2021 Honda Ridgeline vs. 2021 Toyota Tacoma

2021 Honda Ridgeline vs Toyota Tacoma

Two of the most popular trucks in the hotly contested midsize pickup category are the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma. Which one’s right for you? Let’s put the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD and the 2021 Tacoma SR Double Cab side-by-side to see which one comes out on top.

2021 Ridgeline - Out Truck The Competition


Bold New Design vs Aging Appearance

With completely new sheet metal for 2021, the redesigned Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD looks every bit as rugged and athletic as its Toyota counterpart. The Ridgeline’s broad-shouldered good looks start with a bold new vertical front grille that gives it an aggressive face. This dynamic new styling highlights the Ridgeline’s handsome, rough-and-ready attitude.

On the other hand, the Tacoma is beginning to show its age. As Marty Padgett, Editorial Director of points out: “The 2021 Toyota Tacoma wears its age like a badge of honor. The Tacoma, for the most part, is an unpretentious truck…it’s essentially the same design that bowed in the early years of this century.”

2021 Ridgeline - Styling


Truck Bed Innovation Takes the Prize

When it comes to innovative features and capabilities, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline AWD Sport is miles ahead of Toyota’s Tacoma SR. Car and Driver recently ranked the Ridgeline as their #1 choice among midsized pickups, ahead of the Jeep Gladiator, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Tacoma thanks, in part, to its forward-thinking innovation.

For starters, there’s Ridgeline’s exclusive, available Truck Bed Audio system that transforms the entire truck bed into an epic boombox.

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 Lay-Flat Truck Bed, which can easily accommodate 4-foot-wide items like plywood and drywall.

2021 Ridgeline - Capabilities

The Ridgeline’s convenient and secure lockable In-Bed Trunk® is both waterproof, washable, and drainable. You can even transform it into an ice chest thanks to the implemented drain plug.

2021 Honda Ridgeline
AWD Sport
2021 Toyota Tacoma
SR Double-Cab
Lay-Flat Truck Bed Standard Not Available
Lay-Flat Truck Bed Standard Not Available
Lockable In-Bed Trunk Standard Not Available


Spacious Versatility vs Stale Old Sameness

The redesigned Ridgeline has garnered kudos for its sophisticated, spacious, and comfortable interior. The new Ridgeline’s cabin gets several significant upgrades for 2021, including new cloth-seat inserts and contrast stitching, and an updated Display Audio system.

What hasn’t changed is the Ridgeline’s class-leading versatility, comfort, and roominess. Clever conveniences such as its flat floor and folding 60/40-split rear seat bottoms give the Ridgeline unsurpassed flexibility. There’s even enough room to store a full-size bicycle.

Unfortunately, the Tacoma’s somewhat dreary interior is in sore need of a makeover. That’s why it can’t come close to the Ridgeline’s more accommodating cockpit.

2021 Ridgeline - Interior’s Marty Padgett faults the Tacoma’s stale and cramped interior, saying: “Even crew-cab Tacomas aren’t great at hosting people; the seatback sits too bolt upright like it’s waiting to sit for a deposition. Spelunkers will feel right at home with the low dark roof and slim windows.”

As the table below shows, the Ridgeline Sport AWD’s interior dimensions are bigger than the Tacoma SR Double Cab’s measurements in just about every category:

2021 Honda Ridgeline
AWD Sport
2021 Toyota Tacoma
SR Double-Cab
Front Hiproom 59.1 inches 57.2 inches
Front Shoulder Room 62 inches 58.3 inches
Front Headroom 40.1 inches 39.7 inches
Rear Legroom 36.7 inches 32.6 inches
Rear Hiproom 56.6 inches 56.3 inches
Rear Headroom 38.8 inches 38.3 inches
Rear Shoulder Room 61.5 inches 58.9 inches

Technology & Infotainment

The all-new Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD is equipped with some serious technology upgrades, including an updated 8-inch Display Audio touchscreen with a volume-control knob. It’s easier to see and easier to use. The Ridgeline’s impressive tech features Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ integration, plus Bluetooth® connectivity.

The Tacoma SR offers a smaller, 7-inch touchscreen display, by comparison.

Performance & Handling

And the Winner Is… Honda

Not only does the 2021 Ridgeline Sport AWD feature rugged good looks, but it also has the performance moxie to back up its athletic capabilities. The Ridgeline is powered by a potent, yet fuel-efficient, 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. You’ll also appreciate its excellent fuel efficiency; the AWD Sport model achieves an EPA-estimated* 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway, for a combined 21 mpg.

2021 Ridgeline - The Winner Is

The 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR also features a 3.5-liter V6. But that’s where the similarity stops. By comparison, the Tacoma’s engine pumps out just 278-hp. And you’ll only get a 6-speed automatic transmission; although there is an option for a 6-speed manual. Fuel economy for the Tacoma falls short too, with an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/22 mpg highway, for a combined 20 mpg overall.

2021 Honda Ridgeline
AWD Sport
2021 Toyota Tacoma
SR Double-Cab
Horsepower 280 hp @ 6000 rpm 278 hp @ 6000 rpm
EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy 18 city/24 highway/21 combined mpg 18 city/22 highway/20 combined mpg

In terms of handling, the Ridgeline receives high marks for its “car-like” demeanor, thanks largely to its sharing its structure with the smooth-driving Honda Pilot. The Tacoma, however, gets dinged for a ride quality that’s bouncy and harsh.

As Marty Padgett says: “The Tacoma’s ride bucks and bounces on all versions…on any urban grid the Tacoma will leave you shaken.”

As far as off-road capability, you might think that the Tacoma would easily take the prize. Not so fast. Car and Driver recently tested the 2021 Ridgeline Sport against the 2021 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab. Both vehicles were put through extensive off-road and payload tests, and in every instance the Ridgeline came out ahead. The Ridgeline bested the Tacoma in speed, handling, and stability with superior control and faster average times. Sounds like a no-brainer.

Beats Tacoma Hands Down

Whether its performance, handling, off-road capability, versatility, or innovation, the new 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport AWD beats the 2021 Toyota Tacoma SR Double Cab hands down.

But don’t take our word for it. Take the word of the experts, who rank the new Ridgeline at the top of the midsize pickup charts. In addition to Car and Driver’s top-tier accolades, ranks the Ridgeline #1 in pickup trucks, with the Tacoma coming in a disappointing 9th place.

Who are we to argue with the experts?


18 city/24 highway/21 combined mpg rating. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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