Ram Still Makes a Full-Size Truck With a Manual Transmission–You Just Can’t Buy 1 in the US
The 2022 Ram 4000 is a very special pickup truck. It is the last manual transmission truck Ram builds. But if you want a stick shift truck, you’re out of luck. You can only buy the Ram 4000 in Mexico.
Ram sold its last manual transmission in the U.S. in 2018
There was a time (the 1940s) when every pickup truck came with a manual transmission. Later (the 1950s), all the truck manufacturers began offering the newfangled automatic transmission as an expensive option.
Fast-forward to the 2000s, and nearly every pickup truck buyer was opting for an automatic transmission. Ram was one of the last manual-transmission holdouts. The last full-size truck with a manual transmission you could buy in the U.S. was the Ram 2500 with the G56 six-speed behind the Cummins turbodiesel.
But wait! Ram still is building a heavy-duty truck with a manual transmission for the Mexican market. You might expect it to be the old Ram 2500 with a Cummins and six-speed. But it’s not. It’s a completely different truck with a different engine and different transmission.
The 2022 Ram 4000 has a manual transmission
The 2022 Ram 4000 is the last Ram truck with a manual transmission. It is a cab and chassis fleet truck sold in Mexico.
The regular-cab Ram 4000 shares the 5.7L HEMI V8 with the Ram 1500. But it also shares its heavy-duty frame and dual rear wheels with the Ram 3500.
The dualie truck has extra thick leaf springs to increase its payload capacity. While it can only tow 14,969 pounds, this truck has a dizzying payload capacity of 6,402 pounds.
And finally, the Ram 4000’s 5.7L HEMI V8 puts its power to the rear wheels through the Tremec TR4050 five-speed manual transmission. The 4WD versions get the 66RFE automatic.
A stick shift Ram made differently for the Mexican market
For buyers used to United States Ram products, the Ram 4000 may sound like a bit of a Frankenstein truck. So what’s going on here?
Firstly, Mopar Insiders reports that towing is not as critical for a work truck in Mexcio. Instead, a competitive heavy-duty truck needs to have a high load capacity. It also must be able to haul those loads to very high elevations. For this reason, the Ram 4000’s V8 is tuned to run well at altitude. Ram 4000s get pressed into duty wearing everything from stakeside bodies to short buses.
But why the manual transmission? The 5.7L is a more fuel-efficient engine than the Ram 2500 and 3500’s 6.4L V8 and much cheaper than their $9K Cummins turbodiesel upgrade. But to be blunt, it’s a tad weak for heavy-duty use.
Automakers have long been offering underpowered trucks with entry-level engines and manual transmissions. Why? Well if you’re willing to shift an awful lot, you can usually get a V8 job done with just a slant-six.
This spec–once common in the U.S.–is now less popular here. But it is still a good way to get a low-dollar work truck. And obviously, it’s still popular elsewhere.
As of the 2021 model year, it appears Ram equips the four-door Ram 4000 with the 6.4L HEMI V8 and an automatic transmission. So perhaps, the days of the manual-transmission Ram 4000 are numbered. But for now, it’s nice to know this manual Ram exists–even if we can’t buy one.