2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. 2021 Ford Ranger

2021 Honda Ridgeline vs Ford Ranger

Midsize trucks are soaring in popularity these days because they offer a more fuel-efficient, more maneuverable, and less expensive alternative to their beefier full-size cousins.

Rising to the top of the pack in this highly competitive midsize-truck market is the all-new 2021 Honda Ridgeline. Both consumers and car experts alike give the redesigned Ridgeline high marks for its rugged good looks, car-like comfort and ride quality and innovative features that put it miles ahead of the competition. In fact, automotive authority Car and Driver recently ranked the 2021 Ridgeline as their #1 choice among midsized pickups.

In an automotive version of “King of the Hill,” many automakers are trying to knock the Ridgeline off its coveted top spot as the reigning champion of the midsize truck market. Today we’ll pit the 2021 Ridgeline against the 2021 Ford Ranger model in a head-to-head competition. Let’s see which pickup comes out on top.

2021 Ridgeline - Out Truck The Competition

Ridgeline Gets a Rugged Makeover

We won’t argue that both the Ridgeline and the Ranger are good-looking trucks. But the Ridgeline kicks aggressive athleticism up a notch with a bold makeover that emphasizes its rugged, rough-and-ready DNA. The Ridgeline gets all-new sheet metal that gives it a tough, purposeful appearance that Car and Driver says is “…typically reserved for the brawny superhero of your favorite comic book.” The publication adds that the Ridgeline’s new LED headlights give it a “menacing glare.”

2021 Ridgeline - Styling

By comparison, the Ranger’s not benefited from a design update for several years. As’s Mark Takahashi points out: “The Ford Ranger is one of the newer midsize pickups in the U.S., having debuted two years ago after a multi-year hiatus. Unfortunately, Ford used a Ranger design it had been selling in other markets for about a decade instead of coming up with an all-new truck. As a result, the Ranger isn't as compelling as rivals that have undergone more recent redesigns.”

Ridgeline Offers Exclusive Best-in-Class Innovation

Honda designers and engineers don’t just think out of the box; they invent entirely new boxes to begin with. That’s why the 2021 Ridgeline Sport AWD puts midsize-truck competitors like the Ford Ranger in its rearview mirror with an array of innovative and cutting-edge features.

For example, there’s the Ridgeline’s exclusive, available Truck Bed Audio system that transforms the entire truck bed into essentially a giant speaker. Plus, the Ridgeline’s exclusive Dual-Action Tailgate® can be opened either in the traditional “down” position or to the side like a door for unsurpassed access to its ultra-tough composite truck bed that can easily accommodate 4-foot-wide items like plywood and drywall.

2021 Ridgeline - In-Bed Trunk

The Ridgeline’s convenient and secure lockable In-Bed Trunk® is both waterproof and washable; you can even fill it with ice to transform it into the ultimate ice chest!

Plush Ridgeline Cockpit Outclasses Spartan Ranger

The spacious and versatile Ridgeline’s roomy and comfortable interior outclasses the Ford Ranger’s more cramped and spartan cabin in just about every area. For 2021, the Ridgeline Sport AWD is more handsome and sophisticated than ever with attractive new cross-stitching and cloth-seat inserts, a revamped dash, a new sport steering wheel, and new console accents. It offers comfortable seating for up to five adults.

The 2021 Ranger XL SuperCab’s interior also can’t match the Ridgeline’s many innovative features that put it ahead in terms of versatility. These include the Ridgeline’s exclusive 60/40 split rear seats that, when flipped up, can accommodate items as big as a full-size bicycle. The Ridgeline also aces the Ranger when it comes to sheer inner space.

In the tale of the tape, the Ridgeline Sport AWD offers more front and rear hip room, more front and rear shoulder room, more rear headroom, and more rear legroom than its Ford rival.

2021 Ridgeline - Spacious Interior

The Ridgeline’s ergonomic interior also features controls and instrumentation that are easy to use. Unfortunately, the Ranger comes up lacking in this important area, as Mark Takahashi points out: “The drawback to the Ranger’s interior comes from the irritating switchgear, explains Takahashi. “The controls are grouped well from an overall point of view, but their operation falls short at the end user-level. The total lack of hard infotainment controls and the climate system’s many small buttons are two examples.”

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD 2021 Ford Ranger XL
Rear Legroom 36.7 inches 34.5 inches
Rear Hiproom 56.6 inches 53.5 inches
Front Shoulder Room 62 inches 56.7 inches
Rear Shoulder Room 61.5 inches 56.3 inches
Rear Headroom 38.8 inches 38.3 inches

Ridgeline Combines Power with Standard AWD

Honda flexes its off-road muscles with an advanced i-VTM4® torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive and Intelligent Traction Dynamics System that are now standard equipment on all Ridgeline models, including the entry-level 2021 Ridgeline Sport AWD. These systems optimize power delivery and redirect torque to improve handling in a variety of road conditions.

On the other hand, Ford’s base 2021 Ranger XL only comes in 4X2 rear-wheel drive. You can, of course, opt for pricier trim levels like the XLT and above, or add full or part-time AWD capability as an expensive option.

In terms of performance and handling, the Ridgeline sprints ahead with a potent 280 horsepower, 3.5-liter, direct-injected VTEC® V6 engine mated to a responsive 9-speed automatic transmission. It delivers a robust 262 lb.-ft of torque for the grunt to tow up to 5,000 pounds*. It can also haul up to 1,583 pounds of payload.

2021 Ridgeline - Standard AWD

The 2021 Ranger counters with its base 2.3-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost® inline four-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers 270 horsepower. The Ranger’s maximum trailering capacity in this configuration is just 3,500 pounds.

2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport 2021 Ford Ranger XL
Horsepower (SAE net) 280 hp @ 6000 RPM 270 hp @ 5500 RPM
Max Towing Capacity 5000 lbs.* 3500 lbs.
2021 Ridgeline - Technology

Ridgeline Takes Tech Further

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD gets a crisp, new 8.0-inch Display Audio infotainment touchscreen with a physical volume knob, as well as standard Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ integration, Bluetooth® Streaming Audio, Bluetooth® HandsFree Link, and more.

Here, again, the Ranger in base XL trim struggles to keep up with a puny 2.3-inch “Productivity Screen” and only an AM/FM radio. If you want such basics as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Bluetooth® connectivity, you’ll need to upgrade to Ford’s available SYNC® or SYNC 3® technology/infotainment packages or choose a better-equipped (and more expensive) trim level that has more bells and whistles.

Honda has always put a premium on passenger safety. That’s why it offers its exclusive Honda Sensing® suite of active driver-assist technologies as standard equipment on all Honda models. These include 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).

Unlike the Ridgeline, you won’t find any of these active-assist technologies as standard equipment on the base 2021 Ranger XL. Ford’s suite of active safety technologies can be added as an option, however.

Brand-New Ridgeline Easily Beats Aging Ranger

When you add it all up, the all-new, completely redesigned 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD beats Ford’s aging 2021 Ranger XL pickup in just about every way imaginable. So, it’s not surprising that the Ridgeline is ranked in 1st place in the midsize truck category by and, who both rate the 2021 Ford Ranger a distant 5th place.


Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs. Towing requires accessory towing equipment. Please see your Honda dealer for details.