Modern automatic transmissions let trucks reach new levels of refinement and fuel efficiency. Not to mention the convenience in heavy city traffic. Also, vehicle electronics are now so interconnected, that a manual transmission simply introduces too many variables. The human brain and muscles are the weak link. So, for the most part, the stick-shift has gone away. In fact, right now, there are only three new manual trucks available on the market, and all of them are mid-size.
Until recently, there would have been two other trucks on this list. But GM no longer offers a manual transmission option on the Chevrolet Colorado or the GMC Canyon. “We dropped the manual transmission from the Colorado and Canyon for 2019 model year. Unfortunately, the demand was so low for the manual transmission that it did not justify continuing to offer it,” a spokesperson told CarBuzz.
With both the Chevrolet Colorado and Ram 1500 dropping their manual options for 2019, this leaves the Jeep Gladiator as the sole American choice when it comes to new manual trucks. It’s also the only truck here to make it on our “Mid-Size Trucks with the Highest Payload Capacity” list.
Considering its Wrangler roots and off-road credentials, though, the stick will hold out for some time. In fact, the #SaveTheManuals campaign can rest easy: the 6-speed manual is the default option in all trim levels of the Gladiator. Although, that may also have something do with the fact that there’s only one engine offered in the Gladiator. For now, at least.
Among its credentials as a Popemobile and reliable worker, the Nissan Frontier can add ‘defender of the manual.’ Unlike the Gladiator, however, the Frontier isn’t quite as all-in when it comes to rowing your own gears.
Only the base King Cab and Crew Cab S trim Frontiers have a manual option. And you can’t have it with all-wheel drive, again, unlike the Jeep. But owners can take some solace in the fact that their new manual truck has more speeds than the automatic. An updated Frontier won’t arrive until late 2020 as a 2021 model—let’s hope Nissan doesn’t follow Ram and Chevrolet in ditching the stick.
In contrast to Nissan, Toyota fully embraces off-roaders who drive with three pedals. Although the Toyota Tacoma is available in both 4×2 and 4×4 trims, the only way to get a manual is to get all-wheel drive.
In fact, Toyota doubles down on providing off-road enthusiasts with a stick-shift. Only the TRD Pro, TRD Off-road, and TRD Sport trims of the Tacoma get one. With the TRD Pro making an excellent Jeep Gladiator rival, and considering how long Tacoma’s last, we’ll hopefully seeing this new manual truck for quite some time.