Only 1 Full-Size Pickup Truck Offers a Manual Transmission
Once upon a time, most full-size pickup truck buyers ordered a manual transmission. But as automatic transmission technology improved and fewer drivers learned to drive stick, the gearshift went the way of the Dodo. Today you only have two options for a midsize pickup truck with a stick shift. The only full-size truck that offers a manual transmission is the Ram 4000. And even that isn’t available in the U.S.
Are there any manual transmission trucks?
While a couple of mid-size trucks still offer a manual transmission, the only full-size manual pickup truck available is the Ram 4000. And you can’t even buy one in the United States.
If you want to buy a manual transmission truck in the United States, you only have two options: the Toyota Tacoma and the Jeep Gladiator.
Toyota offers a manual transmission behind both Tacoma engines, the I4 and V6. The Jeep Gladiator shares powertrains with the Wrangler: you can order a gasoline 3.6-liter V6 with an automatic or manual transmission. But you must order the Gladiator’s 3.0-liter EcoBoost turbodiesel with an automatic transmission.
The final manual transmission U.S. buyers could order in a full-size truck was the heavy-duty Ram’s six-speed available with the Cummins turbodiesel engine. But for the Ram’s 2019 redesign, the automaker did away with this option.
Ram’s parent company, Stellantis, builds manual transmissions for Ram’s V6 and HEMI V8s: you can order them in Jeep Wranglers and Dodge Challengers. And Ram still makes one full-size truck with a manual transmission, but you can’t buy it in the United States.
Does Ram still make a manual transmission?
Ram still is pairing some of its 5.7-liter HEMI V8s with a Tremec TR4050 five-speed at its Saltillo, Mexico factory. But these engines are for Ram 4000 pickup trucks, only available in the Mexican market.
It may surprise you to know that all heavy-duty Ram pickup trucks (2500 and larger) are made in Mexico. Ram’s Saltillo, Mexico plant has earned the distinction of building the highest quality trucks of any Ram factory.
The Saltillo plant builds a unique truck for the Mexican market: the Ram 4000 is a chassis/cab that boasts a much higher payload capacity than the Ram 2500 and 3500, thanks to heavier springs.
In the name of fuel efficiency and a lower MSRP, the regular-cab Ram 4000 is the only heavy-duty Ram with the smaller 5.7-liter HEMI V8. This configuration of the Ram 4000 also features a Tremec five-speed manual transmission.
Why does the Ram 4000 have a manual transmission?
The Ram 4000 has a relatively small engine for a heavy-duty truck. Its manual transmission allows drivers to compensate for the lack of horsepower by shifting early and often.
A chassis/cab truck with a relatively small engine and a manual transmission was actually a common commercial truck spec for decades.
This is because, if you’re willing to shift a lot you can usually get a V8’s job done with just a slant six. Opting for a base engine reduces the truck’s sticker price and often improves fuel efficiency. In addition, most drivers knew how to drive stick shift.
In the United States, automatic transmissions have almost completely replaced the manual. But in other parts of the world, three pedals are still a popular option. Ram must believe that a capable, fuel-efficient truck with a stick shift might not sell well in the U.S., but is perfect for the Mexican market.
Next, see the one pickup truck offering a locking front differential. Or see a dealer salesperson give a tour of the Ram 4000 in the video below (descriptions in Spanish):