Your Driving Personality Will Determine the Right Mid-Sized Truck

The mid-sized trucks are just about as big as some of the older model half tons
but they’re still efficient and maneuverable and for the most part less expensive.

The Honda Ridgeline is constructed with a strong and highly rigid unibody, which together with the fully independent suspension and torque vectoring all-wheel drive (now standard on the 2021 model) gives it superior on- and off-road handling, and a quiet and comfortable ride.  The critics have long given the Ridgeline a good ranking in the midsize truck category for the ride and handling and for its cabin, but it has also garnered a nearly equal amount of criticism because it looked more like a minivan with a pickup bed than it did a pickup truck and it doesn’t have the off-road capability and true truck-like features of its body-on-frame contenders in the midsize pickup segment.

For 2021, the Ridgeline received substantial styling changes to give it a more squared-off and a more rugged look that better matches its truck capabilities, which include the fact that Ridgeline has a payload capacity of 1,509 to 1,583 pounds and the largest standard bed in its segment. Everything in front of the A-pillar is new, including a taller hood, a larger grille and redesigned headlights.  At the rear is a new bumper design with a dual exhaust. To further toughen up the looks Honda, has brought out a HPD (Honda Performance Development) appearance package, a $2,800 add-on that gives you squared-off fender guards, special graphics and bronze-colored wheels.

All the things that people like about the Ridgeline remain—lots of standard tech features, a dual-hinged tailgate that swings both down and out, a bed with lockable in-bed 7.3 cubic-feet storage compartment that can carry 4-foot-wide objects between the wheel wells, and a 60/40-split rear seat base that flips up so you can stow things on the flat cabin floor.  It also retains a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine putting out 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque with a 9-speed automatic transmission, rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds or 5,000 pounds with upgrades including AWD.  The Ridgeline starts at $37,655 and you can spend up to $43,920 for the Black Edition.


Midsize truck-buyers have two extremes to choose from–The Ridgeline is on one side, and Ranger Tremor or Toyota Tacoma are on the other, exhibiting that the midsize truck segment has something to offer for all types of drivers.

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The Ford Ranger starts at $24,820 with the Tremor package vaulting the price upwards of $42K. If you’re comparing a Ridgeline to a Tremor, your choice will come more down to personality than price, however.   High-strength steel frame and frame-mounted steel bumpers (included on 4×4, FX2 and Tremor) qualify the Ranger as another Built Ford Tough® work truck with payload capacity of 1860 pounds. Ford’s turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine powers the Ranger, generating 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and it’s paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The new SuperCrew four-wheel-drive Ranger with the Tremor Off-Road package gets the adventurous driver revised suspension and underbody protection along with added ground clearance, Fox shocks, 32-inch all-terrain tires, recovery hooks and more. The fatter tires, better shock absorbers and new rear springs help the Ranger ride and handle a little better on-road, too.  Yes, retaining all of that towing and hauling capacity means that the ride is stiffer, but the big bragging point for the Tremor is that, unlike the competitor’s off-road trucks, it doesn’t lose any towing capacity.  Just like all the other Rangers, the Tremor can tow up to 7,500 lbs. when properly equipped and it still has a payload of 1,430 pounds.

Toyota Tacoma is the mid-sizer that Ford is positioning its Ranger Tremor against.  Pricing is comparable between the two contenders.  The Tacoma is not only rugged looking, it’s sometimes criticized for being a little too rugged inside and for its on-road driving manners.  Loyal fans don’t care so much about that. Some choose the Tacoma because it can still be had with a manual transmission, but its serious off-road cred is the number one reason why Tacoma holds its own.  A Tacoma driver’s family members appreciate that it also come standard with Toyota’s suite of Safety Sense driver assist features.   We drove the top-of-the-line TRD Pro with a 3.5-liter V6 making 278 hp and 265 lb-ft. It was loaded with off-road hardware rated to pull up to 6,400 pounds with a payload rating of 1,155 pounds.  While those stats are slightly lower than the Ranger’s, the Tacoma still gets a passing grade on its work duties and an A-plus on its off-road capabilities.