This full-billet NAPD Dodge transmission will allow an 8,700-pound diesel pickup to run a
Auto All The Way
If you break down the task of driving into the four specific categories, you get steering, accelerating and braking, selecting gears, and operating accessories like windshield wipers and blinker controls. If we subtract one of those jobs, we reduce driver effort by 25 percent. In other words, when you don't have to press a clutch pedal and choose a gear for a given scenario, you allow yourself more freedom to the remaining operations.
Sure, automatics are more complex on the inside, and they cost more than manuals, but when you stop and think about it, you get what you pay for. The added costs free up a foot and a hand, requiring less input and concentration. This saved effort can be spent sending text messages and applying make-up. Well, maybe not, but for hard-core trail rigs, this might allow freeing up hands and feet for engaging cutting brakes, selectable lockers, or rear steering on-the-fly.
Automatics aid drivers on difficult obstacles, too, thanks to torque-converter slippage, allowing the driver almost surgical precision of both forward and backward motion. Where lower gearing might have been necessary with a manual transmission, simply modulate the gas pedal and let the torque converter do the rest. Sure, you can't bump-start a vehicle equipped with an automatic if your starter fails, but how often does this issue actually arise? Another point where automatics are far superior is towing with a turbodiesel pickup. With a manual, each time you shift gears you lose the built-up turbo pressure and start out again at zero psi. This can cost you valuable speed when climbing steep hills. When it comes to performance, I'd take an automatic any day.
Among other benefits, manual transmissions afford the driver better control over the vehic
Man Up And Go Manual
Driving a manual transmission is a dying art, and as drivers get lazier, manufacturers offer us loyalists fewer manual choices. While it is true an automatic transmission can make wheeling easier, those who master the manual transmission are rewarded with superior vehicle control, more favorable low-range gearing compared to the same vehicle with an automatic, and a more satisfying driving experience.
Perhaps this certain satisfaction that comes from wheeling with a stick is from the increased skill required, the challenge, or maybe it is the feeling of being more in tune with the machinery. Have you ever tried to scale an obstacle in an automatic-equipped rig, only to be hard on the brakes on the downside to combat torque-converter surge? In a manual transmission, engine braking can take you over the top and return a smoother, more controlled descent. Other benEFIts of manual transmissions include better engine performance, less wear and tear on the braking system, and better fuel economy. A manual transmission can also get you unstuck by rocking between forward and reverse gears, something impossible or nearly so in an automatic-equipped rig. You also don't need to worry about remote transmission oil coolers with a manual, making for greater simplicity.
Lastly, and probably the best reason to run a manual: If you blow an automatic on the trail, your day is done, but chances are with a manual, you can find a gear that will get you off the trail-especially if water is often encountered. Ever try driving an automatic with water in it? It just doesn't work, although the same situation in a manual transmission won't leave you stranded. The point was never more clearly illustrated than at TTC 2006 when a vehicle on pace to set a Tank Trap record failed to complete the Tank Trap due to a water-logged transmission-if the vehicle was equipped with a stick it would have at least been able to finish.
-Sean P. Holman
Our Project RangeRunner Ford Ranger demonstrates the virtues of IFS: great road manners, a
Declaration Of Independents
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all trucks are created equal...but some trucks are more equal than others. The kinds of trucks that can not only crawl through ruts and cycle over rocks, but also go fast in the desert and take us to the job site or school every day in comfort. A truck for all seasons, in other words, and for those of us who want the best combination of performance and manners in the dirt and on pavement, there's no beating independent suspension.