2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma: Best Small Truck

If you’re shopping for a small or midsize pickup truck, your eye might have landed on the Honda Ridgeline.

Since its 2005 introduction and 2016 redesign, the Ridgeline has grown into a top pick for the best small truck on the market. Not quite a full-sized pickup, but more than a crossover SUV, the Honda Ridgeline initially struggled to find its footing in the market.

Now, in a matchup with its closest competitors, such as the 2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma, the Ridgeline is the truck to beat.

New refinements and redesigns have changed it into a drivable, safe, and powerful car. The 2021 model sports an exterior redesign as well as a number of new features.

Read on to find out more about the features of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline.

New in the 2021 Ridgeline

Honda’s only entry into the pickup category, the Ridgeline offers itself as more of an alternative to pickup trucks than a competitor. It is designed for those who may need the carrying power of a pickup but don’t need to do serious towing or intense off-road driving.

The advantages of this approach are many. The Ridgeline drives like a car – quick and fuel-efficient for its size. It is as comfortable in urban traffic as it is on backroads and farmland.

However, the earlier designs of the Ridgeline could strike an uneasy balance between truck and crossover SUV. The new redesign emphasizes the Ridgeline’s capabilities as a pickup, making it blockier and tougher looking.

Honda has redesigned the exterior of the Ridgeline for 2021 from the cabin forward. The grille and headlights are larger and more upright, the track width is wider, and the hood now sports an engine bulge. 

Also available is a Honda Performance Development (HPD) optional package. This adds new bronze wheels and tires, black overfenders, and new HPD graphics. While still more of a daily driver than a true off-roading machine, the 2021 Ridgeline can now visually stand with its competitors at Ford and Toyota.

Honda Ridgeline Specs

The 2021 Ridgeline comes with all-wheel drive as a standard option. It has a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 3.5 liter V-6 with 280 horsepower.

The dual nature of the Ridgeline gives it a pleasant, car-like feeling on the road. It has little of the bumpiness or jostle associated with some pickups.

This is largely due to its independent rear suspension, in contrast with the solid axles of most trucks. This means the driver sacrifices some all-terrain abilities but gains a much smoother daily driving experience.

The Ridgeline’s towing capacity is rated at 5000 pounds, more than enough for most uses. 

Fuel economy is another area where the Ridgeline has an advantage. Expect approximately 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. This is noticeably better than most trucks of its size.

Interior and Safety Features

The Ridgeline interior is among the most spacious and comfortable in its class. Rear passengers enjoy much more space than is typical on pickups of this size.

The Ridgeline also has 34 cubic feet of volume and an in-bed trunk offering another 7.3 feet. Its wide wheel wells give it more space to lay cargo flat than its competitors.

On the inside, all models come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Some models offer a truck-bed audio system that can turn the bed into a large speaker – perfect for tailgate parties and family gatherings.

The Ridgeline is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. It has a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

The Ridgeline comes standard with adaptive safety features such as front and rear collision detection and a lane departure warning system. More safety features can be added in optional packages.

The Ridgeline also has 34 cubic feet of volume and an in-bed trunk offering another 7.3 feet. Its wide wheel wells give it more space to lay cargo flat than its competitors.

Available Trim Levels

The 2021 Ridgeline is available in four trims: the base Sport model, the RTL, the RTL-E, and the Black Edition.

The RTL edition includes an interior upgrade. This adds leather trim, a one-touch power moonroof, and heated front seats. It also has more safety features, such as the Blind Spot Information System.

The RTL-E includes all RTL features and adds a wireless phone charger, truck-bed audio system, premium speakers, and a Honda satellite navigation system. It also adds a truck-bed power outlet and two USB ports for powering your devices.

The luxurious Black edition comes with all features on the RTL and RTL-E and adds an exclusive Black exterior trim, wheels, and interior. It also features red ambient LED lighting. The Black edition adds a touch of luxury and sophistication to what is usually a strictly practical truck.

2021 Honda Ridgeline vs Toyota Tacoma

Car and Driver magazine recently put the Honda Ridgeline to the test against its closest competitor, the Toyota Tacoma. The results showed the Ridgeline to be superior in several categories.

The Ridgeline had a higher overall payload capacity, hauling nearly 1,600 pounds to the Tacoma’s 1,100. It combined a higher cargo capacity with being quicker, going from 0-60 a full 1.3 seconds faster than the Tacoma.

It also has an advantage in space and versatility. As mentioned above, the Ridgeline’s wider wheel wells allow it to haul flat objects like plywood. Its dual-action tailgate can be either lowered or swung open, making it easier to load and unload the bed.

The Tacoma also lacks an in-bed trunk, which offers greater security and storage space. This feature is standard on all Ridgeline models.

Overall, the Ridgeline offers a superior experience in comfort, practicality, and driving.

Where to Buy the 2021 Honda Ridgeline

Combining drivability with space and hauling power, the 2021 Ridgeline is the perfect choice for someone looking for a truck that can do it all. Tests pitting the 2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma find the Ridgeline coming out on top every time.

We are a Honda dealership serving Victoria, Texas, and the surrounding area. Stop in today to test drive the 2021 Honda Ridgeline and browse our selection of other new cars and new trucks.