The mid-sized Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier offer big value as used trucks. But, at $10,000, which is the better value?
The Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier both have strong track records as durable, capable, and comfortable mid-size pickups. Their size and toughness perfectly blend affordability and reliability to make them ideal used trucks. The Honda Ridgeline’s first generation ran for ten years, from model years 2006 to 2016. The second-generation Nissan Frontier (when it graduated from light to mid-size pickup) saw an even longer run from 2005 through 2020. Needless to say, Nissan and Honda felt they’d gotten the formula right with their respective trucks and the buying public agreed.
With a budget of $10,000, we’ll be looking at roughly the 2007 model year for each truck and somewhere around 150,000 to 200,000 miles on the odometer. As you’ll read below, these trucks match up very closely not just in price but in their driving, comfort, and available features.
The 2007 Honda Ridgeline comes with just one engine, a 3.5L naturally-aspirated V6 making 247 horsepower and 245 lb.-ft. of torque. This comes paired with a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Fuel economy comes in at 16 city and 21 highway mpg. Payload is rated 1,600 lbs. while towing is rated to a maximum of 5,000 lbs.
The 2007 Nissan Frontier offers two engine options. The first, coming on the base XE trim, is a 2.5L inline-four making 152 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft. of torque. The XE comes in two-wheel drive only. Fuel economy runs 22 city and 25 highway mpg for the six-speed manual transmission and 19/24 mpg for the five-speed automatic. The other option is a 4.0L V6 with 261 horsepower and 281 lb.-ft. of torque. Here too, the fuel economy varies. The manual equipped version gets 17/21 mpg and the automatic 16/21 mpg with 2WD. In 4WD, the manual gets 17/21 mpg and the automatic 16/20 mpg. Payload for the Frontier is 1,500 lbs. and towing a robust 6,500 lbs. when properly equipped.
One of the consistent attractions of the Honda Ridgeline has always been its on road characteristics, specifically its much more crossover-like driving. Fully independent front and rear suspensions are a big reason for the smooth ride and impressive handling. Though there’s only the 3.5L available, the Ridgeline won’t leave you pining for more power as low end torque is ample and acceleration adequate for nearly all driving scenarios. Steering is accurate with decent feedback and good heft. If off-roading is your end goal, it must be noted the Ridgeline’s on-road refinement comes at the expense of ruggedness. Ride height is a decent 8.1-inches, two behind the Frontier.
The Nissan Frontier’s base four-cylinder engine is decidedly weak and not worth much consideration beside the much more impressive V6 option. The 3.5L engine offers good power and lots of grunty low-end torque. It’s in perfect sync with the smooth and responsive five-speed automatic transmission. The ride might not be as forgiving as the sterling Ridgeline, but it’s still on the softer end for pickups of this age. Steering feedback is good and the Frontier’s cabin notably quieter than that of the Ridgeline’s. Again, if you’re looking to tackle the rough stuff, the Frontier is the better option, even before you add in the off-road tuned Nismo trim.
The other big selling point for the Ridgeline has been the high-quality interior. The 2007 model year is indeed both a comfortable and functional space. The front and rear seats are supportive and legroom generous. There are lots of cubbies and storage bins to be had. Overall, material quality is high, with plenty of soft-touch plastics. The dash layout is logical and ergonomic with ease of use and utility clearly in mind when it was designed. The Ridgeline makes up for its short-ish bed (it is a mid-size truck after all) with a lockable in-bed trunk, complete with drain plug.
The Frontier is a bit less sophisticated in its design, and material quality below that of the Ridgeline with abundant hard plastic surfaces cheapening an otherwise decent cabin. The seats are roughly equivalent to those of the Ridgeline, comfortable and supportive. The base XE trim comes in the Extended Cab configuration only, meaning the rear seats in that trim are fairly cramped. The Crew Cab however, offers a good amount of room even for those six-foot and slightly above. There’s a good deal of storage here too, with two capacious glove boxes.
The 2007 Honda Ridgeline comes in four trim levels: the RT, RTX, RTS, and RTL. The base RT offers cruise control, heated wipers, AC, and keyless entry. The RTX adds a trailer hitch, chrome accenting, and alloy wheels. The RTS gets a six-CD disc changer and a power driver’s seat. The top trim RTL comes with heated front seats, leather upholstery, a moonroof, heated sidemirrors, and navigation.
The 2007 Nissan Frontier comes in four trims and two configurations: the XE, SE, LE, and Nismo trims and in either extended (two-door) or crew cab (four-door) configurations. The base XE trim exclusively comes in extended cab (King Cab) form and gets power from a 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Next is the SE that gets larger 16-inch wheels and AC. The LE trim comes with keyless entry, 17-inch wheels, cruise control and options for leather upholstery and power front seats. The top Nismo trim gets an off-road tuned suspension and an optional Rockford Fosgate premium stereo with six-CD changer.
Clearly, the Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier have two different personalities that may help make your mind up for you. Both trucks do decent “truck things” and offer good power while still being mid-sized rather than full-sized pickups. Both trucks drive far better than larger ones of a similar age and price. Yet there are clear distinctions. The Ridgeline offers a more refined interior and a smoother ride quality. The Frontier gets the nod when it comes to off-roading and boasts a quieter cabin on the highway.
In the end, the better automatic transmission, additional ride height, and slightly higher towing capacity nudge the Frontier ahead of the Ridgeline for a used truck buy under $10,000. But, given how comparable they are, do yourself a favor and drive both before making a final call.