By G.R. Whale
For decades, pickup truck owners changed gears by using a lever mounted in the floor or on the steering column along with a clutch. But manual shifters have lost traction with consumers and automakers due to cost, electronic efficiencies and good old American traffic, making automatic transmissions more popular. So today's question is: How will you shift your next pickup?
For do-it-yourself enthusiasts, only the mid-size pickups — except the Honda Ridgeline — and Ram heavy-duty diesels offer a manual transmission. Pickups with manual transmissions usually cost less and some folks find them easier to work on. Insurance actuaries should offer premium discounts for them as anti-theft devices because fewer drivers know how to use a manual transmission.
Most U.S. pickups come standard with an automatic. Gear shifters can be found on the steering column or on the center control panel with mechanisms ranging from levers to rotating knobs to thumb switches to paddles. And if cars are any indication, push-button gear shifters will be found on future pickups.
So looking to the future, what kind of gear shifter do you prefer? And how do you want it to perform? Do you want a lever? If you do, where should it be mounted and do you want a button release? Do you want to pick a gear directly or move the lever to manual first? Do you want shift paddles or buttons? Should software downshift the tranny one or two gears automatically when you switch from auto to manual? Just how much control do you want?
There's a lot to consider, so you better sound off in the comments section below before the truckmakers start making the decisions for you.
Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan; manufacturer image