2020 Honda Ridgeline vs. 2019 Nissan Frontier

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/21

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the Ridgeline deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The Ridgeline’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The Frontier’s side airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The Ridgeline has standard Collision Mitigation Braking System, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Frontier doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

Full-time four-wheel drive is optional on the Ridgeline. Full-time four-wheel drive gives added traction for safety in all conditions, not just off-road, like the only system available on the Frontier.

The Honda Ridgeline has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Frontier doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Ridgeline’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Frontier doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition has standard Parking Sensors to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The Frontier doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The Frontier doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Frontier doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the Ridgeline uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Frontier uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the Ridgeline and the Frontier have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and rearview cameras.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Honda Ridgeline is safer than the Frontier Crew Cab:

Ridgeline

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

222

313

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

24 cm

32 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.3/.1 kN

.6/3.3 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.36/.54

1.77/1.37

Tibia forces R/L

1.6/.4 kN

4.7/1.8 kN

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the general design of front seat head restraints for their ability to protect front seat occupants from whiplash injuries. The IIHS also performs a dynamic test on those seats with “good” or “acceptable” geometry. In these ratings, the Ridgeline with standard seats is safer than the Frontier:

Ridgeline

Frontier

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Restraint Design

GOOD

GOOD

Distance from Back of Head

36 mm

44 mm

Distance Below Top of Head

34 mm

48 mm

Dynamic Test Rating

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Seat Design

Pass

Pass

Torso Acceleration

10.9 g’s

12.4 g’s

Neck Force Rating

Low

Medium

Max Neck Shearing Force

10

152

Max Neck Tension

367

645

(Lower numerical results are better in all tests.)

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Ridgeline the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 106 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Frontier was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Reliability

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The engine in the Ridgeline has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the Frontier have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Ridgeline has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Frontier’s standard 110-amp alternator and largest (V6) 130-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

Engine

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The Ridgeline’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 128 more horsepower (280 vs. 152) and 91 lbs.-ft. more torque (262 vs. 171) than the Frontier’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Ridgeline’s 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 19 more horsepower (280 vs. 261) than the Frontier’s optional 4.0 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Ridgeline gets better fuel mileage than the Frontier:

MPG

Ridgeline

FWD

Auto

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

4WD

Auto

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/24 hwy

Frontier

RWD

Manual

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

19 city/23 hwy

4.0 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

17 city/22 hwy

4.0 DOHC V6

16 city/23 hwy

4WD

Manual

4.0 DOHC V6

16 city/21 hwy

Auto

4.0 DOHC V6

15 city/21 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Ridgeline’s fuel efficiency. The Frontier doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Ridgeline’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Frontier doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Ridgeline has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Frontier doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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The Honda Ridgeline comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Frontier.

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Honda Ridgeline, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a five-speed automatic is available for the Frontier.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Ridgeline’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Frontier:

Ridgeline

Frontier 4-cyl.

Frontier V6

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.1 inches

11.7 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.3 inches

11.3 inches

The Ridgeline stops much shorter than the Frontier:

Ridgeline

Frontier

70 to 0 MPH

181 feet

199 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

134 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

142 feet

156 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Ridgeline has larger tires than the Frontier (245/60R18 vs. 235/75R15).

The Ridgeline’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Frontier S King Cab’s standard 75 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Ridgeline has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Frontier S King Cab.

The Ridgeline has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Frontier doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Honda Ridgeline has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Frontier has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

The Ridgeline has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Ridgeline flat and controlled during cornering. The Frontier’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The front and rear suspension of the Ridgeline uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the Frontier, which uses leaf springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Ridgeline is 4.4 inches wider in the front and 4.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Frontier.

The Ridgeline Black Edition handles at .79 G’s, while the Frontier PRO-4X King Cab 4WD pulls only .72 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

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The Ridgeline is 9.4 inches shorter than the Frontier Long Bed Crew Cab, making the Ridgeline easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Unibody construction makes the Ridgeline’s chassis much stiffer, which contributes to better handling, and enables softer springs to be used for a better ride. Unibody construction’s stiffness also contributes to better durability and less body squeaks and rattles. The Frontier doesn’t use unibody construction, but a body-on-frame design.

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the Ridgeline has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The Frontier uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

The Ridgeline uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Frontier doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Ridgeline has 8.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Frontier Crew Cab (109.7 vs. 101.1).

Cargo Capacity

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The Ridgeline has a much larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab short bed (33.9 vs. 27.1 cubic feet). The Ridgeline has a larger cargo box than the Frontier Crew Cab long bed (33.9 vs. 33.5 cubic feet).

Payload

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The Ridgeline has a much higher standard payload capacity than the Frontier:

Ridgeline

Frontier

Crew Cab

1465 lbs.

1460 lbs.

Crew Cab 4WD

1580 lbs.

1130 lbs.

The Ridgeline AWD has a much higher optional payload capacity than the Frontier Short Bed Crew Cab 4WD (1580 vs. 1360 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

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The Ridgeline has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Frontier doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A Maintenance Minder is standard on the Ridgeline to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement, tire rotation, radiator flush, brake pad replacement and transmission fluid replacement based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Nissan doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Frontier.

Ergonomics

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The Ridgeline offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Frontier doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The engine computer on the Ridgeline disables the starter while the engine is running. The Frontier’s starter can be accidentally engaged while the engine is running, making a grinding noise and possibly damaging the starter and ring gear.

The Ridgeline’s standard tilting steering column adjusts to different sized drivers and makes entering and exiting easier. Nissan doesn’t offer tilt steering on the Frontier S King Cab.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Ridgeline has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Frontier doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When two different drivers share the Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Frontier doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Frontier doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Ridgeline’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. The Frontier S doesn’t offer power windows.

The Ridgeline’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Frontier’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Ridgeline the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Frontier can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Ridgeline’s standard power locks allow the driver or passenger to lock or unlock all the doors at a touch without leaning over, or reaching to the back seat. The Frontier S doesn’t offer power locks.

The Smart Entry standard on the Ridgeline allows you to unlock the driver’s door, tailgate and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading cargo, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Nissan Frontier doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Ridgeline’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Frontier’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Ridgeline has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Frontier doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

Consumer Reports rated the Ridgeline’s headlight performance “Fair,” a higher rating than the Frontier’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Ridgeline’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Frontier’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

The Ridgeline has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Frontier has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the SL/PRO-4X.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Frontier doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Ridgeline has standard power remote mirrors. The Frontier S doesn’t offer either a remote driver side or passenger side mirror. The driver will have to roll down the windows and reach across the car to adjust the mirrors.

When the Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Frontier’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Frontier doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Ridgeline has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Frontier S/SV/Desert Runner/King Cab doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the Ridgeline and the Frontier offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Ridgeline has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Frontier doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Ridgeline has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Frontier doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Ridgeline RTL-E/Black Edition has a 115-volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Frontier doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/21

The Ridgeline will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Ridgeline will retain 58.64% to 59.99% of its original price after five years, while the Frontier only retains 47.88% to 57.06%.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/21

Consumer Reports® recommends the Honda Ridgeline, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Frontier isn't recommended.

The Ridgeline was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 3 years. The Frontier has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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