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    2020 Toyota Tacoma vs Honda Ridgeline - How Do They Compare?

    2020 Toyota Tacoma vs Honda Ridgeline - How Do They Compare?

    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.

    Drivetrain

    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.

    Conclusions

    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

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Fender Flares

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Fender Flares

    Fender flares are just one of the many things that can be done to change the look of our extremely customizable Toyota Tacomas. Fender flares give an aggressive look, and they offer protection when offroading, or to those less fortunate who are behind us on the highways. For around $150 to $600, it’s an inexpensive option that can set your ride apart from the rest. 

    What are fender flares, and what are they for?

    So, what are fender flares? Fender flares are an accessory that you can find for most trucks, SUVs, and even some cars. They are usually a plastic extension that bolts or sticks directly over your wheel well. They extend over the factory wheel well/fender lip.

    That’s great, but what are they for? There are three main reasons people get fender flares: looks, protection, and legalities. If you want to give your truck an aggressive and mean look, fender flares are a great way to do so. They add width to your ride and a diverse color palette to break up the factory color on your body.

    Protection is the next biggest reason. If you enjoy some weekend rock crawling, chances are you may get close to a tree or boulder that would not be very friendly to your paint. A fender flare will be a great line of protection to take a moderate beating first. I say moderate because it is still attached to your fender. Too much of an impact, and it could dent the metal fender it is attached to. The biggest protection it offers is to stop the throwing of mud and rocks when you have oversized tires. Wider tires look great, but when they extend beyond the body of your truck, that exposed tread will throw behind it anything it runs over. You might not care what happens to your truck, but the person in the Lexus behind you on the highway will.

    That leads me to the next point: legality. In some areas across the US, it is illegal for you to have tires that extend beyond the body of your truck. The main reason is for what I stated above with Mr. Lexus. Fender flares extend the body of your truck to cover your wheels to keep everything safe and legal. 

    How do fender flares mount to your Tacoma?

    There are three main ways that fender flare will attach to the body of your ride: bolted to the fender, bolted under the fender using the wheel well liner attachment points, or taped.

    To offer the strongest protection and longest lasting durability, bolting these to your fender is the best option. The downside to this would be the permanent nature of it. This method involves you actually drilling holes into your fender for the bolts of the flares to slide through. Once you do this, you’ve made your decision. Those holes will always be in your fender. Should you decide to take the flares off, you’re stuck with holes. Should you decide to change fender flare brands, the holes may not line up. All that aside, the fender flares won’t be going anywhere on their own. They won’t flap in the breeze or rip off if you graze a tree. Toyota does make it a tad easier for us though: a good amount of their models have small factory “flares” that have the holes behind them already!

    A less permanent method, but still strong would be ones that bolt underneath the fender using the holes already drilled for the fender/wheel well liner. The flare itself will then be secured to the body of the fender with tape or some type of glue. These don’t require any additional modifications to your truck, but they also don’t offer the same durability. Keep in mind the bulk of the weight and mass of a fender flare is above the bottom lip of the fender. The holes for the liner underneath that and usually at the bottom of the fender. They are also placed where they are because they don’t need to support much weight. If you get these types of flares, don’t go too crazy with the off-roading! 

    The last and certainly least method would be tape only. These are purely for looks only. While some brands may look like they have bolts, they are just for show. The whole unit is stuck on your Tacoma with double-sided tape and/or some type of glue. If you want looks only, these can be a good option. Provided the glue or tape doesn’t dry out, they will stay in place and can be removed later. A tree will remove them too when off-roading.

    Fender flare material and finish

    In most cases, these will be a black plastic or composite material. Plastic/composite is light, durable, and easy to make/mold. Some companies offer color-matched options, and you can always get them painted, but let’s be real: black looks so good!

    Fender Flare options for your Tacoma

    As always, here are some popular options that people on the forums and Facebook pages seem to like. Find what works best for you and your wallet. There are way more options out there. Get to looking, and make your truck yours!

    In plenty of searches and posts, Bushwaker comes up a lot. They offer a typical looking flare system that installs using the bolt method. They come in a smooth black finish and can be had for around $450 to $500. These are by far my favorite fender flares on the market. You can check them out and buy them here.

    For around $350, RDJ Trucks offer a wide range of finishes with its models. Smooth, or exposed bolts. Smooth, or textured finish. They are also a pretty decent price and have a good warranty on their products. You can check them out and buy them here.

    A much cheaper option would be these TAC Fender Flares that you can find on Amazon. For just under $200, you get the look of some aggressive flares. These won’t break the bank and will get the job done for looks. You can check them out and buy them here.

    Stage 3 Motorsports will be the most expensive option on this list, but they offer color-matched painted flares. For $688, you can get a set of flares painted to match your ride. If you don’t like the black look, this could be the option for you! You can check them out here.

    Image Credits

    Bushwacker - Courtesy of Bushwaker

    RDJ - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user Darkgoatracer

    TAC - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user ReelAddict

    Stage 2 Motorsports - Courtesy of State 3 Motorsports

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Sport Racks

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Sport Racks

    If you’re looking for a Toyota Tacoma or already have one, you probably want something that can haul stuff, pull stuff, carry stuff, and something that can do all that on any terrain with ease. Tacomas not only do that, but they look good while they do it. While they are great from the factory, sometimes you just might need that extra cargo space, and that is where sports racks come in. 

    What Is A Tacoma Sport Rack?

    A sports rack is a type of rack designed to mount on your vehicle to allow extra storage or mounting space. They can mount to your roof, bed, hitch, and come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and heights. So many options! Which is right for you? Let’s find out.

    Different Types of Sports Racks For Tacoma

    • Roof Rack - A roof rack mounts to the roof/cab of your truck. It usually is just the length of your cab and holds little weight.
    • Bed Rack - A bed rack mounts to the side walls or inner rails of your bed and can match the height of your cab, extend slightly above to make use of the roof of the cab, or lay just above the height of the bed. In some cases, bed racks can have an extension that hangs over the cab/roof, but they generally don’t mount to the roof.
    • Hitch Rack - A hitch rack mounts to the hitch of your truck. They are great for low storage and can fold out of the way when not in use. These are also your most common rack for bicycle transportation.
    • Tailgate Rack - These either drape over your tailgate or replace it completely (generally converting your drop open tailgate to a side swinging one). The drape-over one is common for bike transportation, while the tailgate replacement is for those serious overlanders.
    • Headache Rack - These mount directly behind the cab to the bed. They are mostly used for protecting the rear window from an oversized load in the bed, but can also be used to hang gear from and mount light bars to.

    How To Mount Sport Racks On a Tacoma

    With so many different brands and types of rack, mounting is really up to what the manufacturer states. There are some generalities, so let’s focus on that. Toyota is pretty great when it comes to aftermarket friendliness. They expect people to modify their trucks and have some factory options that prep for. That lends well to roof racks. Back in the day, if you wanted a roof rack, you had to drill into your roof to bolt it in. Third generation Tacomas have them already drilled for you. Put the bolts in for your rack, and you’re good to go!

    Bed racks generally make use of the mounting locations in the bed. Simply slide the feet into the anchor points, bolt down where necessary, and you’re good to go. For this reason, bed racks are great for weekend use. While perhaps not the easiest to take on and off by yourself if they are full-sized and tall, they are easy in terms of simplistic installation and removal (no holes or drilling). Headache racks mount the same way, but only right behind the cab.

    Tailgates racks are not super common, but they generally either drape over your tailgate and have a couple mounting points or velcro, or they replace the entire tailgate. That can lead to a variety of different ways to install it.

    Hitch racks mount directly to your hitch. They are easy to take on and off and great for your weekend camping trips. They generally don’t hold excessive amounts of weight, but bikes and coolers are no problem!

    How Much Weight Can a Sport Rack Hold?

    How much weight one of these can take depends mostly on where it is located on your truck. Generally speaking, if it’s attached directly to your cab/roof only, the weight limit is about 100 pounds, and that number comes from Toyota. Something that is attached to your bed depends on the manufacturer's specifications, but they can be around 800 pounds. A hitch rack can hold around 300 to 750 pounds. It all depends on what the manufacturer says.

    Tacoma Sport Rack Uses

    Since a roof rack can only hold about 100 pounds, you’re limited to what you can put on there. While that may seem like a high number to the common folk, you can quickly surpass that if you’re not careful. A typical canoe is going to weigh around 65 pounds, so if you strap it down well, you’ll be good there! A few backpacks worth of camping gear would be great, though I would recommend putting them in a cargo shell (keep in mind the weight of that as well).

    One of the best uses would actually be a light bar! Without a roof rack, you probably will have to drill into your roof to add a light bar. That’s going to drop your truck’s value for anyone who doesn’t want that light bar, or if you take it off and keep all the lumens to yourself. Most people are not going to take a roof rack off when they sell, so attaching a light bar to that will be sturdy, yet temporary.

    It’s also a great place to mount a full-sized spare tire. It’s out of the way, and easy to access if you’re off-roading.

    Specialty Sports Racks

    If you use your truck to transport your special gear to and from home to your destination, you might find a benefit to having a specialty sports rack. These are designed specifically to hold your skis or snowboard, kayaks, paddleboards and surfboards, and more. If you need an extra “bed,” you can get what’s known as a basket. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a large metal basket that is perfect for throwing stuff in and strapping it down. The good thing about all of these is that they are usually universal and attach to an existing roof rack or another system.

    Sport Rack Options

    As always, here are some options that are popular on the forums and Facebook groups. Since I listed a bunch of different types, here’s a good option for each category.

    OEM is probably your best way to go for a roof rack. Being OEM, the value of the truck won’t hurt, if not go up. They will work, look good, and fit. You can find an OEM Toyota Tacoma roof rack on Amazon for about $300.

    Since hitch racks are more universal, a lot of companies make them, but one that comes up a lot is the Swagman Current Hitch Mount. For around $400, you can get a quality rack for your hitch. You can check it out here.

    While only the height of your bed, bed racks by KB Voodoo Fabrications come up over and over again on the forums as a great option for your truck for around $200, and allow you some serious mounting options with a minimalist approach.

    Tailgate racks are not very common but RaceFace makes one that you can find on Amazon for around $100. This is what I use for hauling around our mountain bikes. It's quick and easy to use and I highly recommend it! You can check it out here.

    A good headache rack comes from Magnum Truck Racks. From around $500 - 700, they have options with window cutouts, lights, and more.

    Image Credits

    Roof Rack by Toyota - Courtesy of Genuine Toyota on Amazon

    Hitch Rack by 1UP - Courtesy of The Loam Wolf

    Bed Rack by KB Voodoo - Courtesy of KB Voodoo Fabrications

    Tailgate Rack by RaceFace - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user ÜberToyota

    Headache Rack by Magnum - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user Whiteknight15

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    Diode Dynamics Toyota Tacoma Exterior & Interior Lighting Upgrade

    Diode Dynamics Toyota Tacoma Exterior & Interior Lighting Upgrade

    As you know, this blog is dedicated to Tacoma owners! I produce a lot of content around ways to upgrade or mod your Tacoma, in addition to reviewing products and things that I'm doing to my Tacoma.

    In today's post, we're going to be looking at upgrading your interior and some of your exterior lighting. Just so I'm fully transparent, Diode Dynamics sent me, at no cost, the SS3 fog light kit to use and review. I purchased the headlights and all interior lighting. Now that's out of the way, let's get to the details!

    Low Beam LED Headlights

    For the most part, I've been fairly satisfied with the headlights on my 2016 Tacoma. Last year, however, I started to get the itch to upgrade my lights and I started looking at Tacoma Beast and Spyder, but just couldn't stomach the idea of spending several hundred dollars on something like that. When the new 2020's started to hit the road, it really made me want to start looking at them again.

    After looking at all of my options, I decided to keep my stock headlights and start replacing the bulbs with the Diode Dynamics LED's. The one thing I really loved over anything else is that their lights were a complete OEM-grade solution. Not only were they plug and play, but they were compact, have optically correct output, flow-simulated cooling and a boost-mode electrical circuit. In short, they are everything an LED replacement bulb should be.

    They were also very easy to install. All you have to do is pop the hood, reach down, unscrew and unplug the stock lights and make the swap. Literally took me less than 5 minutes to bang it out. Here are some before, during and after pictures to show the differences.

    These fit all 2016 - 2020 models. You can buy them here for $150.

    Tacoma SS3 LED Fog Light Kit

    Diode's Tacoma fog light kit was the very first of the lighting upgrades that I worked on. Until these, I was a previously running the Cali Raised amber fog pods. I loved them so much, the look, the brackets, etc. The one reason I was most interested in switching is that I wanted a fog that I could run at all times. The Cali Raised pods are not street legal, they are far too bright.

    The install would have been a serious breeze, except that I had to remove the Cali Raised brackets in order to get these installed. Once the brackets and lights were removed, the install took about ten minutes.

    The output on these is killer. They are just the right amount of bright and coupled with the LED low beam upgrade, I can see so much better at night. No longer am I worried that I'm going to hit someone when driving through my neighborhood. The one thing you need to make sure to do when installing these is making sure that they are pointed down at the road instead of level or up. If they are level or up, they will be too bright for driving and cause issues with oncoming traffic.

    Here are some before, during and after pictures.

    These fit all 2016 - 2020 models. You can buy them here for $200 (sport) or $320 (pro).

    Tacoma LED Map Lights

    About a month ago, I did a write up on MESO customs and included their LED map lights as part of the review. After spending some time with them, I decided that they were a little too bright for me and wanted to get something a little less aggressive.

    I decide to buy Diode Dynamics HP3 map lights (56 lumens) and I'm very happy with the way they look and the amount of output they have. If I could do it again, I probably would have gone up one more step in brightness, but these are still great and as I said, I'm very happy with them.

    Here are a few pictures of what they look like. The first picture is how they were (I put my stock lights back in so you could see the difference) and the second picture is how they are now.

    These fit all 2005 - 2020 models. You can buy them here. They start at $8.00 and go up depending on color and brightness.

    Tacoma LED Dome Light

    As mentioned above, I was running the MESO customs map lights and was waiting for them to get their new dome light finished and on their website so I could buy it and take it for a spin. When I ordered the map lights, I decided to grab a dome light and, again, I couldn't be happier with the result.

    I purchased the HP6 (24 lumens) and the light itself is quite a bit brighter than the stock light (when you look at the pictures, it's hard to tell). Even my three-year-old daughter noticed a difference when she first got in and went to put on her seatbelt. She could see a lot better and didn't whine about not being able to do it. 

    Here are a few pictures of what it looks like. The first picture is how it was and the second picture is how it is now.

    These fit all 2016 - 2020 models. You can buy the 2016 version here and you can buy the 2017-2020 version here. It starts at $5.00 and goes up depending on brightness.

    Tacoma LED Vanity Lights

    I wasn't planning on upgrading the vanity lights in my Tacoma, because the only person who really uses them is my wife when she's doing her makeup when we're on the go. After giving it some thought, I thought, what the heck... it's not a huge expense and it will finish off the interior with LEDs.

    Again, super happy with how they turned out. I got the SMF 2 (24 lumens), which are the brightest and they are just the right amount of light.

    Here are a few pictures of what they look like. The first picture is the two lights next to each other and the second picture is how they look together.

    These fit all 2005 - 2020 models. You can buy them here. They start at $12.00 and go up depending on color and brightness.

    To close, if you're looking for a really affordable option to start upgrading both your internal lighting and external lighting, Diode Dynamics is a fantastic choice! I highly recommend them.

    The History of The 2nd Generation Toyota Tacoma

    The History of The 2nd Generation Toyota Tacoma

    After the successful run of the first generation Toyota Tacoma, designers and engineers took to the drawing boards again in the year 2000. After the nine years of the first generation, Toyota launched the second generation pickup on October 18, 2004.

    While the original Tacoma won the hearts of thousands of owners, Toyota wanted to do more for the fast-growing model. Chief engineer Chikuo Kubota started in 2000 with goals to make the truck bigger, more powerful, and more capable than before. Hino Motors in Japan (which is responsible for many of Japan’s medium and full-sized trucks) handled most of the development work. In 2001, there was an internal design competition at Hino for the Tacoma, and it was won by Shigeya Hattori and Hideo Karikomi.

    From there, testing and production took the fast road to success. The designs were settled in 2002, and patents were filed, test mules were produced, and prototypes were constructed in 2003.

    Toyota finally showed the public what they had been working on at the February 4, 2004 Chicago Auto Show. The Auto Channel reported,

    The arrival of the all-new Tacoma series will mark the first step in expanding our presence in the North American light truck arena," said Don Esmond, Toyota Division senior vice president and general manager. "Larger in every metric of comparison, the new Tacoma will offer an extensive variety of body-and-bed configurations with substantially more passenger room, cargo volume, and towing capacity than ever before.

    The crowd didn’t have to just look at the shiny new X-Runner that was teased to the public much longer, because on October 18, 2004, Toyota launched the second generation Tacoma. With it came eighteen different configurations that included three cab configurations, four transmissions, two engines, and two bed lengths. This really opened up the market to have a truck for almost any buyer.

    The 2.4L four-cylinder and 3.4L V6 were dropped, but the 2.7L four-cylinder was kept. The 4.0L V6 was introduced to act as the new high output engine option. Transmission options went up to four! The transmissions were both four and five-speed automatics and manuals. Power went up to 159 for the 2.7L, and 236 horsepower for the 4.0L. 

    Toyota realized that the S-Runner was not doing too well for the first generation, so Toyota dropped it and introduced the X-Runner. This was Toyota’s street machine. The truck had the V6 with a six-speed manual transmission. The suspension was upgraded with Toyota’s X-Brace system as well as lowered two inches to help match the power. All of this was sitting on 18-inch wheels. 

    Since Tacoma was known for off-roading, Toyota, of course, decided to add more to those seeking dirt and rocks.  Down-Hill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) was added to the trucks with the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) off-road packages. Locking or limited-slip differentials were also optional features.

    The beds were heavily upgraded to allow better utilitarian use of them. A 12v outlet was also added to the bed for the TRD models.

    As time went on, changes were made to the Tacoma to better meet the needs of the public. Every year seemed to add just a little bit extra.

    2006 made a lot of the optional 2005 features standard. 2007 and 2008 were the same as 2006 aside from some color options. 2009 offered a number of changes from added safety features, to the replacement of the mechanical differential to a new “Auto Limited Slip Differential.”

    Production location had a major change in 2010. After the economic crisis in the US, and GM declared bankruptcy, all joint ventures between GM and Toyota ceased. One of the changes Toyota decided to make was to move all of the Tacoma production to one location in San Antonio, Texas where they would be built next to their bigger brothers: Tundra. 

    More creature comforts were added in 2009 and 2010 including speakers, satellite radio, and more. Major cosmetic changes including the front bumper, headlights, grille, and hood came about in 2012 really updating the look of the truck. 2013 took the entertainment a step further with a touch screen but took certain features away such as the satellite radio unless you got a certain optional package.  In 2014, the new SR trim came about.

    Toyota finally decided to create the third and current generation Tacoma starting in 2015. With it came a host of changes that make the Tacoma even better than before. The 2020 will even surpass that, especially with heated competition.

    Image Credits

    2005 Concept - Courtesy of The Car Connection

    Tacoma Gen 2 Picture 1 - Courtesy of Autotrader

    Tacoma Gen 2 TRD - Courtesy of FourWheeler

    Tacoma Gen 2 TRD Picture 2 - Courtesy of The Car Connection