The Frontier has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Ridgeline doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
Both the Frontier and the Ridgeline 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 available rearview cameras.
The camshafts in the Frontier’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The Ridgeline’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the Ridgeline’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Frontier first among midsize pickups in their 2016 Initial Quality Study. The Ridgeline isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Honda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Honda is ranked 23rd, below the industry average.
The Frontier’s optional 4.0 DOHC V6 produces 19 lbs.-ft. more torque (281 vs. 262) than the Ridgeline’s 3.5 SOHC V6.
The Frontier has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Ridgeline (21.1 vs. 19.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Frontier’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Ridgeline are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the Frontier SV/Crew Cab’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Ridgeline (265/70R16 vs. 245/60R18).
The Nissan Frontier’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Honda Ridgeline only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.
The Frontier PRO-4X/Desert Runner’s has front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Ridgeline’s suspension doesn’t offer front gas-charged shocks.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Frontier King Cab’s wheelbase is .7 inches longer than on the Ridgeline (125.9 inches vs. 125.2 inches). The Frontier Long Bed Crew Cab’s wheelbase is 14.7 inches longer than on the Ridgeline (139.9 feet vs. 125.2 inches).
For greater off-road capability the Frontier has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Ridgeline (8.9 vs. 7.9 inches), allowing the Frontier to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The Nissan Frontier may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 500 pounds less than the Honda Ridgeline.
The Frontier King Cab is 4.5 inches shorter than the Ridgeline, making the Frontier easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Frontier is 5.8 inches narrower than the Ridgeline, making the Frontier easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.
As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Frontier Short Bed SL Crew Cab 4x4 is quieter than the Ridgeline Black Edition 4x4 (74 vs. 77 dB).
The Frontier’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Ridgeline does not have an oil pressure gauge.
The Nissan Frontier outsold the Honda Ridgeline by almost seven to one during the 2016 model year.