Deciding which pickup truck to buy can be nothing short of a challenge. When looking for a Honda Ridgeline for sale, you might encounter other pickups that seem attractive, but are they as reliable and durable as the Ridgeline?
The Ridgeline isn’t like most other pickups. Instead of the typical body-on-frame construction, Honda gives the Ridgeline a unibody construction. This results in a much more comfortable ride than what you find in traditional body-on-frame midsize pickups. You might think you’re driving a SUV and not a pickup when you take the Ridgeline out for a spin.
Of course, other automakers design their rivaling trucks to be comfy and refined, too. One such automaker is Nissan. Having just redesigned the Frontier for the 2023 lineup, this midsize pickup offers a smoother ride quality than ever before. With some updated technology in tow, the Frontier makes for a strong contender, but is it strong enough to best the Ridgeline?
It is time to dive in and find out. Let’s break down these two competitors in terms of four major aspects: performance, interior and exterior designs, tech gadgets, and safety features and ratings. This should give you a better clue as to which vehicle is the better option for you.
Performance is a major reason why buyers choose certain pickup trucks. Generally speaking, pickup truck shoppers want something that is ruggedly athletic with strong off-roading capabilities, a decent payload capacity, and high maximum towing ratings. Of course, they also want something that performs well on the beaten path when unladen.
The Honda Ridgeline puts in a strong performance, both on and off the beaten path. All four trim levels (the base Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition) are powered by the same V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. This engine musters up 280 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This power gets delivered to all four wheels via Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management (i-VTM4) system. Although the Ridgeline lacks a traditional four-wheel-drive transfer case with low range, its full-time all-wheel-drive system with intelligent traction control included for snow, sand, and mud makes the Ridgeline able to traverse many different terrains, and handle slick wintery roadways with ease. Plus, full-time all-wheel drive makes the Ridgeline more sure-footed in everyday driving conditions. You don’t have to manually engage it the way you do on a four-wheel-drive Frontier, if it’s even equipped with this option.
The EPA estimates that the Ridgeline’s V6 engine can get about 21 miles per gallon in combined driving, with it getting 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The truck’s 19.5-gallon fuel tank only requires that you use regular unleaded gasoline. No expensive premium fuel is required.
What’s more, the Ridgeline has strong towing and hauling capabilities. It comes with an integrated Class III trailer hitch with a seven-pin connector. Towing capacity maxes out at 5,000 pounds. Pulling a trailer is not a hassle, given how well-equipped the Ridgeline is for towing.
As far as the Nissan Frontier goes, there are quite a few configurations to choose from, including multiple cab options and the choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. A 3.6L V6 engine delivers 310 horsepower and 281 lb-ft of torque, and like the Honda is paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission. This comes with an EPA estimate of 24 mpg in combined driving, which matches the Ridgeline’s V6. However, if you equip 4WD instead of RWD, estimates drop to 22 mpg combined. Also, the steering system might have a heavy feel to it, and that requires a lot of effort on the driver’s part. The Frontier’s towing capacity of 6,690 pounds beats out the Ridgeline, but both are perfectly fine for most drivers’ needs.
Interior and Exterior Designs
Inside and out, Honda designs the Ridgeline to be aesthetically pleasing. The Ridgeline’s exterior features include LED projector low-beam headlights with auto on/off and LED taillights. The dual-action tailgate offers some versatility, and there is additional secure storage in the cleverly crafted in-bed trunk. There are also eight heavy-duty truck bed tie-down cleats and bed lights to help you see in the dark. The power side mirrors match the body color and, on the three higher trim levels, have heating, memory, and integrated turn indicators. The higher trims also come with a moonroof and power-sliding rear window.
Inside the Ridgeline’s cabin you will find many creature comforts. The multifunctional center console has a deep enough storage bin to hold your valuables. Heat can reach rear seat occupants thanks to thoughtfully placed ducts, and a tri-zone automatic climate control system is standard issue. The RTL trim gains an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The RTL-E and Black Edition both get front-row courtesy door lights and illuminated front beverage holders. Ambient lighting is included, but the RTL-E’s is blue while the Black Edition’s is red.
The Ridgeline seats five, with its two front seats and 60/40-split rear seat complete with handy underseat storage. The 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat has power lumbar support and, on all but the base trim, two-position memory. Upgrading to the RTL also nabs luxurious leather upholstery and a heating function for the front seats.
The Nissan Frontier has some similar features, but does not quite go to the extent Honda does in terms of design. Dual-zone automatic climate control is relegated to higher trim levels, as are Remote Engine Start and a Push Button Ignition. Overall, the cabin lacks the luxurious feel you get on the Ridgeline, since so many features are reserved for the higher trim levels.
Let’s face it, much of our lives are lived online these days. We want to be as connected as possible, even while we are on the go. That is why Honda outfits the Ridgeline with such a massive array of helpful tech features. A seven-speaker sound system is standard equipment, and it comes with its own subwoofer. You can choose to upgrade to a 540-watt eight-speaker sound system instead. Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and audio streaming are included with each trim level, and everything can be accessed using the eight-inch infotainment touchscreen display. You can sync your smartphone using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to use your favorite apps in the car.
The RTL trim adds SiriusXM connectivity, and the RTL-E adds HD Radio, Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation with Honda HD Digital Traffic and Voice Recognition, a wireless charger, and a truck-bed audio system. That way when you’re going to a tailgate party, you can enjoy your favorite tunes from the truck bed.
Nissan does its best to keep up with Honda in terms of in-vehicle technology. There is a standard eight-inch infotainment display, and a nine-inch option on higher trims. Voice Recognition is standard issue, and Wi-Fi hotspot is available for higher trim levels. You will have to upgrade far up the trim level ladder to gain a wireless device charger and other features that are standard equipment on the Ridgeline.
Safety Features and Ratings
Safety is often a top priority for those looking to buy a new vehicle. Honda meets consumer demands with its Honda Sensing bundle of advanced driver aids. In this bundle, you get a long list of standard driver assist functions that are known to work pretty well. These features include:
- Collision Mitigation Braking System
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Road Departure Mitigation System
- Lane Keeping Assist System
- Forward Collision Warning
- Lane Departure Warning
- Automatic High-Beam Headlights
- Blind Spot Information System (BSI) with a Cross Traffic Monitor (on the RTL and above)
- Front and rear parking sensors (on the RTL-E and Black Edition)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) assigns the 2023 Ridgeline a five-star overall rating, as it performed well on each of NHTSA’s crash safety tests. Furthermore, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Ridgeline mostly “Good” ratings on its crashworthiness tests. Its front crash prevention system is rated as “Superior,” the highest available rating. However, the Ridgeline’s headlights only get a “Marginal” rating across all trim levels.
On the Nissan Frontier, you get a good amount of standard driver aids. Cruise control is standard, but intelligent cruise control is an option. Lane Departure Warning, Blind-Spot Warning, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are optional, too. Overall, there just aren’t as many standard driver aids as what you get on the Ridgeline.
NHTSA has not tested the 2023 Nissan Frontier, but the 2022 model earned a four-star overall rating. The IIHS gives the Frontier some lower scores. Its headlights are rated as either “Acceptable” or “Poor,” depending on the trim level. The S with Technology and SV with Technology have low beams that produce some glare, and the high beams do not provide adequate lighting on both sides of the road when on the straightaway. Once again, the upgraded headlights are reserved for higher trim levels.
The Final Verdict: Honda Ridgeline Is the Best Value
Pound for pound, the Honda Ridgeline is the better option for most drivers. While the Nissan Frontier is not a bad truck–in fact, it is much better than the previous model, which was well overdue for an update–the Ridgeline has multiple advantages. The Ridgeline is far better loaded with features, both in terms of tech gadgets and safety features. Honda seems to always be thinking about how to craft a vehicle that will have mass appeal.
The Ridgeline is one tough truck. It can get over all kinds of terrain while still being a capable family hauler, just like other Hondas on the market. The Ridgeline has an athletic appeal that is balanced out by practicality. The amount of features you get for the price gives the Ridgeline even more value, certainly more than what the Nissan Frontier has to offer. That is why the Honda Ridgeline is the pickup to pick.