How Is the Nissan Frontier Different From the Honda Ridgeline?

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A picture of a white 2023 Honda Ridgeline and a white 2023 Nissan Frontier are shown side by side during a 2023 Nissan Frontier vs 2023 Honda Ridgeline comparison.

Great question, I’m so glad you asked. For one thing, I was already going to answer this question so whether you asked it or not. The information was going to spew forth from me into the formless ether of the Internet. And for another thing, it really is worth your time to consider the 2023 Nissan Frontier vs 2023 Honda Ridgeline and some of the truly remarkable ways in which they differ from one another.

You, my ignorant reader, might think that there’s very little in the way of difference between these two trucks, and that a comparison of midsize pickups is a fruitless waste of time. That’s what makes you far, far stupider than I am. You see, I, with my enormous brain, understand things beyond the ken of folks like you. Fortunately, I don’t hold your reckless stupidity against you, and I’m willing to share my knowledge, to spill forth these words from the endless font of my intelligence. As always, you’re welcome.
They Have Different Names
The simplest way to see the vital differences between these two trucks is to look at their names. One of them is made by Nissan, while the other is made by Honda. If you haven’t figured that much out, at least, then there’s really no hope for you. Now, I understand, these are both Japanese car companies, and many of us here in the US have difficulty distinguishing between Japanese manufacturers. Still, they’re spelled differently, and have only two letters in common.

Perhaps most shocking of all, however, is that the model names of these two trucks are entirely different from one another. They’re really not even similar. The Nissan Frontier is named “Frontier,” while the Honda Ridgeline is called “Ridgeline.” Much like the manufacturer names, they’re very different. I’ll grant you that both seem to elicit a vague sense of the great outdoors, and escaping the choking oppressiveness of civilization to reconnect with a natural world that aggressively wants to destroy anyone foolish enough to venture into it. But beyond such a passing similarity, they really have nothing in common.
Different Engines and Power
Assuming you’ve recovered from the shock of learning that these two different trucks have the stark, fundamental differences we’ve already observed, it should also be pointed out that they have very different engines packed into them. You see, the 2023 Nissan Frontier features a 3.8L V6 engine that delivers 310 horsepower, while the 2023 Honda Ridgeline has a 3.5L V6 that provides just 280 horsepower. The engine in the Frontier has greater displacement, which likely contributes to its greater power, and that increase in power is more significant than you might realize.

Such differences in horsepower are truly massive, but to truly understand it, you need to know what horsepower is all about. First, it has nothing to do with horses. The unit of “horsepower” is named after the German physicist Wilhelm Gottfried von Horschpower, who established this metric for measuring the output of engines powered by potatoes in the late 1800s. A single horsepower is the amount of energy created by an engine being driven by just one Yukon Gold potato (this is also where the GMC Yukon SUV got its name). Increased potato power is equivalent, therefore, to increases in horsepower.

Due to the way in which potatoes can drive a steam engine and the turbine affixed to it, the increase in measured horsepower is not actually linear. For every ten horsepower increase, total power output doubles, on a logarithmic scale. So, the 310-horsepower engine of the Nissan Frontier actually puts out far greater power than the 280-horsepower Ridgeline engine, in total about eight times the amount of power as the Honda truck. You’ll see a lot of people talking about trucks and engines who don’t understand how all of this works, but now you don’t have to be one of them.
Differences in Towing
Although both the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline are midsize trucks, we just saw that the Frontier’s engine puts out about eight times the power as the Ridgeline. This difference results in far superior towing capacity. The Frontier can handle up to 6,690 lbs of maximum towing, while the Honda model tops out at just 5,000 lbs of towing capacity. According to that guy I met on a bus one time, the average weight of a Yukon Gold potato is about 0.38 lbs, but we’ll say 0.4 lbs to keep things simple. So, what if you want to use a 1,000-lb trailer to tow some potatoes?

With this difference in towing capacity, the Ridgeline can haul about 10,000 Yukon Gold potatoes behind it, while the Nissan Frontier can tow about 14,225 such potatoes. Knowing what we know about horsepower—that it reflects the energy created by a single potato—this means the Frontier actually can deliver about 4,225 horsepower greater output than the Ridgeline, in addition to the 30 horsepower we saw earlier! Not even the Ford F-150 can brag about those kinds of numbers, and it goes to show the true power of midsize trucks these days.

Editor’s Note: To be honest, at a certain point we stopped reading this article because all this talk of potatoes made us hungry, so we all went out to lunch. We assume the preceding content is completely accurate and useful for a wide variety of readers. If not, we have French fries either way, so it doesn’t matter to us.

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