Pickup Trucks and Transmissions

Hi folks, hoping for some more good advice…
Owned several truck/SUV’s back in the '80’s and '90’s, all but one had a manual transmission and worked great. The last one was a '95 Chevy Blazer with an auto and I was always dissatisfied with its acceleration and (rightly or wrongly) blamed it on the auto transmission pairing with the 4x4.
Starting to look for a pick up, don’t need heavy towing capacity but need to have room for the kids, so looking for a Tacoma or something like that. Wondering what people think about manual vs auto transmissions in the light truck category these days. Were my conclusions about my old Blazer off-base?
Thanks in advance

If you’re going to be towing or hauling…then get the automatic. Automatics are much stronger and can tow/haul a lot more then a manual.

The automatic in the Tacoma is the same as the 4runner. My 4runner’s transmission is EXCELLENT. Never had a problem…and no problem with acceleration.

In a truck, I’ll take the automatic every time. Most trucks tend to have heavy, clutches and long throw, very vague shifting. The manual in a Honda S2000 is great and wonderful thing. The manual in most trucks (which is becoming a rarity) does not positively add to the driving experience IMHO.

Your Blazer (if it was full sized) was slow because it was making due with the TBI 350, which was reliable, but underpowered. The 1996+ models with the LT1 based 350 were much better. I don’t recall the 1995 S-10 Blazer as being particularly underpowered. It was actually a little quicker than it’s primary competition.

If you just want something to drive around in, there is no shortage of power. You don’t even need the five or six speed automatic.

Since you say you aren’t going to be towing, I’d get the manual transmission.

I’ve been considering the four cylinder Tacoma for my next vehicle, but since I’m contemplating using it to tow light loads, I’ll probably go with an automatic.

Gas mileage differences between smaller pickups and full size pickups are small these days. I’d look and a half ton with a crew cab and short bed. The Nissan, Siverado small V8, Tacoma, and F150 EcoBoost get identical highway mileage and the Tacoma is just 1MPG better in town. The Silverado is new for 2014. Compare it to the outgoing model to see if paying full price is worth it. If you don’t tow or carry heavy loads, consider the Honda Ridgeline.

I have an automatic in my early 70’s Ford 4x4 truck, and have always wished I had a manual, with one very low gear, what they used to call “compound”. I don’t like having to step on the brakes to keep the truck still at stop lights is one reason. Another is the auto increases the heat load on the cooling system, which causes the engine to start to overheat at times, like when uphill 4 wheeling on hot days, forcing me to stop and wait for it the engine to cool down. And I could get better fuel economy/better 0-60 times with a manual. Also, there is considerably less routine maintenance involved with a manual. No dropping the pan to change the fluid and replace the filter, a very messy and not-fun job. Another thing, I have a limited slip rear differential, and with the auto I get a jerk/bang when I shift from forward to reverse, as the diff clutches slip to take up the slack. With a manual I could control this and eliminate or minimize the jerk/bang. Finally, the most common repair for a manual xmssion is the clutch, which is a job I could do myself in my home driveway. When the auto fails, and it does, I’m forced to use a transmission shop on their time-frame and at considerable expense. I’d prefer to use that money for more off-roading fun, rather than to the auto-transmission shop.

I do see one advantage of an auto. Sometimes I need to pull out a bush or tree stump by tying a chain around the trailer hitch and around the stump. By putting the truck in 4 wheel drive LO, putting the auto xmssion in Lo, a whole lot of force can be exerted, and I can slowly and surely, as slow as I like, pull on the stump 'til it gives way, without having to worry about burning out the clutch.

Still, all in all, given the compromises, I’d prefer a manual. Let me ask you this? Would a real-life old west cowboy be seen driving a truck with an automatic transmission?

“Would a real-life old west cowboy be seen driving a truck with an automatic transmission?”
@GeorgeSanJose–In all the westerns I watched, the cowboys rode horses and I never saw a cowboy depress a clutch and shift a horse from a trot to a canter to a full gallop. This makes me think that the horses had automatic transmissions.

Do some shopping, you may not find many manuals. Me, I’d get the automatic.

Most of the disatisfaction with automatics lies in whats under the hood,rather then whats under the hump,modern autos are simply great.Go row a Maxitorque tranny all day and you will appreciate a good Allison automatic.We had an old Ford pickup with a FMX auto ,tough but unloveable.-Kevin

GeorgeSanJose - Things have changed a little since the early '70s

Driven commercial vehicles with Allison automatics, none of them could touch the 10 speed ZF automatics. The lag free response of the ZF is safer in a pickup with an empty bed in the rain. Pickups trucks should have something like that.

While Roy Rogers and Dale Evans rode horses, their side kick drive a Jeep CJ, not a pickup.

Probaly couldnt touch a ZF,however these Allisons have been around for ever and seem to be pretty good,these trucks with the Duramax dont seem to have any transmission issues,BTW-what over the road trucks have ZF trannys?-FMI-Kevin

That is also my question

In our fleet all of our class 7 and 8 vehicles either have an EatonFuller manual trans or an Allison auto trans.