2021 Tacoma vs. Ridgeline Comparison

The Toyota Tacoma remains a strong competitor in the mid-size truck category. It offers the power you need to haul and the agility to go off-roading. To keep up with the Tacoma legend, the Honda Ridgeline has undergone design and performance updates for 2021.

While both of these trucks have lots of desirable features, the Tacoma can tow more, has more standard safety features, and includes factory-scheduled maintenance. All of this comes for less, too, with a starting price of $26,400 compared to the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport which starts at $36,490.

Plus, the Tacoma is made with quality in mind so it can outlast the competition. Based on an evaluation from Edmunds, the 2021 Tacoma had a True Cost to Own® value of $38,297, while the 2021 Ridgeline will cost you more over a five year period with a grand total of $41,817.

Both the Tacoma and Ridgeline have their pros and cons, but which one checks more boxes for you? Let's take a closer look at performance, reliability, and safety.

Published Date: 06/23/2021

2021 Tacoma parked at a beach front

Performance

  • The Tacoma has a higher ground clearance than the Ridgeline making it easier for the Tacoma to trek just about any ridgeline.
  • The Tacoma is built strong for towing.
  • The Tacoma has several TRD models for some off-roading fun.

The Tacoma and Ridgeline offer power for towing and wherever your adventures may take you. However, only one of these trucks is ready to take you from the lot to the mountains.

Capable of Anything

With a 9.4-in. ground clearance, 40.6-ft. turning circle diameter, and a lighter overall GVWR of 5,600 lbs., the Tacoma was built with off-roading capability in mind. The Honda Ridgeline, on the other hand, has a lower 7.4-in. ground clearance, a larger 43.4-in. turning diameter, and a heavier GVWR of 6,019 lbs.

The Tacoma also offers the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro for those who want to easily traverse unknown territories. For a smooth ride, the TRD Pro includes TRD-tuned off-road suspension with 2.5-in. FOX® Internal Bypass coil-overs and rear remote-reservoir shocks. To help keep you steady, the TRD Pro with automatic transmission and TRD Off-Road 4x4 with an automatic transmission have an electronically controlled locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select (MTS), and Crawl Control (CRAWL). Comparatively, the Ridgeline has MacPherson Strut Front Suspension, Multi-Link Rear Suspension, an Intelligent Variable Torque Management™ (i-VTM4®) AWD System, and Intelligent Traction Management.

If you're more interested in what's under the hood, the Toyota Tacoma SR 4x2 Access Cab comes standard with a 2.7L 4-Cylinder engine and 159 horsepower. You can also choose the more powerful 3.5L V6 engine option with 278 horsepower for a starting MSRP of $28,660. The 2021 Honda Ridgeline has a standard 3.5L V6 engine that has 280 horsepower, but it will cost you $36,490.

Even though the Ridgeline has more standard horsepower, it still can't compete with the towing capabilities of the Tacoma. The base model Tacoma SR 4x4 Double Cab V6 can tow up to 6,400 lbs. Or, tow up to 6,800 lbs. with the Tacoma SR5 4x2 Access Cab V6 or TRD Sport 4x2 Access Cab V6. All Ridgeline trucks have a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.

Plus, with Tacoma’s one-piece frame rails with eight cross members, fully boxed front sub-frame, and Trailer-Sway Control (TSC), the Tacoma is reinforced for peak performance.

Tacoma driving through brush on a dirt road

Reliability

  • The Tacoma comes with the ToyotaCare plan while the Honda Care Maintenance™ costs extra.
  • The Tacoma has been America's Best-selling midsize pickup truck for the last 16 years.
  • The Tacoma's True Cost to Own® is less than the Ridgeline.

A truck that's not reliable is no truck at all. People want workhorses they can depend on. That's why Toyota includes factory-scheduled maintenance with ToyotaCare.

Built to Last

All 2021 Toyota Tacomas come with the ToyotaCare plan. This includes factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, plus 24-hour Roadside Assistance for two years and unlimited mileage.

For Honda drivers, roadside assistance is included with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty. However, Honda Care Maintenance™ is a prepaid plan that will cost you extra for services like oil and filter changes,which are included with ToyotaCare.

You won't be surprised to learn that the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is the Best Buy of the Year among midsize pickup trucks and won Best Resale Value: Midsize Pickup Truck for 11 years in a row (2010-2020), according to Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com. It's also been America's Best-selling small pickup truck for the last 16 years.

When you buy a Tacoma, you're investing in a product that’s made to last. According to Edmunds, the 2021 Ridgeline's True Cost to Own® is $41,817 including a total of $5,115 for maintenance over five years. Comparatively, the 2021 Tacoma's True Cost to Own® is $38,297 overall and $4,701 for maintenance.

Interior of 2021 Tacoma

Safety

  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) is standard on every Tacoma model and comes packed with many safety features.
  • The Honda Sensing® suite has similar standard features aside from Auto High-Beam Headlights which are not available on the base model RTL-E.
  • Both the Tacoma and the Ridgeline also have many airbags for drivers and passengers.

Safety features have become more sought-after in today’s vehicles, and the Tacoma and Ridgeline should not be overlooked in this category.

Standard Safety Features

Toyota’s suite of standard active safety features, Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) helps you stay safe on the road. The high-tech features that come built into your Tacoma include a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

The Honda Sensing® suite includes comparable features like the Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). Auto High-Beam Headlights are only standard starting on the RTL-E, however.

More traditional passive safety features, like airbags, are found throughout the Tacoma and Ridgeline. The Tacoma has driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and rear Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA). Plus, when you're rocking and rolling, the Tacoma also has driver and front passenger active headrests. These are designed to shorten the distance between your head and the headrest to help reduce neck injury during a rear-end crash. The 2021 Ridgeline has Advanced Front Airbags, SmartVent® Front Side Airbags, and Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor. It misses out on knee airbags and active headrests.

2021 Tacoma parked at an outlook in front of a scenic mountainscape

Conclusion: Tacoma vs. Ridgeline

  • The Tacoma has a lower starting price than the Ridgeline.
  • To get Honda Care Maintenance™ you'll need to purchase a prepaid plan.
  • The Tacoma can handle more towing weight than the Ridgeline.

The Tacoma is an economical choice that’s by no means lacking in the categories discussed previously. The Ridgeline comes with some similar features as the Tacoma, but it costs more for the 2021 model year.

However, one big advantage for the Tacoma is the ToyotaCare plan, which includes factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Honda Care Maintenance™ costs Ridgeline drivers extra. Spend more time on the road and spend less money at the shop with the 2021 Tacoma.

You can also tow more with the 2021 Tacoma SR5 4x2 Access Cab V6, which has a max towing capacity of 6,800 lbs. All 2021 Ridgelines can only tow up to 5,000 lbs.

Whether you're an adrenaline junkie who likes to go off-roading or an avid fisher that takes their boat wherever they go, get more out of your truck for less with the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.