The 2021 Honda Ridgeline Is Much More Pragmatic Than the Toyota Tacoma in Real Life

I have had the privilege to drive a few different iterations of the Toyota Tacoma over the past year and I currently have the 2021 Honda Ridgeline. Both pick-up trucks are amazing in their own right and buyers really can’t go wrong with either of them. However, after experiencing both mid-size trucks and comparing the two in my real-world testing, I have come to the conclusion that one is a much more pragmatic choice than the other.

1. The Honda Ridgeline is more comfortable to drive on-road

a front three-quarter shot of the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport HPD
2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport HPD | Joe Santos

Don’t get me wrong, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma is a beast off-road. I have had the honor of driving a TRD Pro (auto and manual) as well as a Tacoma TRD Off-Road with the TRD lift kit and I’m happy to report that they all did well when the pavement turned into dirt. That being said, the 2021 Ridgeline is still more comfortable to drive on-road.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Ridgeline’s unibody structure and independent rear suspension make for an Odyssey-like driving experience around town and on the highway. The Tacoma, on the other hand, always felt like I was going off-road even when I was driving across a parking lot.

2021 Toyota Tacoma Off Road with TRD Lift kit
2021 Toyota Tacoma Off Road with TRD Lift kit | Joe Santos

2. The Ridgeline has plenty of storage options that the Tacoma does not have

2021 Honda Ridgeline rear seat storage
2021 Honda Ridgeline rear seat storage | Honda

RELATED: Is the Honda Ridgeline a Pickup Truck?

If you’re researching these two trucks, then you have probably heard repeatedly that the Honda Ridgeline has some nifty storage solutions. There’s a large cubby space in the center console, a rear seat cushion that folds up for taller cargo, in addition to an in-bed trunk that can fit a few packs of Costco toilet paper. The Ridgeline also has a dual-opening tailgate that can swing out or fold down.

By comparison, the Tacoma does have the option for a larger bed size (six feet vs. Ridgeline’s five-foot bed), however, it doesn’t have the same type of party tricks that the Ridgeline does when it comes to extra storage. In the Tacoma, you’ll mainly get a large center storage area and a glovebox in which to store your stuff. But again, the Ridgeline has those too.

3. There are fewer trim levels to choose from

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro in the snow
2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Joe Santos

When it comes to shopping for trucks, the fewer options the better. Don’t believe me? Check out the multitude of options on a Ford F-150 or Chevy Colorado – there’s enough to make your head spin. Toyota and Honda like to make things easy for their buyers. As such, there are only five trim levels to choose from for the Tacoma and only four for the Ridgeline — Sport, RTL, RTL-E, and Black Edition.

Sure, there’s only one less trim to choose from on the Ridgeline, however, that means that Honda value-packed its truck as much as possible. So whichever trim you choose, you know you’re getting the most value for it and it shows. Even the base Ridgeline comes with all of the driver-assist features you need, for example, and has a starting price of $36,890. But if you want everything on your Ridgeline, including a leather interior and an aggressive black motif, then the top-trim Black Edition will set you back $44,320.

4. The HPD package adds a uniquely aggressive touch

2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD Wheel
2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD Wheel | Joe Santos

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for special packages. The 2021 Ridgeline can now be equipped with an HPD package that includes fender flares, a sportier front grille, HPD decals, and emblems, as well as some really cool-looking 18-inch bronze wheels. I know it’s not as rugged as the TRD package that comes on the Tacoma, but the HPD package does add a welcome aggressive touch to the more sedate Ridgeline.

5. There’s only one engine choice for the Ridgeline

2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD rear shot in a field
2021 Honda Ridgeline HPD | Joe Santos

Lastly, if you’re looking for a “set it and forget it” type of deal, then the 2021 Honda Ridgeline should grab your attention. Unlike the Tacoma, it comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and all-wheel drive. That means that you don’t have to worry about which trim level is right for you, or which engine works best. Instead, Honda gives you a stout and reliable V6 that produces 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque and gets the truck up to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, according to MotorTrend. I hope you like it, I know I did.

Just note, it doesn’t get the best fuel economy. The EPA rates the Ridgeline’s fuel efficiency at 18 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. In my mixed driving conditions plus a mile-high elevation, I achieved an average of 15 mpg for the week.

2021 Honda Ridgeline versus the Toyota Tacoma

If you’re shopping between these two trucks, then these five points should at least give you some insight on which truck is more useful for the daily drive. If you need off-road prowess and on-road aggressiveness, then the Tacoma could be for you. However, if you need something more pragmatic and comfortable on and off the road – while sacrificing some off-road prowess – then the choice is clear: Honda Ridgeline.

RELATED: Wait, the Toyota Tacoma Is Worse than the Honda Ridgeline?