Our new comparison chart between the 2016 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Doublecab 4x4 and the 2017 Honda Ridgeline Sport shows that, while the Tacoma has some positives, the Honda is the next great thing in the compact truck market.
First, let's give the Toyota Tacoma credit for the following:
- It's a great truck for going off-road, at least if we're talking about attacking rugged rock strewn trails.
- It can tow a more than the Ridgeline (when properly configured)
- It's cheaper than the Ridgeline
Now, let's talk about why these things don't matter:
- Most people buying compact trucks don't take them on rugged rock-strewn trails. For most "off-road" is tackling some mud, some sand, maybe a washed out dirt road...pretty mild stuff that any AWD vehicle can handle.
- If you're buying a truck to tow something, and you're willing to spend $30k to do it, you're probably going to buy a full-size truck. Ford and Ram practically give away F-150s and 1500s that can tow 10k lbs+, and people who need towing are going to go that route.
- Quality costs money. The Ridgeline is more refined than the Tacoma, and it shows in terms of superior ride quality, handling, and interior sound levels.
Here's a chart that will summarize just how similar the Tacoma and the Ridgeline are:
Off-Road Ability Is Overplayed
Toyota loves to market the Tacoma's off-roading ability. They use clever images like this one:
Look at how that Tacoma drives over rocks! Isn't it amazing? (sarcasm). Image courtesy partsblog.olathetoyota.com.
And they hope that gets consumers to buy. But here's the thing: Very few people are going to take their brand new, $35k pickup over a trail like this. No matter how rugged a truck is, off-road trails like the one shown above put a lot of wear and tear on a vehicle. Most new truck buyers want to make their truck last as long as possible. That means avoiding the kinds of trails Toyota features in their advertising.
What's more, the Ridgeline is no slouch off-road. A quick YouTube search shows dozens of videos of first-generation Ridgeline owners getting nasty in the dirt.
Ridgeline Quality Is The Difference
We're not going to say that Toyota makes cheap, unreliable vehicles. That is obviously untrue. Toyota quality is excellent, perhaps second only to Honda quality.
However, the Tacoma isn't exactly Toyota's "premium" truck. PickupTrucks.com talks about the Tacoma's use of rear drum brakes. Drum brakes are an old technology that just doesn't belong on a new vehicle in 2016. The Ridgeline uses discs at all four wheels, like just about every other new vehicle available.
The early reviews of the 2017 Ridgeline describe the interior as "upscale" and a "step above" what you find in similar trucks. Automobile Magazine describes the 2017 Ridgeline as being in a class by itself. The review brags about the Ridgeline's superior ride, handling, noise levels, and more.
The point? The Ridgeline isn't some rough-riding commercial vehicle with nice styling and clever marketing. It's a high quality alternative to every truck on the market. While it might cost a little more, it offers a LOT more in terms of features, comfort, and daily driveability.
Not to mention, it's got an exceedingly cool trunk in the bed.