For decades manual transmissions were standard in all vehicles including pickup trucks.

Today the popularity of manual transmissions has faded due to demand for automatic transmissions, which handle the art of shifting gears for you.

Yet there are still a few automotive manufacturers who still sell new pickup trucks with manual transmissions. There are a few benefits to these models, that are worth exploring.

What Is a Manual Transmission Truck?

A manual transmission is a specially engineered multi-speed motor vehicle transmission system, that allows you to select the gear via a gear stick and a manual clutch pedal.

This allows you to downshift, or shift up to a higher gear to meet the road or towing load conditions.

Manual transmissions are also sometimes referred to as a “Stick Shift,” “Manual Gearbox” or“Standard Transmission.”

Manual transmissions are preferred by professional drivers, and big-rig operators, as they allow you to put the power down from the engine to meet the need of the vehicle.

How Do Manual Transmissions Differ from Automatic Transmissions?

How Do Manual Transmissions Differ from Automatic Transmissions

An automatic transmission adjusts the gears automatically based on the engine speed and the demand placed on the vehicle.

This also means that they tend to have fewer gears, which can make them less fuel-efficient than a manual transmission.

They became increasingly popular in the late 1980s, and their refined technology has gradually allowed them to become the most common type of transmission found in foreign and domestic vehicles on the US market.

There tends to be more lag time in the gear changes of an automatic transmission.

This can be a major issue if you are towing a travel trailer and need to merge into highway-speed traffic.

Also, automatic transmissions have more parts and relay components. This can increase the risk of a mechanical problem as the vehicle ages. Automatic transmissions also tend to be more expensive to repair.

Of course, the biggest advantage is that the vehicle is choosing the gears for you.

This leads to a lot of people choosing the convenience of automatic transmission over a manual transmission, despite some of its obvious drawbacks.

Benefits of Manual Transmission Trucks

Benefits of Manual Transmission Trucks

There are several benefits to manual transmission trucks. Some of which are emphasized more when you use a pickup truck with a manual transmission as a tow vehicle for pulling a travel trailer or a fifth-wheel.

Less Lag Time In Gear Changes

Once you become a professional with the relationship between the clutch pedal and the stick shift, you can change gears with far less lag than a manual transmission.

This can be especially helpful, especially when merging into highway traffic under load or you need to pull a heavy load up a steep incline.

Better Fuel Efficiency

Being able to select gears can also lead to greater fuel efficiency for the vehicle.

Though it does require you to develop a driving style that makes the most out of the power produced by the internal combustion engine.

Better Handling & Control

Being able to shift gears on demand to meet the road conditions comes in handy with a manual transmission truck.

Especially if you are towing on a loose surface or slippery conditions. Many times, the lag in an automatic transmission can cause a spin-out or loss of control in poor road conditions.

Easier To Maintain

Manual transmissions tend to be much easier to maintain. They can also be flat towed without having to worry about a lack of transmission fluid circulating inside the gearbox like you do when attempting to flat tow any vehicle with an automatic transmission.

This makes manual transmission pickup trucks very popular with motorhome owners who like to bring their daily driver with them on vacation as a runabout vehicle.

Lower Cost

Manual transmissions cost less to build and weigh less than hulking automatic transmissions and all their expensive components.

This translates to a lower sticker price on a new pickup truck with a manual transmission, or a model that has more special features than the same version with an automatic transmission.

This low-cost benefit continues on into the life of the pickup truck. When a manual transmission does have a problem, such as a burned-out clutch or a problem with the flywheel, they tend to be faster and cheaper to repair.

This comes from both less labor cost to perform the repair, as well as less expensive components.

What Are The Disadvantages of a Manual Transmission Truck?

What Are The Disadvantages of a Manual Transmission Truck

With all its apparent benefits, there are some disadvantages to manual transmission vehicles and manual trucks, in particular, that have helped automatic transmissions come to dominate the automotive market.

Learning to Drive a Truck with a Manual Transmission

The learning curve for a manual transmission can be steep. It’s one thing to manage to drive it reasonably on the open road. Though learning to use it proficiently can be very challenging.

It’s also hard to find people with a lot of experience driving a pickup truck with a manual transmission. So, when you do have a question, you’ll likely have to figure it out on your own.

Tough To Drive In Heavy Traffic

Stop-and-go traffic is an absolute nightmare for the driver of a pickup truck with a manual transmission.

Stepping on the clutch, working the pedals, and shifting gears just to move 10 feet over and over again will wear you out in more ways than one.

Not only can it leave you with a very sore left leg, but heavy traffic can also rob your manual transmission of fuel efficiency.

Challenging to Drive On Hills

Hills and even steep short inclines can be a real challenge for even relatively experienced drivers in a truck with a manual transmission.

If you don’t properly feather the relationship between releasing the clutch and applying the gas it can lead to a very difficult stall.

This can be disastrous in heavy traffic conditions, or if you happen to be towing a loaded trailer behind you.

Even if the engine doesn’t stall out, you could end up rocking backward toward other vehicles behind you.

Why Are Manual Transmissions Disappearing?

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the cost to make and repair automatic transmissions started to come down.

At the same time, automotive engineers were getting better at making more durable models, which helped do away with the expensive repair bills that marred the automatic transmission’s early reputation.

In recent years automotive engineers started responding to the demand for more than just three gears.

Today five and seven-speed automatic transmissions are available on a lot of popular new vehicles.

This lets them put the power down more efficiently, and also leads to fewer “Jerky” gear changes.

Though a lot of drivers will point to the learning curve and inconvenience of manual transmissions that make them prohibitive.

When you combine all these factors together, it is leading to the slow death of manual transmissions in all but commercial and high-performance vehicles.

Can You Get a New Truck with a Manual Transmission?

Can You Get a New Truck with a Manual Transmission

While automatic transmissions have seemingly taken over the automotive industry, there are still a few foreign and domestic manufacturers who offer new trucks with manual transmissions. This includes Toyota, Jeep, and Ford

Which Manufacturers Still Make Manual Transmission Trucks?

There are a few popular automotive manufacturers like Toyota and Jeep who offer models with an optional manual transmission.

Though the number of gears in the gearbox and the engine that comes with these models can be limited to certain trim levels.

Here are four of the last trucks you can still buy with a manual transmission.

1. The 2022 Toyota Tacoma

The 2022 Toyota Tacoma

The 2022 Toyota Tacoma is available with an optional manual transmission. It also comes with a powerful3.5-liter V6 engine that produces up to 278 horsepower.

The six-speed manual Tacoma option though is only available on models with four-wheel-drive. This includes the TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and the TRD Pro trim levels.

These versions of the 2022 Toyota Tacoma have an impressive maximum towing capacity of up to 6,400-pounds.

This makes them a very attractive option for towing a travel trailer, without forcing you to upgrade to a full-size half-ton pickup truck.

2. The 2022 Jeep Gladiator

The 2022 Jeep Gladiator

The 2022 Jeep Gladiator is also available with an optional 6-speed manual transmission. It comes with a robust 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces up to 285 horsepower.

Depending on the trim level you choose the maximum towing capacity can vary from 4,000 to 4,500-pounds.

This is less than the Tacoma but still strong enough to pull a lot of lightweight travel trailers.

3. The 2022 Ford Bronco

The 2022 Ford Bronco

The new Ford Bronco hit arrived on the US marketplace with mixed reviews.

Though the versatility and customization of its various trim levels also mean that there is a version with a manual transmission.

Known as the “Big Bend” this trim level of the 2022 Ford Bronco is available with either a 2.3-liter engine that produces 300 horsepower or a 2.7-liter engine that produces an impressive 330 horsepower.

Each version comes with a 7-speed manual transmission to put the power down. It also translates into a maximum towing capacity of up to 3,500-pounds.

4. The 2018 RAM 2500 Laramie

The 2018 RAM 2500 Laramie

RAM was the last pickup truck manufacturer to make a full-size truck with a manual transmission.

While 2018 is hardly new, this is the kind of pickup truck with the robust engineering to live a long life.

The 2018 RAM 2500 Laramie has a 6.7-liter turbodiesel inline6-cylinder engine that is rated at 660 lb-ft of torque.

When paired with a manual transmission it has a maximum towing capacity of up to 17,480 pounds.


Manual transmissions have been rapidly fading in popularity over the last three decades.

Yet there are still a few new trucks and one slightly older used truck that you can find with a stick shift.

They offer you the ability to put the power down as you see fit, without the lag and fuel expenditure of an automatic transmission.

If you are looking for a truck that can tow a travel trailer with confidence, then the 2022 Toyota Tacoma might be the best new truck with a manual transmission to meet your needs.

The 6,400-pound maximum towing capacity, 6-speed transmission, and four-wheel drive capability of the trim levels with the manual transmission really let you put the power down.

If you are looking for an SUV-type truck with tons of versatility and customizable options then the new 2022 Ford Bronco Big Bend might be the best truck with a manual transmission to meet your needs.

When you work directly with the manufacturer you can have the Bronco’s interior and exterior features altered to meet your needs, while still having a modest enough towing capacity to pull a teardrop trailer or popup camper with ease.