Is the 2021 Jeep Gladiator Really a Worse Truck Than the 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

 Rating trucks is kind of a hard thing to do. The applications for these vehicles are varied and can get extremely specific. So rating which is better or worse can be tough unless you know what someone will use it for. So, for the purposes of this writing, we are talking about every day driving and some aspects of work. With that being said, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline rated higher than the 2021 Jeep Gladiator

The Honda Ridgeline and the Jeep Gladiator are priced the same

Both trucks start around $33,000 and top off around $43,000. The funny thing about these two pickup trucks is that they really aren’t very comparable, but are priced the same. More to the point is even though neither of them are very traditional examples of pickups, they both top Consumer Reports list of best compact pickups. So, they are both a bit odd, they cost the same, and both aren’t that popular. But is the Honda really better than the Jeep? 

CR gave the Jeep an overall score of 65. Compared to other popular pickups, the Jeep actually ranks really highly. The Ram 1500 and the Toyota Tundra both got an overall score of 63, for reference. Meanwhile, the Honda Ridgeline runs away with it, scoring an 80 overall. Let’s take a quick look at each truck to see what’s what. 

Is the Honda Ridgeline a good truck?

According to Consumer Reports, it is. I was a little shocked to see this truck I had all but forgotten about getting the highest score for any truck on CR. It is not your typical truck, though. In spirit, it really feels closer to an SUV or even El Camino. I know it sounds weird, but if you look at the specs, it might make more sense. 

2021 Honda Ridgeline driving on dirt road
2021 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

The Honda Ridgeline doesn’t really have any of the typical buzz words we associate with pickup trucks. It has independent front and rear suspension rather than the more rugged solid axle. It has a short, shallow bed and can only tow 5,000 lbs. 

The Honda pickup is fitted with a 3.5-liter V6. CR calls the power delivery of the V6 “ as smooth and refined as they come.” The 2021 Ridgeline can hit a 0-60-mph sprint in just over 7 seconds. It won’t break any land speed records, but it’s no slouch. Also, at 20 mpg, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline is pretty earth and wallet-friendly. Overall it is a smooth and easy to own pickup that is ideal for many drivers but rarely the right choice for anyone who needs their truck to work for them.   

Is the 2021 Jeep Gladiator a good truck?

Basically, the Jeep Gladiator is a Wrangler with a truck bed slapped on. Jeep lengthened the wheelbase to make room for the bed and allow for decent towing capacity. As tested by CR, the Jeep Gladiator has a 3.7-liter V6 making 260 hp, but a 3.0-liter diesel is also available. The Jeep can tow up to 7,650 lbs at its strongest, which for a compact pickup is not so bad. 

2021 Jeep Gladiator mudding on steep trail
2021 Jeep Gladiator | Jeep

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The Jeep Gladiator is an overlander than you can drive to the store 

For better or worse, the Jeep Gladiator is a Wrangler. It shares basically all the strengths as weaknesses that have always surrounded the Wrangler. The ride is rough and bouncy, the cabin is fairly stark and loud, and the on-road handling is clumsy and cumbersome. But, if you start to do Jeep things with it, the Gladiator will turn that frown upsidedown. The Jeep Gladiator’s off-road prowess is unrivaled in this category. It looks super cool and very unique compared to other trucks like a Ranger or even the Ridgeline, for that matter. The final nail in the coffin of the Jeep’s coolness is that it still comes as a six-speed manual, bay bay! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Yklda7ORn0

There is nothing comfortable or luxurious about the Jeep Gladiator. It isn’t very efficient or practical, but it isn’t really meant to be. Jeeps are meant to go off-road and wear a fresh coat of mud. They are fun, not practical. 

So, what is the best truck? 

I hate to be so dodgy and non-committal with you, dear reader, but the answer is completely up to you. I can say, objectively, the Honda Ridgeline is likely the better truck to live with on a day-to-day basis. It is smoother, more comfortable, more reliable, and easier to drive, but (and this is a big “but”) if you enjoy driving and want to do more truck things, the Jeep will most definitely put a bigger smile on your face. It’s hard to fight a Jeep when you’re smiling.