Ridgeline appeared a decade ago with somewhat unique styling features. It’s been off the market for a couple years and now comes back resurrected with a lot of Honda Pilot underpinning the Ridgeline. The engine is a 3.5-liter V6, 280 hp, and a six-speed automatic, the same as on the Pilot. Like the Pilot, it can be had with front-drive or torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive. Ridgeline can haul 1,600 pounds of people and cargo. It also has most of Honda’s passenger car safety features: lane departure warning, lane keep assist, collision mitigation braking, and Lane Watch, or on the top lines, blind spot detection.

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