Autotrader: The 2021 Jeep Gladiator vs. 2021 Honda Ridgeline: 2 midsize pickups compared


The 2021 Jeep Gladiator offers Jeep capabilities with a pickup bed while the 2021 Honda

Ridgeline includes a strong legacy of reliability. Which is better?

Quick facts 
  • Jeep Gladiator: Functionality of a pickup with the looks of a Wrangler.
  • Honda Ridgeline: Increased capability; new looks.
2021 Jeep Gladiator
The Jeep Gladiator


2021 Jeep Gladiator Base Price: $35,040

What we like: A true off-road vehicle; convertible roof; a pickup truck with near class-leading towing capacity.

What we would change: solid axles make a rough ride; boxy interior; plenty of road noise.

Overview: The 2021 Jeep Gladiator offers the functionality of a pickup truck with the look and toughness of a Jeep Wrangler. It is a typical midsize truck player with four-door body, a 5-foot bed and seating for five.

What’s new for 2021: Now available with a diesel engine; full-time 4WD with low range gearing; 80th Anniversary and Willys versions join the lineup.

Features and technology: Every Gladiator comes with four-wheel drive, a 5-foot bed, a removable top, and a fold-down windshield. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 making 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard while an 8-speed automatic is also available. A 260 hp 3.0-liter diesel V6 is optional in Sport, Overland, and Rubicon models. Generating 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, it is available solely with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Step up in the lineup from the base Sport model and receive power windows, 18-inch wheels in the Overland. Move to the Rubicon to receive an electronic locking differential, Fox off-road shocks, part-time 4×4, and much more.

What does the future hold? Expect mild refreshes for the next couple of years because the Gladiator is a relatively new vehicle. 

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2021 Honda Ridgeline

2021 Honda Ridgeline Standard Crew Cab starting price: $36,000 EST

What we like: Quick acceleration from smooth V6 power; refined ride; roomy standard crew cab; multifunction tailgate; in-bed trunk.

What we would change: Not for deep woods off-roading; FWD tows 3,500 pounds; AWD is 5,000-pound tow-capable.

Overview: The 2021 Honda Ridgeline features one of the smoothest rides in the segment. Some capabilities are less than other midsize rigs, but the Ridgeline is a fuel-efficiency leader. Seriously, though, we would feel guilty getting it dirty.

What’s new for 2021: The 2021 Ridgeline is new from the windshield pillars forward. A new Honda Performance Development (HPD) package tarts up the appearance a bit, with flared fenders, a blacked-out grille, and new 18-inch wheels. Small changes inside include a revised infotainment system.

Features and technology: The Honda Ridgeline is fresh with a restyling for 2021. Power is delivered by an award-winning 3.5-liter 280-hp V6 engine producing 262 lb-ft of torque. This Honda’s standard nine-speed automatic transmission delivers power to the front-wheel-drive system, while AWD is an available option. Ridgeline jumps off the line quickly and scores similar mileage that other midsize trucks get from a diesel powerplant.

This truck is well-behaved thanks to its unibody construction with coil spring independent rear suspension. This helps it drive like a car or SUV rather than a body-on-frame truck. That’s also one of the reasons this Honda is less robust off-road than some of its heartier competitors.

Inside an 8-inch touchscreen display along with Apple

CarPlay and Android Auto bring the party. Specific models can be ordered with an in-bed audio system which will liven up any tailgate party.

What the future holds: Unconfirmed rumors suggest a Ridgeline Hybrid might appear later in 2021 as a 2022 model. 

See: These midsize trucks get the best mileage

Gladiator vs. Ridgeline: strengths comparison

Jeep Gladiator benefits: True off-road capability with a pickup bed behind you

Honda Ridgeline benefits: Carlike ride; very comfortable interior; decent fuel efficiency

2021 Jeep Gladiator vs 2021 Honda Ridgeline: Which is better?

They are almost catering to two different buyers. A Gladiator owner is going to play hard and get it dirty before the day is done, while a Ridgeline owner is thinking of urban or suburban pursuits instead. For all its capability, our choice is the 2021 Jeep Gladiator.

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