The Toyota Tacoma is known for offering exceptional resale value.
The Tacoma offers more off-road capability than the Ridgeline
Two of the more compelling midsize pickups on the market today are the 2020 Toyota Tacoma and the 2020 Honda Ridgeline. While both offer utility and reliability, they couldn’t be more different in the way they’re put together. With its traditional truck design, the Tacoma uses a body-on-frame construction with a solid rear axle and offers great off-road capability as a result, but it’s a bit lacking when it comes to amenities and interior refinement.
The Ridgeline, on the other hand, is built on a unibody platform shared with Honda‘s Pilot and Passport, not to mention a couple of other vehicles in Honda and Acura‘s lineup. This construction, which includes a fully independent suspension, hinders the Ridgeline a bit when it comes to rugged capability, but the vehicle makes up for this with a more refined interior and better driving dynamics than any other vehicle in this segment.
Below we’ll take a look at these two pickups in greater detail to highlight their main differences and help you identify which one may be better for you.
The Tacoma wears rugged, aggressive truck styling, while the Ridgeline looks a lot like the Pilot and the Passport because, well, all three vehicles share most of their bodywork ahead of their b-pillars. The Tacoma is offered in two different cab configurations: There’s an extended cab model, which Toyota markets as the ‘Access Cab,’ and a 4-door ‘Double Cab,’ better known as a crew cab. Two different bed lengths are offered as well. Extended cab models come with a 6-foot bed, while crew cab models typically come configured with a 5-foot short bed, although the 6-foot bed can be optioned on the crew cab as well. The Ridgeline comes exclusively as a crew cab with a 5-foot bed, which is a bit shallower than the bed on the Tacoma — not to mention the other trucks in this segment. The bed does offer some clever features in the form of a large lockable storage compartment in its floor and a tailgate that can be opened from the side in addition to the traditional way. See the 2020 Toyota Tacoma models for sale near you
While we’ll get into this in greater detail below, it’s worth noting here that the Tacoma’s design allows for significantly more off-road capability than the Ridgeline. The Tacoma comes with a solid rear axle that allows for better rear wheel articulation than the Ridgeline’s fully independent suspension and an inch and a half of additional ground clearance. The Tacoma also offers strong aftermarket support, which means custom off-road suspension setups, unique bumpers and all kinds of different bed caps are readily available. None of this is really even on the table with the Ridgeline. See the 2020 Honda Ridgeline models for sale near you
Given that it shares the majority of its interior with the Pilot, the inside of the Ridgeline is a nicer space than the inside of the Tacoma. While the Tacoma keeps things pretty spartan and trucklike, the Ridgeline’s crossover-derived interior has a more welcoming layout, with higher quality surfaces and better ergonomics. In the Tacoma, you basically sit on the floor of the vehicle in what many describe as an awkward position. The Ridgeline offers a better seating position up front and a more comfortable back seat.
The Tacoma is offered with two engines, while the Ridgeline comes with just one. The Tacoma’s base engine is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that makes 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The Tacoma’s more capable engine, and the one you’ll find on virtually every model outside of the base trim, is a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Most Tacomas come fitted with a 6-speed automatic, but V6-equipped models are available with a 6-speed manual as well. In its most common configuration with the V6, automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive, the Tacoma is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in combined driving. Two-wheel drive nets one additional MPG in all three categories.
The Ridgeline’s sole engine offering is luckily a good one. Every Ridgeline comes powered by a 3.5-liter V6 putting out 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque paired with a new 9-speed automatic, which replaces a 6-speed auto offered in previous years. Given that the Ridgeline is built on a crossover platform, front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.
With AWD, the Ridgeline returns 18 mpg city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. As with the Tacoma, forgoing AWD nets an additional MPG all around.
While it’s built on a car-based platform, the Ridgeline is still pretty impressive when you look at its capabilities alongside more traditional midsize trucks like the Tacoma. The Tacoma is rated to tow up to 6,800 lbs, which is about what you expect in this segment. The Ridgeline is rated for 5,000 lbs — not as much as the competition, but still enough to tow a small boat or a camp trailer with ease. Payload is similar on these two trucks: The Tacoma is rated for up to 1,620 lbs, while the Ridgeline is rated for up to 1,584 lbs.
The Tacoma really pulls ahead though when the pavement ends. Thanks to its traditional body-on-frame architecture, the Tacoma offers significantly more off-road capability than the Ridgeline, comes with traditional 4WD with a true low range, and even offers two off-road-specific models in its TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims, both of which come with all-terrain tires, improved shock absorbers, a locking rear differential, multiple off-road driving modes and more. The Ridgeline offers AWD, which is less robust than 4WD and lacks the low range needed for technical off-roading. Given that, the Ridgeline really isn’t appropriate for more than your basic forest road.
Updates to both of these trucks for 2020 include the addition of new infotainment systems. Both now come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The base Tacoma comes with a 7.0-in infotainment screen, while all other trims get an 8.0-in unit. Every Ridgeline comes with an 8.0-in screen for 2020, but this system lacks a volume knob, which makes it frustrating to use. This is an issue that Honda has rectified throughout the rest of its lineup in recent years, so it’s odd that it still hasn’t added a volume knob to the Ridgeline.
The Tacoma comes with just two 12-volt outlets and only one USB port in the cabin, although mid-tier trim levels and up gain a 110-volt, 3-pronged outlet in the bed as a nice bonus. The Ridgeline is more generous when it comes to connectivity, as it comes with two 12-volt outlets and four USB ports in its cabin.
Both trucks can be had with a sunroof, heated seats, LED lighting and more. The Tacoma offers a power-sliding rear window and a JBL sound system. The Ridgeline’s party tricks include a lockable storage compartment in its bed floor, a tailgate that can be opened from the side and an audio system in its bed, which is great for tailgating.
Both trucks also come standard with a healthy array of active safety features, including radar cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams and lane departure warning (the Ridgeline has a more sophisticated lane keep assist system). Both trucks also performed well in crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway safety, earning Top Safety Pick awards in the process.
In its basic SR trim level, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma starts at $27,145, while a fully loaded TRD Pro model will top out at $47,760. The Ridgeline — which, remember, comes standard with a V6 engine and crew cab configuration, starts at $35,020 and tops out at $43,140 for a loaded RTL-E model or $44,640 for the special ‘Black Edition’ model, which adds black accents and some other cosmetic bits to a loaded RTL-E.
While they’re both midsize trucks, the Ridgeline and Tacoma go about things very differently. The Tacoma is a prototypical midsize truck and is, in fact, the top selling vehicle in this segment. It comes with trucklike attributes all around, including a body-on-frame construction, good off-road capability and a no-nonsense truck interior.
The Ridgeline on the other hand shares its underpinnings with a 3-row family crossover. Honda has tweaked things considerably to maximize the Ridgeline’s capabilities, but there’s only so much you can do with a unibody construction and independent suspension. But what the Ridgeline lacks in old-school truck demeanor, it makes up for with a more comfortable ride, slightly better fuel economy and a nicer interior.
Altogether, the Tacoma is the more exciting, more nostalgic and more youthful choice, while the Ridgeline is a little more sensible and easier to live with day-to-day. Which one is right for you, only you can decide. Find a Toyota Tacoma for sale or Find a Honda Ridgeline for sale