With Toyota Tacoma being one of the best selling mid-sized pickup trucks on the market, naturally, some competition has to arrive. On this site, we have compared the Tacoma to the Ford Ranger, the Ford F-150, and the Chevrolet Colorado, but now it’s time for Honda’s competitor: the Ridgeline.
Let’s see how these two “imports” stack up against each other.
To start out, let me be clear, I don't think Honda should be in the truck game at all. They make a pretty mean minivan in the Odyssey, but a truck. Nope! The Ridgeline is pretty late to the truck game having come out for a 2006 model. The Tacoma has had much time to learn from the market having come out in 1995. Since many things have changed over the years for both models, this article will focus on the 2020 models of each competitor.
* Options not available on all models
** Up to, with applicable packages/options
Trims, Sizes, and Prices
The Tacoma offers six trim levels (SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro) and the Honda Ridgeline offers four (Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition). The Honda not only offers fewer trim levels, but they are all far more expensive save for the Black Edition at just a few bucks cheaper. The base model for each is nearly an $8000 difference.
With both coming in around the same size, the Tacoma gives you a ton of options: bed sizes, cab lengths, and so on. Honda gives you none. With the Ridgeline, you have the option of getting the truck, or not. You get four doors and a small 5.3-foot bed.
Toyota offers two well-proven engines that make respectable power and are known to be quite reliable. Like the Ford Ranger, the Honda Ridgeline gives you one engine. Unlike the Ranger, it’s not a very modern option.
Honda is known for its reliability, so I’ll give them that, but that is about where it ends. The Tacoma offers two tried and true engines: the 2.7L four-cylinder, and the 3.5L V6. They make 159 and 278 horsepower and 180 and 265-foot pounds of torque respectively. Honda does crank out a bit more horsepower at 280 with its 3.5L V6 but a little less torque at 262 foot-pounds.
The problem is only having a V6. While gas is cheap at this very moment, it has not always been, and probably will go back up. Highway MPG ratings are better with the Honda overall thanks to its Variable Cylinder Management (being able to turn off a cylinder bank), but it seems that a four-cylinder is standard in today’s world.
Tacoma offers a six-speed manual and automatic. Honda does win here with a nine-speed automatic. While it is your only option, it does also help the Honda get its better gas mileage. If you need a manual transmission, chances are you want a truck because it’s a truck. Let’s face it… You’re probably not getting a Ridgeline anyway.
Towing and Off-Road
As alluded to at the end of the previous paragraph, the Honda Ridgeline does not act like a “truck.” The Tacoma is known for being able to tow and carry pretty much anything, as well as being able to go anywhere. Tacoma and off-road go hand in hand. The TRD Pro is built for it, and there are package options for the other trims. Not enough from the factory? The aftermarket for the Tacoma is extremely vast.
The Honda in this category makes it seem like it’s a Civic with a pickup bed (one of the smallest beds in its class, I might add). In its best trim, the Tacoma can tow almost 2,000 more pounds over the Honda at its best, and it can carry nearly 200 more pounds in the bed.
Toyota has plenty of factory options and trim levels to be able to build the best off-road machine that you can think of. The Ridgeline gives you a sunglasses holder standard on the RTL-E and Black Edition trim levels.
Colors and Interior
Colors and interior options are pretty equal. The Ridgeline interior is pretty identical for each trim level. It doesn’t look or feel like a truck. I’ll bring up the Honda Civic comparison again. Higher-end trim levels on the Tacoma do give you a luxurious feel, but it still feels and looks like you are in a truck.
While it is obvious that I am a Tacoma guy, I’ll give credit where credit is due. The Ford Ranger is a fantastic truck and one that really gives the Tacoma a run for its money. The Honda Ridgeline really is a Honda Civic made to look like a truck. If you want a less expensive truck with endless options, get a Tacoma. If you want a big car with no options, get a Ridgeline.
2020 Tacoma 1 - Courtesy of CNET
2020 Tacoma 2 - Courtesy of AutoBlog
2020 Ridgeline - Courtesy of Cars.com
2020 Ridgeline 2 - Courtesy of Curtiss Ryan Honda
2020 Ridgeline Interior - Courtesy of Motor1