AskTFL: Does a Manual Transmission Affect Your Truck’s Tow Capacity?

There are only a couple of pickup trucks that even offer manual transmissions anymore, and if you opt for one, will it affect your tow capacity?

That is the question posed to us this week by Mark, asking specifically about the tow rating on the new Jeep Gladiator.

First, lets list the trucks that even offer a manual today, those being the Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. That’s it. The Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon dropped the manual option this year (which was reserved for basic two-wheel drive trucks), and the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty pickups also ditched the manual.

When looking at tow ratings, two of these trucks are affected by the manual and one isn’t, though payload ratings are different between the two transmissions in all trucks, though not in the way you might expect.

The Jeep Gladiator Sport and Overland can tow 4,000-pounds when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, falling short of what the automatic can do. In the Sport, auto-equipped Gladiators can pull up to 7,650 pounds, while Overland models without a third pedal are good for 6,000 pounds.

Tow rating for the Rubicon with a manual is rated at 4,500 pounds, while automatic trucks can pull 7,000 pounds.

Looking at the Gladiator’s payload specifications reveals that Gladiators with manual transmissions can handle more payload than automatic models. Payload maxes out at 1,600 pounds in the Sport model with a manual, while the most basic Sport with an automatic and 3.73 rear end can handle just 1,195 pound of payload. In the case of the Overland and Rubicon, the difference is 20 and 40 pounds in payload respectively in favor of the manual.

Toyota’s Tacoma is a different story, listing the same tow rating regardless of transmission, ranging from 6,400 to 6,800 pounds depending on configuration.

2016 toyota tacoma extreme towing test v6

Interestingly, the payload story is the opposite of the Jeep, with manual-equipped Tacoma models having lower payload ratings than auto models.

A 4×4 Tacoma Access Cab is rated at 1,155 pounds of payload with a manual, and just a little more at 1,175 pounds with an automatic. It’s not by much, but the automatic Tacoma is the one to get for slightly higher payload ratings.

Over at Nissan, opting for the manual transmission will add between 10 and 30 pounds to the tow ratings. Payload ratings are also slightly higher when you opt for the manual as well, by roughly 10 to 20 pounds.

So it seems there is not blanket answer for whether or not a manual affects your tow ratings. The key is to research the specific vehicle you’re looking at and see what the manufacturer says.

Don’t miss our video testing the new Jeep Gladiator with a trailer behind it below.