Why Aren’t There More Heavy Duty Pickups with Manual Transmissions? [Ask TFLtruck]

2017 ram hd manual transmission
Ram HD with a manual transmission

We recently received the following question about testing heavy duty trucks with manual transmissions, and it got us thinking. Why aren’t there more HD trucks out there with a manual transmission option?

We where wondering if you guys could do some kind of test with the Ram HD featuring three trucks with the three different transmission options. Viewers could see what the difference is in the real world versus just looking at the numbers. Being a manual transmission guy, I know that it will be slower and most likely lose due to the lower power numbers and loss of time shifting. Ram still makes the manual, and it would be fun to see how it stacks up. Long-haul guys have been relying on manual dodges for years to haul all kinds of heavy stuff and still do today. There are many of these trucks that have outlasted multiple rebuilds on auto transmission trucks. I was thinking the test would be towing whatever the maximum the manual Ram HD would tow, then use the same load on the other two trucks. If you guys could make something like this happen that would be awesome.

Thanks Mickey

The short answer is: yes, we would love to test a Ram HD truck with a manual transmission and see how it stacks up against the automatics!

The long answer is: it’s difficult to find a heavy duty pickup with a manual transmission for testing, it’s even harder to find a truck that is comparable in configuration to another truck with an automatic (i.e. crew cab 4×4). There are other issues with a direct comparison of a Ram HD with a manual transmission versus an HD truck with an automatic. The 6.7L Cummins I6 engine that is paired with the G56 6-speed manual transmission has a lower output: 350 hp @ 2,800 rpm and 660 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm. This is basically a commercial grade HD truck configuration (class 4 or class 5), although you can still get a Ram 2500 or 3500 with this power train. (By the way, power rating for commercial trucks is performed on a chassis dyno, not an engine dyno).

The next level up is the 6.7L Cummins with 370 hp @ 2,800 rpm and 800 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm that is paired with Ram’s 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission.  Finally, the high output 6.7L Cummins produces 385 hp @ 2,800 rpm and 900 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700 rpm.  This engine is mated to an AS69RC 6-speed automatic transmission by Aisin.

Still, the question remains. Why don’t Ford and GM sell HD pickup trucks with manual transmissions? To Mickey’s point, manual transmissions can be more durable and more cost effective. It must have to do with customer demand. If enough people asked for it, these trucks will be out there.

What do you think?