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Midsize truck resurgence? Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline have record year


When it comes to midsize trucks, the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline often get glazed over as also-runs or never-weres. Truth be told, that’s not a fair assessment. And judging from the sales numbers released for 2021, there’s a resurgence going on for both of these smaller trucks.

Even more interesting is the drop in sales numbers for the Toyota Tacoma toward the end of 2021. Sure, the Tacoma retains the title of the best-selling truck in the segment (by a lot), but sales volumes for the Tacoma were down 30% in December, compared to 2020. Absolutely, some of that is due in part to the pandemic and supply chain issues, but it stands to reason as well that both the Frontier and Ridgeline dipped into the Tacoma’s sales numbers.

In 2020, the Tacoma sold 238,306 units while in 2021, the number increased by just more that 6% to 252,520 units. So, Tacoma is still going strong in this segment. But a closer look at the increase in volume for both Frontier and Ridgeline show that the competition is gaining and the segment is also expanding.

2021 Nissan Frontier sales

The Frontier gets an overhaul in 2022, and in the fourth quarter of 2021, the Frontier saw a volume increase of 117.1%. That’s impressive. And year over year, the unit sales increased from 36,845 in 2020 to 60,693 in 2021, for a 64.1% increase.

That shows a real comeback for the Frontier, which had struggled to gain traction in the segment, battling against the Tacoma and the Ford Ranger. It will be interesting to see if this midsize truck continues its upward trajectory and if that will that take away from Tacoma sales.

2021 Honda Ridgeline sales

As a unibody truck, the Ridgeline has sort of been a misfit within the truck segment. Now, with the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick debuting with unibody builds, albeit with smaller dimensions, perhaps the Ridgeline can find its footing. And judging by the 2021 sales numbers it may have found its place.

Year over year, the Ridgeline saw a 28.6% increase in sales from 32,138 in 2020 to 41,355 in 2021. The Ridgeline gets an upgrade for 2022 with Honda’s rugged TrailSport trim. And we think that will have an additional positive impact on the Ridgeline’s bottom line.

The bottom line on midsize trucks

Obviously the Tacoma is the king of the mountain in this segment and will remain so. To prognosticate otherwise would be foolish. But one thing is clear, the once forgotten about Frontier and Ridgeline still have some life left in them. And exactly what impact the upcoming Maverick and Santa Cruz will have the midsize truck segment remains to be seen.

One thing is for certain, more competition is better for the consumer. If there’s a burgeoning interest in smaller trucks, that will be a good thing for all manufacturers.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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