Trucks & SUVs

Consumer Reports Only Recommends 2 Pickup Trucks For 2021

In the U.S., trucks are too popular to simply call popular. The Ford F-150 remains one of the best-selling, not only trucks but vehicles overall the U.S. has ever known. Even though this fact will likely remain true for a very long time to come, Consumer Reports very rarely gives any pickup truck the “recommended” checkmark. For 2021, the only two trucks to be deemed good enough for CR were the 2021 Honda Ridgeline and the 2021 Jeep Gladiator.

What makes the 2021 Honda Ridgeline and 2021 Jeep Gladiator so special? 

Consumer Reports reviews cars and trucks with an eye so scrutinous that trucks can rarely get through unscathed. CR doesn’t care if something is cool, purpose-built, or otherwise specific to a need; they review everything as equals. This makes their info very helpful in that its objectivity can hardly be questioned. 

This is proven in the results of the Honda Ridgeline and Jeep Gladiator CR scores. CR gives anything that scores a 65/100 or higher the “recommended” label. The Honda Ridgeline tops the trucks by a country mile with an overall score of 80/100. The Jeep Gladiator comes second overall with a 65/100, just squeaking across the recommended threshold. 

Is the 2021 Honda Ridgeline a good truck? 

According to Consumer Reports, it’s the best truck. The thing that most truck people hate about the Ridgeline is precisely what CR liked about it. CR says that the Ridgeline is the most “car-like” pickup of them all. Most folks are looking for that in a truck, but CR digs comfort and economy. 

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E parked in an open plain in front of trees.
The 2021 Honda Ridgeline | Honda Ridgeline

RELATED: The Real Reason the 2021 Honda Ridgeline Should Be More Popular

The Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 is smooth and refined in a way that most pickup trucks can’t compete. According to CR, unlike many torquey, jerky pickups, the Honda’s power delivery is smooth and linear. The 280-hp V6 can carry the truck from 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds and tows 5,000 pounds.

Compared to Jeep Gladiator or really any other pickups of a similar size, this tow limit is a bit small. However, that is not really what the Ridgeline is about. The Honda pickup is all about a reliable, economical, and comfortable truck for everyday life. The only real bad mark the Honda got was for fuel economy. 20 mpg isn’t actually bad for the segment, but it fell around the middle. 

Is the 2021 Jeep Gladiator a good truck?

The Jeep didn’t score nearly as well because it is more of a traditional truck in specific ways. The Jeep Gladiator is still stiff, tall, crude at times, and slightly less fuel-efficient than the Honda Ridgeline, but it holds it down just enough to stay in CR’s good graces.

The Jeep Gladiator clearly is meant for a different type of customer than the Honda. The Jeep Gladiator is sticking with the more adventurous motorists who might need a pickup for overlanding or some light work. The Jeep comes with a similar 3.0-liter V6 making 260 hp and a diesel option that makes slightly less power but nearly double the torque for hauling and heavy rock crawling. 

A red 2021 Jeep Gladiator sits atop of rocks.
New 2021 Jeep Gladiator EcoDiesel | FCA

RELATED: The Next Jeep Gladiator Model Is a No Brainer

The Gladiator sits more in the typical truck territory with things like a rough and stiff ride due to its off-road suspension. A heavy package makes the fuel-economy suffer at 18 mpg, and the interior is spartan compared to the Ridgeline. 

The Jeep will likely only become more popular as the model progresses with the addition of more modern engine options, like hybrids and monster V8s. The Gladiator will probably go the way of the Wrangler; it’s not the most practical or best vehicle, but it will be the only thing that will scratch the itch for a specific type of person. 

Maybe other trucks will join the Consumer Reports recommended list

Currently, these are the only two trucks that CR can stand behind, but with the resurgence of mid-size trucks, a new movement of refined and efficient pickups may come our way. We have already seen how hunger consumers are for electric trucks. That will likely be the catalyst that starts the renaissance of the pickup truck.