Did the Honda Ridgeline Copy off of the Pilot’s Paper?

The Honda Ridgeline is the compact pickup sibling of the popular Pilot SUV. Both vehicles are notably similar, with good reason. Little more than a truck bed and a few bells and whistles differentiate the two. Which of these siblings should drivers choose? In the end, it may come down to seating capacity.

How is the Honda Ridgeline different than the Pilot?

A red Honda Pilot SUV on display
Honda Pilot | Bill Pugliano via Getty Images

The Honda Ridgeline is an upscale compact pickup truck that’s surprisingly family-friendly. This truck comfortably seats five in its high-quality interior. USB charging ports make it easy to power devices on the go, and WiFi keeps kids connected and entertained. Clever storage solutions help keep kids’ gear organized.

This truck isn’t just comfortable for the whole family. It’s also safe. It earned an NHTSA top safety pick with favorable crash test ratings across the board. Surprisingly, the Ridgeline outperforms the Pilot in safety ratings, but by a narrow margin.

The Ridgeline is more than a family truck. It’s also built to work, as long as towing isn’t a requirement. At just 5,000 pounds, the Ridgeline isn’t winning any awards for its towing capacity. This is the only truck in its class that can accommodate 4×8 sheets of plywood, sheetrock, or other building materials.

How do the Honda Pilot and the Ridgeline compare?

In short, these two vehicles have more in common than they have differences. Both are built on the same platform and share the same 3.5-L V6 engine. The Ridgeline’s engine is paired with an eight-speed manual transmission, while the Pilot has a nine-speed automatic. The Ridgeline gets 2 gallons less per mile city than its SUV sibling.

Their shared towing capacity fares differently for each body style. 5,000 pounds is a decent maximum for an SUV, but it fails to impress for a compact truck. Neither of these Hondas are particularly well suited to off-roading, but the Ridgeline performs slightly better on the trail.

Both the Ridgeline and Pilot offer nearly identical cabin styles. This means passengers are equally comfortable in either as each provides the same smooth ride. The Pilot can accommodate eight passengers, three more than the Ridgeline.

Which one should you buy?

Honda Ridgeline interior | Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Buyers choosing between these two Hondas have a difficult job ahead of them. Both are relatively safe, but the Ridgeline scores slightly higher with the NHTSA. Each can seat the typical family, with the Pilot accommodating larger groups.

The Ridgeline could serve as a family vehicle and a work truck. Its towing capacity isn’t appropriate for heavy-duty jobs, but its bed can accommodate building materials better than other trucks its size. These two vehicles seem to have one significant difference, and that’s who they are marked to.

The Honda Pilot has a few more family-centered features, such as its seating capacity and infotainment system. The Ridgeline is just as comfortable for the five passengers it seats but has features geared toward the job site. When choosing between these two, buyers need to ask themselves if a truck bed and seating for three fewer people are worth a nearly $5,000 price hike for the Ridgeline.

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