2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. 2021 Nissan Frontier

2021 Honda Ridgeline vs Nissan Frontier

Small or midsize pickup trucks are excellent choices for drivers who require something tough yet versatile enough to make lemonade out of life’s proverbial lemons. That is, when you need to tackle the occasional home improvement project or head out for a weekend camping trip, nothing but a pickup truck will do.

In those situations, you’ve got a few trucks from which to choose. If you’re looking at the Nissan Frontier, you should strongly consider switching to Team Honda. That’s because the 2021 Ridgeline is a far better option if you value convenience, flexibility, and safety.

2021 Ridgeline - Out Truck The Competition

Interior Comfort

The all-too-typical pickup truck is not known to be a haven for passengers. After all, trucks are bought for their payload prowess and cargo-carrying characteristics. But the Honda Ridgeline is busting the myth that pickups can’t be uber-comfy for riders.

Passenger Space

Ridgeline Sport models offer 109.7 cubic feet of passenger volume, 2.7 cubes more than the Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X. That 3% boost equates to less bumped elbows and knees, which should appeal to just about anyone who’s ridden in the back seat of a full truck.

Specs for headroom, legroom and shoulder room, particularly in the back row, also favor the Ridgeline. Compared to the Frontier Crew Cab PRO-4X, Ridgeline Sport offers 3.2 inches more rear shoulder room, 0.2 inches more rear headroom, and a luxurious 3.4 inches more rear legroom.

2021 Ridgeline Sport 2021 Frontier PRO-4X
Passenger Volume 109.7 cu ft 107.0 cu ft
Headroom (front/rear) 40.1 in / 38.8 in 39.1 in / 38.6 in
Legroom (front/rear) 40.9 in / 36.7 in 42.4 in / 33.3 in
Shoulder Room (front/rear) 62.0 in / 61.5 in 58.3 in / 58.3 in

Ridgeline passengers aren’t the only ones who benefit. Starting with the Ridgeline RTL, drivers get a comfortable 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with 2-position memory and power lumbar support. The best the Nissan Frontier can do is an 8-way power adjustable seat, and there’s no memory system.

2021 Ridgeline - Smart Storage

Smart Storage

In addition to Honda Ridgeline’s world-class center storage compartment, you also get one of the most convenient rear seats in the segment. That’s because Ridgeline comes standard with a 2nd-row underseat storage compartment, offering 2.7 cubic feet of space. Best of all, there’s no need to keep the seat cushions up -- simply load your stuff, kick the seats down, and you’re on your way.

Frontier’s King Cab rear seats flip up, allowing you to store items on the floor. But once you’ve got the seats up, that’s where they stay. Although Nissan offers an optional under-seat storage tray accessory, what’s standard on the Frontier can’t compete with the Ridgeline.

Modern Technology

Above all else, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline terrorizes the 2021 Nissan Frontier in the tech department. For all intents and purposes, the new Frontier is an antique horse-drawn carriage compared to the more refined and sophisticated Ridgeline. Here’s what you’ll miss out on if you choose the Frontier:

Wireless Phone Charging

Every 2021 Ridgeline RTL-E and Black Edition comes with a standard wireless phone charger. Frontier makes you plug your smart devices in, like some sort of neanderthal.

2021 Ridgeline - Wireless Phone Charging

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

The Nissan Frontier has yet to welcome Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its suite of tech. It’s a shame, as nearly all new trucks have done so, including the Honda Ridgeline. In fact, the base Ridgeline Sport comes standard with both CarPlay and Auto capability.

2021 Ridgeline - Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

2nd-Row USB Ports

Again, the Ridgeline offers more for rear passengers than the Frontier. While both trucks come with a front USB charging hub, only the 2021 Ridgeline (RTL-E and Black Edition) offers 2 USB ports in the back row.

2021 Ridgeline - 2nd-Row USB Ports

Tri-Zone Climate Control

Every single Ridgeline, from the Sport to the Black Edition trim, includes a standard tri-zone automatic climate control system with humidity control and air filtration. The best the Frontier can do is dual-zone climate, yet again giving rear-seat riders the cold shoulder.

2021 Ridgeline - Tri-Zone Climate Control

Truck Bed

Ah. The bed: The feature that makes or breaks a truck. And for decades, it’s what’s put the Ridgeline on the map as one of the most versatile pickups in America. That hasn’t changed with the 2021 Ridgeline, which offers more bed space and unique features than the rival Frontier.

In-Bed Features

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. While the Nissan Frontier has more towing capability, what it sacrifices for those extra pounds is hardly worth it. Ridgeline beats Frontier in overall creativity thanks to the following exclusive features:

In-Bed Trunk

Sometimes you need a durable, large truck bed. Sometimes you need a secure and covered trunk. With the Ridgeline, you get both. Underneath Ridgeline’s lay-flat bed is a lockable 7.3-cubic-foot trunk, complete with a drain plug. So, whether you use it as a cooler or a place to hold your tools, Ridgeline won’t let you down.

2021 Ridgeline - In-Bed Features

Trunk Bed Audio

Embrace the tunes with Ridgeline’s dedicated truck-bed audio system. Separate from the cabin’s sound system, the in-bed audio system uses speakers that are built into the bed walls, allowing you to make the most of any drive-in theater, tailgate, or landscaping project.

Power Outlet

In addition to the audio system, Ridgeline’s bed also features an available 150-watt/400-watt power outlet. Plug in your TV or power tools, and you’ll be all set.

2021 Ridgeline - In Bed Power Outlet

Dual-Action Tailgate

Open the Frontier tailgate. It drops down. Nothing to see here.

Now, let’s try out the Ridgeline. Open the tailgate. It drops down. Close it again. Now, use the tailgate’s right-side handle. It swings open, like a door, allowing you more room to access the bed’s contents from the ground.


Ridgeline also includes 8 heavy-duty bed tie-downs, each weighted for 350 lbs. The 2021 Frontier can be equipped with Nissan’s Utili-track system, which offers 4 adjustable tie-downs -- but it’s only available on select trims with the pricier Value Truck Package.

2021 Ridgeline - Lay-Flat Truck Bed

Lay-Flat Truck Bed

Ridgeline’s bed was designed to make life easier. With a bed width of 50 inches -- Ridgeline’s bed has virtually no wheel well housing -- and a length of up to 64 in (or 83 inches with the tailgate down), the Honda Ridgeline can store 4’x8’ plywood panels without you having to bust out a tape measure.

The same can’t be said of the Nissan Frontier. You only get 59.5 inches, from cab to tailgate, in the Frontier Crew Cab S, and just 44.4 inches of space between wheel wells.

2021 Ridgeline Sport 2021 Frontier Crew Cab S
Bed Length (tailgate up/down) 64 in / 83 in 59.5 in
Bed Width (between wheel wells) 50 in 44.4 in


Although the Frontier has more towing capacity, Ridgeline takes the prize for payload. With the Ridgeline Sport and its UV-stabilized, scratch-resistant truck bed, you can haul around 1,583 pounds -- 123 pounds more than the Frontier.

2021 Ridgeline Sport 2021 Frontier Crew Cab S
Max Payload 1,583 lbs 1,460 lbs


Nissan Frontier struggles to keep up with Honda Ridgeline in tech and utility, but there’s one department in which it really falters: Safety.

With the 2021 Frontier, Nissan has opted not to install it with Nissan Safety Shield 360. That means the only added protection you get with the Frontier comes from standard airbags, a federally regulated RearView Monitor, an optional Rear Sonar System, and basic cruise control.

Ridgeline doesn’t pull punches here. With every Ridgeline is the full Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist tech. This includes:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System
  • Road Departure Mitigation System
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane Keeping Assist System
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Lane Departure Warning

Standard fare starting with the Ridgeline RTL trim is a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor. Move to the RTL-E or Black Edition Ridgeline, and you’ll get Auto High-Beam Headlights as well as Smart Entry with Walk-Away Auto Locks.