We finally got a chance to tow with a 2021 Toyota Tacoma manual – and it was…
Towing a combined weight of 5,000-lbs, Andre got a chance to tow with a Toyota Tacoma over about 50 miles. The Toyota Tacoma with a manual transmission is kind of a rare breed nowadays. Only Toyota and Jeep offer manual transmissions in their midsize trucks. During the drive, we’ll focus on how the Tacoma handles towing, along with technical information and a total real-world MPG number.
There is no standard factory-installed towing brake controller, so we used our remote brake controller and a GenY Glider hitch. Despite some noticeable squat, the load is well-balanced and comes in well under the Tacoma’s 6,400 lbs towing limit.
Not exactly a rocket in the Rockies.
Our Tacoma tester is the TRD Pro 4X4, so its suspension is better suited for off-road bouncing rather than towing. Still, it provides a great ride, good stability, and is competent for basic towing. It comes standard with the 278 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that makes 265 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, it is a bit anemic up in the Rocky Mountains. It works well enough, but a turbo-diesel is a better choice up here.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a Toyota Tacoma manual: price, economy, capability, and towing. There is an approximate difference of $1,800 between getting a manual over an automatic, so you save dough on the manual. Although both can tow, the automatic’s gearing is actually not as good as the manual’s for towing – especially off the line. Toyota sells WAY more automatic transmissions in their Tacomas, so finding a manual in a desirable trim is difficult. The automatic transmission returns better fuel economy too. It gets a combined 20 mpg vs. 18 mpg for the manual.
Keep in mind: the manual is geared differently than the automatic, with a 4.30:1 rear end, it has a 44 to 1 crawl ratio (in 4LO). This is great for off-roading, which we did in a separate review on TFLoffroad.
It’s a shame that there are so few manual transmissions available in trucks today. Andre had a blast rowing his own gears, and some of our staff swear by manual transmissions. Hopefully, we can do a similar test on a Jeep Gladiator with a manual transmission soon!