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Can You Get a New Truck with a Manual Transmission?

The stick shift isn’t dead… but it’s close.

Manual transmissions used to be a standard item on all pickup trucks. In fact, there was a time not long ago when the manual transmission was standard on all vehicles. Over the decades, though, automatic transmission technology has improved exponentially. Shifts are faster and smoother from an automatic than a normal human can achieve with a manual. Fuel economy, which was once a driving force behind retaining a manual option, is now better with an automatic. And let's face it, at least here in America we're now lazier than we used to be. All of these factors together have led to the untimely demise of the once-great manual transmission.

First to lose the third pedal option was the half-ton class. By 2010, there wasn't a half-ton available with a manual transmission. The heavy-duty trucks lost their manual option next, with Ram holding out until the 2018 model year. Midsize trucks have long been a mainstay for gear-grinders, but alas, as of 2020 we're down to only two manual transmission options: the Toyota Tacoma and Jeep Gladiator. The final year of the manual transmission for Canyon, Colorado, and Frontier was 2019.

2020 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota has offered a manual transmission in the Tacoma since its introduction. And for that matter, the company has had a manual version of every truck sold in the United States. For 2020 Toyota still offers a manual transmission on Tacoma, but it's not on the model you would think. Four-cylinder trucks, which traditionally would have featured the manual option, do not. Toyota has gone the opposite of the historical trend and now only offers a six-speed manual transmission option behind the premium 3.5L V-6 engine and only on four-wheel-drive TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro models. Also, fuel economy is down 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. Selecting the manual transmission saves about $1,600, but you lose features such as Crawl Control. Payload drops by just 20 pounds with the manual transmission, and Toyota doesn't break out manual from automatic towing figures other than rating Tacoma at 3,500 pounds without the V-6 towing prep package, and up to 6,500 pounds with (though you won't get the transmission fluid cooler, naturally).

2020 Jeep Gladiator

This one should come as no real surprise. Even though the all-new 2020 Jeep Gladiator is currently only available with one engine, a 3.6L V-6, it does offer your choice of either an eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Unlike the Tacoma, the manual transmission is available across the full trim lineup of the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. It's available on Sport, Sport S, Overland, Mojave, and Rubicon. For fuel economy, the manual transmission loses 1 mpg in the city but gains 1 mpg on the highway over the eight-speed automatic. The manual transmission option saves $2,000 over selecting the eight-speed automatic. The Gladiator Sport with a manual transmission has the highest payload rating of 1,700 pounds (typical across the other trims is about 1,200 pounds), which is within 40 pounds of the rating of those with an automatic. Towing takes a hit, as all manual equipped Gladiators are only rated to tow 4,500 pounds. Automatics are rated between 6,000 and 7,650 pounds.

 

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