The Pros and Cons of Towing with a Manual Transmission 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

by parker
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The Toyota Tacoma has long been known for its off-road capabilities and rugged design. In recent years, the manual transmission option has become increasingly rare in the truck market. However, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro still offers a six-speed manual transmission, allowing for a unique towing experience.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of towing with a manual transmission in the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. We will also explore the fuel efficiency, handling, and overall towing performance of this truck.

The Manual Transmission Option

Having a manual transmission in a truck like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is a rare find in today’s market. In fact, only a few manufacturers offer manual transmissions in their trucks. Toyota is one of them, making it a desirable choice for those who prefer the control and engagement that manual shifting provides.

The manual transmission in the Tacoma TRD Pro has a lower first gear and a 4.30:1 rear differential ratio, resulting in a total crawl ratio of 44:1. This gearing setup gives the truck more power off the line when towing, which is beneficial for tackling steep hills or off-road terrain.

Performance and Fuel Efficiency

To test the towing performance of the Tacoma TRD Pro, the reviewer used a 5000-pound trailer attached to the truck. While the truck did not have a built-in brake controller, they used a Prodigy RF system to control the trailer’s brakes manually.

Setting off on a 50-mile journey, the reviewer reported that the truck had no major issues during the towing trip. The fuel efficiency, however, did decrease due to the added weight of the trailer. The truck averaged 11.8 mpg, while it achieved around 17 mpg in the city without the trailer.

It’s important to note that the Tacoma TRD Pro is not specifically designed for heavy towing. It can handle light to moderate towing tasks, but those who regularly tow heavy loads may find that a diesel-powered mid-sized truck, such as a Gladiator or Chevy Colorado, offers more torque and better towing capabilities.

Pros of Towing with a Manual Transmission

  1. Control and Engagement: With a manual transmission, the driver has more control over gear selection, allowing for a more engaged driving experience.
  2. Off-Road Capabilities: The slower gearing of a manual transmission can be advantageous for off-road driving, as it allows for better control and maneuverability when navigating steep inclines or obstacles.
  3. Lower Initial Cost: Manual transmission trucks often have a lower starting price compared to their automatic counterparts, making them more budget-friendly for certain buyers.

Cons of Towing with a Manual Transmission

  1. Fuel Efficiency: Manual transmissions generally have lower fuel efficiency ratings compared to automatic transmissions. In the case of the Tacoma TRD Pro, the manual transmission model has a combined fuel efficiency rating of 18 mpg, while the automatic transmission model achieves 20 mpg.
  2. Limited Availability: Manual transmissions are becoming increasingly rare in the truck market. As a result, the choices are limited, and buyers may have to compromise on certain features or trim levels to get a manual transmission option.
  3. Less Torque: While the Tacoma TRD Pro with a manual transmission offers decent towing capabilities, it may struggle with heavier loads due to its lower torque output compared to diesel-powered trucks.


In conclusion, towing with a manual transmission in the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro offers a unique and engaging experience. The manual transmission provides control and flexibility, making it ideal for off-road enthusiasts and those who enjoy the satisfaction of rolling through the gears. However, it’s important to consider the limitations, such as decreased fuel efficiency and lower torque output, especially when towing heavier loads.

Ultimately, the decision between an automatic or manual transmission comes down to personal preference and specific towing needs. Buyers who prioritize ease of use and fuel efficiency may lean towards an automatic transmission, while those who value control and engagement may opt for a manual transmission. Regardless of the choice, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro provides a capable and reliable truck for both towing and off-road adventures.

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