Video: Manual or Automatic – Which New 2024 Toyota Tacoma Is the BEST? Let’s Go Off-Road!

The manual is $800 cheaper.

2024 toyota tacoma trd off-road manual vs automatic transmission comparison review

Toyota continues to offer a 6-speed manual transmission in the all-new 2024 Toyota Tacoma. Which new TRD Off-Road Tacoma is the best – is it the one with a manual or the one with an 8-speed automatic? I drive them both back to back on the same off-road trail to find out. Please join me.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

The 2024 Tacoma is actually all new. It has a new chassis, new suspension design, new powertrain, new interior, and new technology. It also costs about $3,000 more than the outgoing model. Is it worth it? Did Toyota actually improve the off-road capability of the new TRD Off-Road model? Let’s take a look at the numbers first.

This comparison is focused on the Toyota Tacoma double cab (crew cab) TRD Off-Road models with a short bed (5-foot bed).

2024 Tacoma2023 Tacoma
Approach Angle32.5 deg32 deg
Breakover Angle24.7 deg21 deg
Departure Angle22.2 deg23.5 deg
Ground Clearance11 in9.4 in
Turn Diameter42.2 ft40.6 ft
Crawl Ratio (man. trans)4.784 x 4.30 x 2.57 = 52.9:144:1
Crawl Ratio (auto. trans)4.413 x 3.583 x 2.57 = 40.6:136.2:1

Toyota improved a lot of the specifications, most importantly the ground clearance and the breakover angle. It’s puzzling how the new Tacoma has such an improved breakover angle when the new wheelbase is about 4.5 inches longer. We will check this with the Toyota engineering team and update this story.

The new powertrain has a LOT more torque and the transmission provides lower gearing for superior crawl ratios!

Here is how the power output breaks out for the new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Tacoma (w/ Manual Trans.)270 hp @ 5,400 rpm310 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm
Tacoma (w/ Auto Trans.)278 hp @ 6,000 rpm317 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm

As you can see – lots of torque is available at relatively low rpm. This is good for off-road driving.

Manual Transmission

I found the new Tacoma with the manual transmission and its 53:1 crawl ratio to be very confident in off-road driving. The first gear is almost too low for most situations (1st “granny” gear) while the transfer case is in a low range. I found myself getting going in second gear many times. Having low 1st-crawler-gear capability is good for slowly moving over rocky terrain and climbing dirt hills at near-idle engine speed. This is also good for descending hills at slow speeds without using brakes.

Toyota says that about 6% of current Tacoma owners choose a manual transmission. It means that Toyota currently sells around 14,000 manual transmission Tacomas per year. Toyota hopes this percentage grows in the new generation. The new transmission is easy to operate, and it offers iMT rev-matching and an anti-stall feature.

The only other new pickup truck in the USA with a manual transmission option is the Jeep Gladiator.

Automatic Transmission

The new 8-speed automatic transmission also provides a better crawl ratio than the outgoing 6-speed automatic. The new transmission is very smooth and quick shifting. It also provides the latest Crawl Control feature that is quiet and very smooth. The old noisy system is a thing of the past.

As much as I enjoy shifting my own gears, I found myself just a little more relaxed in the Tacoma with the automatic transmission while off-road. Perhaps, I am out of practice or I am getting older and lazier?

The manual transmission is about $800 cheaper than the automatic. If I was being very frugal, then I would choose the manual. On the other hand, the new turbo+automatic combination works very well together. This combination can also be a bit more efficient in most driving situations. I would spend a little more and get the automatic in the end. What would you do?