Honda and Toyota have two different takes on what makes a great midsize pickup truck. The Honda Ridgeline is designed for casual truck users who want an open-loading platform without sacrificing the comfort and convenience of a crossover SUV.
The new Toyota Tacoma is for those consumers who want a rugged vehicle that rides like a truck and feels durable, especially during off-road adventures.
Which approach is better? It depends on who you ask. According to JD Power’s 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) study, Honda Ridgeline owners have a strong emotional attachment to their vehicles, with Honda ranked first among midsize trucks.
On the other hand, more people buy a Toyota Tacoma each year than any other midsize truck. If you have any midsize pickup trucks on your list, this 2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. 2021 Toyota Tacoma comparison will help you focus on what’s important to you.
Benefits of a Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma
The interior is a significant asset to consider when choosing a Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma. Both trucks have cabs designed for your lifestyle, but the 2021 Honda Ridgeline offers extra comfort and plenty of other essential features.
The Ridgeline offers a standard eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen infotainment display with connectivity like Apple CarPlay, while the Tacoma has a standard seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display.
Both models have an available remote start feature and can turn on the climate control system remotely, but the Ridgeline has a standard three-zone automatic climate control system with humidity control. Tacoma has a standard single-zone climate control system.
New Honda Ridgeline trim levels cater to all your needs and offer competitive value at every level. The main difference is in the style of the interior, as the Ridgeline offers a chic, high-end, car-like interior that puts everything within reach; The Tacoma has perhaps a more utilitarian interior.
However, when it comes to safety, the Ridgeline inspires confidence with its Honda Sensing technology. Six features come standard; collision avoidance braking system, road departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, and roadway departure warning.
By comparison, standard safety tech in Tacoma includes automatic high beams, radar cruise control, pre-collision, and roadway departure warning.
Interior: Headroom (front / rear). 2021 Toyota Tacoma: 39.7 / 38.3 in. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 40.1 / 38.8 in.
Interior: Legroom (front / rear). 2021 Toyota Tacoma: 42.9 / 32.6 in. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 40.9 / 36.7 in.
Interior: Shoulder room (front / rear). 2021 Toyota Tacoma: 58.3 / 58.9 in. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 78.6 in.
Interior: Hip room (front / rear). 2021 Toyota Tacoma: 57.2 / 56.3 in. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 59.1 / 56.6 in.
Interior: Interior Passenger Volume. 2021 Toyota Tacoma: 100.1 cu ft. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 109.7 cu ft.
Safety of a Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma
Honda and Toyota are industry leaders when it comes to security features and has a reputation for generally safe vehicles, so it’s no surprise that the Tacoma and Ridgeline are equipped with high-tech gadgets that make both trucks safer for everyone on the road.
Driving a small truck no longer means you have to compromise on technology or safety, as these two pickup trucks include many of the industry’s most popular tech safety devices.
Toyota Tacoma: Standard Tacoma features start with the Star safety system, which includes vehicle stability control, traction control, an anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, an emergency braking system, and Smart Stop technology.
In addition, the Toyota Safety Sense system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.
The Tacoma also comes standard with an advanced driver and front passenger airbag system, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and roll-sensing front and rear side airbags, active driver head restraints and front passenger, child seat.
Protection of rear door locks, tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer, and Toyota Care with roadside assistance function.
Ridgeline: The new Honda Ridgeline standard safety features start with a host of active road gadgets, including collision avoidance braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.
There is also a standard multi-angle rearview camera system along with industry standards such as stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, brake assist, and tire pressure monitoring. In terms of airbags, every Ridgeline comes with advanced front airbags, Smart Vent front-side airbags, and rollover-sensing side curtain airbags.
Optional Honda Ridgeline safety features include blind spot monitoring available on RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition models, while RTL-E and Black Edition models are equipped with automatic high beam headlights.
Bottom line: Both of these trucks have a long list of standard safety features, but the new Toyota Tacoma has the advantage of more airbags and more safety systems.
Performance and efficiency: Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma
Every 2021 Honda Ridgeline comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, producing 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. It is one of the most powerful and advanced 6-cylinder engines in its class. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
The EPA estimates Ridgeline fuel thrift in combined city and highway driving at 21 mpg.
You have two engines to choose from for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma. The base 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine with 159 hp. and 180 lb-ft of torque only comes with the 6-speed automatic.
Those are modest numbers for a 4,000-pound truck, so most Tacoma buyers get an affordable 3.5-liter V6 engine. It develops 278 hp. and a torque of 265 lb-ft. You can select a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.
All-wheel-drive Tacoma gets 21 mpg combined, regardless of engine. Four-wheel drive trucks get 20 mpg if your Tacoma has an automatic transmission.
With a V6 transmission, the Tacoma gets just 18 mpg combined. You’ll likely see lower fuel consumption on the TRD Pro, as its raised suspension and all-terrain tires reduce fuel consumption.
Bottom line: Honda Ridgeline advantage.
Is Ridgeline worth the money?
Considering that, the Honda Ridgeline has a number of advantages. It is both useful and offers a competent driving experience. Many driver assistance features are also standard, adding to the value of this small truck.
The Ridgeline is also available in several trim levels. This makes finding the right number of trucks an easy task. Whether you’re buying the base model or something with more expensive features.
Fuel economy Ridgeline vs. Tacoma
By and large, the fuel economy figures of the new Toyota Tacoma and the new Honda Ridgeline are pretty mediocre. They’re not bad, and they’re not great, but for roomy open-bed pickups, those numbers are pretty normal in the midsize segment.
Toyota Tacoma: Fuel economy ratings for the Toyota Tacoma vary by engine, transmission, and drive configuration. A rear-wheel-drive 4-cylinder Tacoma gets 20 mpg city and 23 highway, while rear-drive V6 trucks get 19 mpg city and 24 highway.
Adding wheel drive to 4-cylinder trucks only brings the rating down to 19 cities and 22 highways, while all-wheel-drive V6 models get 18 cities and 22 highways. The rugged off-road models with manual transmission offer 17 km/h in the city and 21 km on the open road. The Tacoma has a 21.1-gallon fuel tank.
Ridgeline: With the standard V6, automatic transmission, and wheel drive system, the Honda Ridgeline is rated for 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. The Ridgeline has a 19.5-gallon fuel tank.
Bottom line: If you compare the V6-powered, all-wheel-drive Tacoma to the standard Ridgeline, both offer the same fuel economy figures in the city, but the Honda is 10% better on the highway thanks to the 9-speed automatic.
If you want wheel drive and better MPGs, the Ridgeline is a winner, while the rear-wheel-drive Tacoma’s V6 offers the same 24 on the highway and 19 in the city, making it a winner for those who can live with a two-wheel-drive truck.
Comfort and utility Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma
If you like convenience, you will be amazed by the 2021 Honda Ridgeline. Every Ridgeline comes with a double-acting lockable tailgate that can open to the side or drop down for easier loading.
Also, the standard is the Honda In-Bed Trunk, a 7.3-cubic-foot lockable storage compartment located on the cargo bed floor. It has both a drain plug (in case it is being used as a cooler) and food bag hooks.
All Honda Ridgelines come with eight mounting studs. Higher trims have a 120-volt, 400-watt outlet in the bed, as well as a truck audio system, so you can listen to sports during a picnic.
Ridgeline front seats were ranked second among bulk trucks and vans in the 2020 JD Power US Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study, and JD Power’s independent vehicle testing experts also gave these seats high marks.
The inner armrests are a potential annoyance as they make it difficult to buckle up the seatbelt. The rest of the Ridgeline cabin has an attractive design and high-quality materials. It also includes three-zone climate control, a rare convenience for a midsize truck.
In comparison, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma Taxi seems almost fancy. This is a modern-day example of what trucks looked like when people used them for work and adventure rather than daily commuting. However, you’ll love the functionality of Tacoma’s large round air vents and large control buttons, dials, and knobs.
Getting in and out of the Tacoma can be tricky unless you’re tall or exceptionally flexible. And even with 10-way power seat adjustments on most trims, it’s hard to find a good driving position if you’re over 6 feet tall.
Older kids will love the back seat of the Tacoma Double Cab. The high-mounted rear seat provides excellent visibility, while the accessible power rear window makes it easy to let in the fresh air. Unfortunately, there are no air conditioning vents in the back, although most Tacoma is available with dual-zone climate control in the front.
All 2021 Toyota Tacoma come standard with four fixed cargo tie-downs in the bed and four adjustable braces on the rail system. If you need extra functionality, Toyota Tacoma offers the Trail Special Edition package with two lockable storage compartments, one of which can be used as a refrigerator. Most Tacoma comes with a 120-volt, 400-watt cargo outlet.
Bottom Line: Honda Ridgeline advantage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Honda Ridgeline bigger than a Toyota Tacoma?
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline offers drivers a more spacious cabin than the 2021 Toyota Tacoma. Specifically, you’ll find 109.7 cubic feet of interior passenger volume in the Honda Ridgeline and 100.1 cubic feet of passenger volume in the Toyota Tacoma.
Why the Ridgeline beats the Tacoma?
Comparing Honda Ridgeline vs. Toyota Tacoma trucks will reveal the many competitive advantages of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline. You’ll find additional standard safety features, more power, standard all-wheel drive (Toyota Tacoma offers it as an option), a more spacious interior, a longer, and wider truck bed, better fuel efficiency, and other benefits.
The Honda Ridgeline will be enhanced with unique features such as a lockable trunk in the back of the truck bed and stowage boxes under the rear seats.
Are there any issues with the Honda Ridgeline?
The most common problem is with the valve springs. These springs can break and cause engine misfiring. This is serious trouble as it can damage the catalytic converter as well as lead to other engine issues.
Is the Honda Ridgeline the same size as the Toyota Tacoma?
The dimensions of the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma are similar. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is 4.2 inches wider and 0.4 inches taller than the Tacoma, but the Tacoma is 2.1 inches longer than the Honda Ridgeline. The Honda Ridgeline also has a truck bed that is 3.5 inches longer and 8.5 inches wider (measured between the wheel arches) than the Tacoma.
If you’re looking for a midsize truck that offers the best combination of power, payload, cargo capacity, safety technology, and off-road capability at a fraction of the price, the Toyota Tacoma is the best choice of the two trucks. If you’re going to be driving off-road, on rough roads, or planning on doing any real truck work, the Tacoma is the best option.
If you want a truck with more interior space, better interior tech, safer cargo space outside the cab, and a more SUV-like feel on the road, the Ridgeline is your best bet.
Indeed, if you’re only going to drive the truck on the road and don’t plan on towing or hauling a lot of weight, the most significant difference between the two trucks is driving dynamics, and for our taste, we prefer body-on-frame truck Tacoma frame feels.