The Pros and Cons of Towing with a Manual Transmission: A Review of the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

by parker
YouTube video

When it comes to towing, many people opt for an automatic transmission truck for its ease of use and higher fuel efficiency. However, there are still a few trucks on the market that offer a manual transmission option, including the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. In this article, we will dive into the experience of towing with a manual transmission truck and discuss the key points and considerations to keep in mind.


The 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, making it a unique option in a market dominated by automatic transmissions. The truck’s towing capabilities are put to the test in a towing review conducted by The Fast Lane Truck. The review aims to evaluate the fuel efficiency and overall towing experience of the Tacoma TRD Pro.

Towing Setup

For the towing review, the reviewer has chosen to tow a 5,000-pound load using an Iron Bull flat deck trailer and a Can-Am Defender 6×6. The trailer weighs approximately 3,000 pounds, while the Can-Am Defender weighs around 2,000 pounds, resulting in a total weight of 5,000 pounds.

Starting the Truck and Engaging the Gears

Before hitting the road, the reviewer highlights the simplicity of the 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro’s key and clutch pedal. Although the truck features a clutch cancel start button, the reviewer opts to use the clutch in the regular way. The manual transmission truck is geared differently from its automatic counterpart, with a 4.30:1 rear differential and a lower first gear. This gearing provides better control and power when towing.

Fuel Efficiency and Performance

During the towing trip, the reviewer reports the fuel efficiency of the truck. Prior to the review, the truck achieved approximately 17 mpg according to the trip meter. The review aims to determine if towing affects the fuel efficiency of the Tacoma TRD Pro. As the reviewer accelerates and navigates hilly terrains, the truck performs well but is not the fastest option, primarily due to the V6 engine losing some power at higher altitudes. However, the manual transmission allows for precise gear changes, providing the driver with a sense of control.

Towing Capabilities and Considerations

To ensure proper towing, the reviewer uses a Gen Y hitch, specifically designed for lighter trailers. The hitch’s torsion axle provides additional cushioning, improving the towing experience. It is important to note that the Tacoma TRD Pro can tow up to 6,400 pounds, making towing a 5,000-pound load well within its capabilities. The manual transmission’s lower gearing also enhances its towing prowess.

Choosing between Manual and Automatic Transmissions

In the towing review, the reviewer highlights the dwindling popularity of manual transmission trucks. Currently, only two manufacturers offer manual transmissions in their trucks. Toyota is one of them, providing manual transmission options for all Tacoma trims, including the TRD Pro. Although automatic transmissions are generally more fuel-efficient, manual transmissions offer increased control, making them preferable for those who enjoy off-roading and rock crawling. Nevertheless, potential buyers must consider their specific towing needs when deciding between manual and automatic transmissions.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, the Tacoma TRD Pro with a manual transmission proves to be a capable towing truck, although it may not be the most ideal choice for heavy towing. The truck lacks a built-in brake controller, which can be a disadvantage for those who frequently tow trailers. However, the reviewer enjoyed the towing experience, particularly the ability to manually shift gears and the overall sense of control. The Tacoma TRD Pro’s fuel efficiency showed a slight decrease while towing, but it performed admirably with a 5,000-pound load.


Towing with a manual transmission truck, such as the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, has its pros and cons. While automatic transmissions offer convenience and higher fuel efficiency, manual transmissions provide greater control and a more engaging driving experience. The Tacoma TRD Pro proves to be a capable tow vehicle, albeit with some limitations. It excels in off-road scenarios and offers better gearing for towing, but potential buyers must consider their towing needs and the lack of a built-in brake controller. Ultimately, the decision between a manual or automatic transmission should be based on individual preferences and specific requirements.

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