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Are Manual Transmission Trucks Still Made?

Are Manual Transmission Trucks Still Made?

They were once the norm, but manual transmission trucks now seem like a dying breed. In the last few decades, most drivers have moved on.

Before they’re completely extinct, we’ll get the rundown on what used to be the standard for motor vehicles.

Let’s take a look!

What Are Manual Transmission Trucks?

In the days before automatic transmissions, motorists had no choice but to shift gears themselves. A standard or manual transmission has a stick shift, which is a lever you use to physically change between different gears.

They also have a third pedal to the left of the brake pedal called a clutch. When you press the clutch pedal, the engine disengages from the drive train so you can safely shift gears.

You release the clutch to resume motion.

What Are the Benefits of Manual Transmission Trucks?

Traditionally, manual transmissions always offered better fuel economy. But with computer-enhanced smart technology, modern automatic transmissions are more efficient, with built-in features to conserve fuel. 

While fuel savings sometimes aren’t a draw anymore, some drivers have other reasons they prefer manual transmission trucks. First up, they feel like they have more control over the truck’s performance. You shift when you want to, not when the truck does.

This can make the vehicle more responsive, especially in lower gears. Manual transmissions are also cheaper than automatic transmission trucks and tend to go more miles without expensive repairs.

Finally, some people favor them simply because that’s what they’re used to.

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Man using stick shift in manual vehicle.
Manual trucks typically offer better fuel economy.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

Manual transmission trucks do have their disadvantages. First of all, they’re just not as easy or convenient to operate. It’s safer to always keep two hands on a steering wheel, but that’s not possible when operating a stick shift.

You have to remove your right hand to shift gears.

You also have to use both feet because it’s your left foot that pushes the clutch pedal. This can become quite a workout in stop-and-go traffic. 

Another downside is that not all drivers know how to drive a stick. Some people never get the hang of it, so your options for a backup driver might be limited.

You also have fewer trucks to choose from when purchasing if you’re dead set on a manual transmission.

Two friends posing in desert with their pick up truck.
It has been found that automatic transmissions are better for towing than manual transmissions.

Which Is Better for Towing: Manual or Automatic Transmission?

Some diehard manual proponents may argue otherwise, but the consensus is that automatic transmissions are better for towing. They have higher towing capacities, meaning they can pull more weight. They offer a steady towing experience, while you can lose momentum when shifting manually.

In addition, many automatic transmissions let you shift manually into lower gears. This can be helpful with towing uphill or when you need to pass another vehicle.

Keep in Mind: When using your truck to tow, you’ll want to make sure you are going The Ideal RV Highway Speed.

Are Manual Transmission Trucks Still Made?

Trucks with manual transmissions aren’t dead, but they’re definitely on the endangered species list. You can still buy a new truck with a manual transmission, but don’t expect a big selection. In fact, the available models have dwindled to two.

They’re both mid-sizers geared toward adventurous off-road enthusiasts.

However, they’re from top manufacturers and get solid ratings in terms of performance reliability. Up until 2019, there were a few more options, including the Nissan Frontier, the Chevy Colorado, and the GMC Canyon.

Man happily driving truck.
It is less common to find trucks now with manual transmissions.

Which Manufacturers Still Make Manual Transmission Trucks?

There are two choices left for manual transmission trucks. Let’s take a look at each.

2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Tacoma’s rugged off-road model has a six-speed manual transmission as an option. You can pair it with either a base four-cylinder engine or a peppier 270-hp 3.5L V6. It’s a four-door double cab. Unfortunately, the manual transmission means a shorter five-foot cargo box instead of six feet.

It’s available as AWD and has a max towing capacity of 6,400 pounds. Payload capacity is 1,155 pounds, and the estimated mileage is 18 to 22 mpg.

2021 Jeep Gladiator

A six-speed manual transmission and a 285-hp 3.6L engine come standard with the Jeep Gladiator. (They also have an optional 3.0L diesel engine, but it’s available only with the eight-speed automatic transmission.)

To shift gears yourself, you have to choose between two trims, the Sport and Sport S models.

Like the Tacoma, the bed length is five feet. Towing capacity peaks out at 7,650 pounds, and the max payload is 1,600 pounds. It gets 17 to 22 mpg.

Are Manual Transmission Trucks Worth It?

There was a time when manual transmissions were all over the roads. Nearly everyone knew how to drive with one, and all mechanics knew how to work on them.

But times have changed.

Very few drivers have a compelling reason to favor a manual transmission over an automatic one. We’d say that in most cases, it’s better to stick with today’s standard.

Do you prefer a manual transmission? Tell us why.

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  1. M Bruce Parker says:

    Most recent cars and trucks are sent off to the knacker when the automatic transmission fails. This occurs because a replacement is often more costly than the residual value of the car or truck when repaired. Replacing an automatic transmission becomes a labor of love, not logic. Manual transmissions have some other advantages: They do not shift into a gear you do not wish for. The “manual” control of gear changes on ATs is often vague, and gear changes slow. I would have bought my Sprinter with a manual transmission, had this been available. NB: It is possible to build a MT with all the same gear ratios, but without an overdrive feature. This is a marketing label for sales.