Talking Trucks Tuesday: A Paradigm Shift?

Raptor shifterMW2 II

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

Comments

BMW and Mercedes for 10 years have had shifters that are way better than the handles available in US built cars and trucks.

As far as transmissions go, the manual is still my favorite by a mile, but Detroit disagrees and there's no sign of that changing.

Manual is by far more rewarding to drive. Since that's pretty much gone, I like the console mounted shifter. If nothing else, It's a convenient hand rest. Paddle shifters are stupid, there's really no reason to manually shift an auto. The novelty of it wears off in a 1/2 hour or so and it never gets touched again.

Where I came from about 90% is stick shifts but I don
t mind an automatic, I actually prefer it now. I will never buy a truck/car with push button or turn knob shifters though, I want a real lever!

@papa, good point this is because those manufactures are ahead of the US by a long shot....

for me, I want to go autonomous...

manual

So what is so special about BMW and Mercedes' shifters?

I would much rather have a manual transmission, a seven-speed would be just fine.

But I don't get why Ram doesn't make it an option to have a column shift or if you get a console, a shifter there.

I can do without a console on a full size truck.

Love the my console mounted auto that's able to manually shift on my tundra. Use it all the time to slowdown without brakes and downshift to change lanes with a stronger pull, also to bypass cruise control logic and hold a gear while pulling a trailer up a hill or even to hold a higher gear longer than cruise control can, for better mpg. Regardless of what other people think, to be able to manual shift my auto is awesome. I think paddle shifters on the trucks is lame though as opposed to a console shifter

@TRX-4 Tom,
I agree with your thoughts on NO CONSOLE... my '02 F-150 Lariat SuperCrew is a auto w/ column shifter and no console on the floor. I like the extra legroom, the cab feels more roomy and there is plenty of storage under the armrest between the bucket seats.

Bonus is having the ability to check out my wife's legs from either front seat on our date nights. Vavoom!

Future trucks (all sizes), I don't care what form of shifter there is so long as I can avoid the floor console.

Rather have a Manual.

I like console mounted shifters, I would be disapointed if the industry moved towards the wheel, joystick (ie no mechanical link to the trans), or pushbutton system. This all seams like a bunch of "change for the sake of change" rhetoric, and especially for trucks, is a terrible idea.

As far as manual modes, I want a true manual mode, i.e. if I select a specific gear, I want the transmission to be IN THAT GEAR when I select it unless doing so will stall the car. My old Jetta did this perfectly, if I selected 6th gear on city streets the transmission shifted into 6th gear until RPMs dropped to the point the car was shuddering or if I came to a complete stop, then it would select a lower gear. That is the whole reason for having a manual mode on a truck, so that you can lock out a gear and pull lower RPMs on hills etc. If the selected gear is just a "suggestion" for the truck, then it does no good.

I would really love to see a reliable/strong dual clutch automated manual gearbox (DSG etc.) in a truck, that would be nirvana.

In the end though, manufacturers will do what they want to

My preference is manual.

For auto, it is hard to beat the lever on the steering column, it is out of the way when you don't need it.

Second choice would be a dial, but not like RAM's version. It should be a PentaStar shape (why didn't RAM do that?) so that it doesn't get confused with radio/HVAC knobs, and should have a firm feel to it. Additionally, it should have lockout mechanisms and a clear gear indicator so idiots don't kill themselves and get the knob banned.

Center console would be my last choice, because it takes up so much space, unnecessarily so. I would choose push-button over center console, just to save space. The space gained could be used for storage cubbies and/or a middle-seat option for a small person. In tight parking spots, it can be handy to be able to slide across the front seat to get out via the other door.

Center-console shifters became popular among people who wanted to feel like they were driving a stick, but couldn't. They are a waste of space.

For towing, it would be nice to have some form of individual gear selector (paddle shifter?) to maintain proper gear on hills, etc.

Back in the day I loved driving a manual transmission, but now I have a steering column mounted shifter which I prefer over the floor mounted console style.

You loose passenger and leg room with the center mounted floor console shifter.

Console shifters take up room for other features, and allow spilled drinks to get into critical linkages and wiring harnesses. I've always preferred a column shifter.

Automatic trans with manual gear selection just like my 8 speed Silverado has. Now when it comes to sports cars, manual shift all the way, even if it means being fractionally slower at the drag strip. Manuals are too much fun, love'em.

Mercedes and BMW

@TRX-4 Tom

Their design is way ahead. Example. When I drive my wife's X5, you pull into the garage or a parking space.

Select the e-brake "on", then push the button to shut off the motor.

The trans automatically shifts into park.

Shifting from D to Reverse is equally intuitive. No detents or screwing around. Fords we've had with the floor shift were friendly enough, but those with the column shift felt cheap and were noisy. My Chevy's column shift is ok, but makes no sound at all when shifting from R to Park or D.

Minus the preference for the German approach, I'd want a console floor shift even if it does use some seat space because you can back up/go forward without having to reach for the lever, it's right there next to your hand.

These are small complaints but I must underline my choice for manual. Give me the 3-pedal floorboard.

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My preference is a column shift with a bench seat (today, the 40/20/40) and no console. On the other hand, I MUCH prefer a floor-shift transfer case to the electronic dash-mounted controls. The t-case shifter isn't dead center like a transmission shifter, so the center passenger has a shot at sitting normally.

Truck talk Tuesday? How about the spy shots of the 2019 Silverado? Looks like they are copying Ford with their side windows and do I spy round wheel wells???

@ RoadTrip "My preference is a column shift with a bench seat (today, the 40/20/40) and no console. On the other hand, I MUCH prefer a floor-shift transfer case to the electronic dash-mounted controls. The t-case shifter isn't dead center like a transmission shifter, so the center passenger has a shot at sitting normally."

That's a really good answer, too!

2019 Silverado

Our spy photographer reports:

Quote

Judging from the heavily disguised prototypes we caught being loaded into car hauler at a General Motors test facility, it appears that we’ve seen the first sign of testing for the next-generation Chevy Silverado pickup. Of the two prototypes spotted so far, both are Crew Cabs, while one looks to have the short bed while the other has the full-size bed configuration.

Engineers parked a current single cab Silverado pickup alongside the loading platform, in an effort to shield the prototype from prying eyes. While it blocked a portion of the prototype, the truck also provided a nice opportunity to see the all-new truck next to today’s model.

Our sources at AutoPacific tell us that this new Silverado is accelerating it’s efforts to create an aluminum-intensive body to match the Ford F-series trucks. The next-gen truck—reportedly being developed with the internal code name T1XC—is expected to reach the market in late 2018, as a 2019 model. Our sources tell us that GM has made great efforts to refine its production processes with these lightweight materials, and promises a lighter, stronger, and more efficient truck than its competitors.

It will be interesting to see how the next Silverado ultimately stacks up against the F-150, and how GM will spin their current criticism of aluminum intensive trucks when they have one of their own. Now that we know that next-generation Silverado prototypes exist, we’ll be on the lookout to catch them on the road. Stay tuned. - Glen Paulina

@budsy47, I just did a search o this topic, and I love how on MSN autos they said, they thought it was a F150 because of the dropdown in the front windows(A ford staple), then we realized it was a CHevy do to the squarish wheel wells.....HAHAHA this could spell bad news for Chevy/GMC, or maybe good news, if they copy Ford enough, they could gain in the sales department maybe???

if they copy Ford enough, they could gain in the sales department

@nitro

Considering the GM outsold Ford by 100k trucks in 2016 their gains will really be exciting.

In fact, one can only wonder if they'll be even farther ahead of Ford by then.

Woopud, where do u see dipped side windows...it's camo/ I dislike console shifters...gets in way, always hit my drink on it.

I agree with Long Boat and for all the reasons he gave...

@papa, oh, I did not realize GM made a truck? I was referring to the brands in second and third place behind Ford. They are known as, Chevy and GMC, theres a monthly article posted on here where they show the sales figures, you should check it out.

GM only outsells anyone in trucks if you include certain trucks but not others. So dishonest like the msm!

trucks (pickups + vans): Ford outsells everyone

full-size: Ford oustells Silverado and Sierra combined

midsize" GM outsells Ford because Ford isn't in that market. But Toyota outsells Colorado and Canyon combined.

vans: Ford best selling commercial van, Ford Transit

GM Authority is reporting that the 2019 Silverado looks like a F-150.

And now you have the rest of the story!

I have 5 vehicles.
They all have a manual transmission (MT).
"I would never leave home without one." (^_^).
If new vehicles are no longer made with an MT, I will buy used....even if I have to source back into the 1950's to do so.

So:My answer is as simple as "1-2-3":
1) Manual Transmission
2) 5 or 6-Speed (or 7, if it becomes generally available)
3) Floor mounted shifter

Kudo's to Ram for keeping the MT in the Diesel 2500.
I look forward to the upcoming gasoline 600-HP Helllcat Ram with 6-speed MT!!!
Jim Morrison (Ram chief) : I already have my nice fat check waiting for you. Please hurry: I ain't getting nay younger!

===========================

I would prefer a stick, but since that's not an option I don't see any reason to fill up the cab with a great big lever that doesn't actually do anything. My Prius has a little tiny lever on the dash that works perfectly well for choosing drive, neutral, park or reverse, and it's out of the way and leaves the steering column clear for wipers and hi-low beam levers.

Scootin' around on snowy roads with a manual transmission in my truck is a blast. Long live the many tranny.

Bring back the 3 speed column shift. AKA "3 on the tree." OK this is my first joke on this site. Sorry to annoy anyone. I kind of dream about that shifter arrangement I learned how to drive a manual transmission on from my dads 1962 Ford Falcon. What's even more funny is that the transmission was so small and light that I didn't need a floor jack to lower it when we replaced it. I used my tricep muscles to lower it down to the floor.

But seriously though, I can understand how when the manufacturers start to limit manual transmissions, the lack of choice get's annoying. I am leaning toward an automatic because the manual shift stick coming up from the floor limits being able to seat a third person up front. So a modern manual 6 on the tree, ie column, would make some sense in that case. Kind of crazy, but think about that one. Ha!

My 2014 Ram is the first truck I have owned that doesn't have a manual transmission. I mourn the loss of manual transmissions in half ton trucks. However, as automatics go, the 8-Speed in my Ram works fairly well. I like the rotary shifter. If a mechanical shifter isn't needed, then why have a vestigial appendage taking up space.

A manual shifter enhances the driving experience. The driver in more attuned to the vehicle he is piloting. An automatic transmission is more in line with the reality of today's traffic. All the driver needs to do is just gas and brake. I learned to drive on a manual but I prefer an automatic. Just don't make that automatic transmission a CVT.
I'm more concerned with the ever shrinking pickup bed. 8 foot, 6 foot beds have some use. 5 and 4 foot useless balconies appended to the rear of a SUV do not.

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
/QUOTE

Yeah like manufacturers will listen to what we want..lol
Btw
Should have made this a poll,,so we could see what everyone likes without reading thru all the silly posts..ie
1 automatic
2 standard
3 floor shifter
4 column shifter
---
Me
I dont want any transmision I want electric hybrid with no more then one or two gears and smalest diesel generator preferably with Coates rotary valves
http://www.coatesengine.com

Now lets see who will build this first,,my money is on Chinese

@papa, oh, I did not realize GM made a truck? I was referring to the brands in second and third place behind Ford. They are known as, Chevy and GMC, theres a monthly article posted on here where they show the sales figures, you should check it out.

Posted by: Nitro | Jan 31, 2017 2:39:52 PM

@papa, I'll take this from here :
GM builds trucks, Ford builds trucks, GM sells more trucks. Any questions?

I'm Old School because I still prefer manual transmissions.

It's 2017, manual transmissions have no usefulness anymore. The manually trannys they put in trucks from roughly 1989 to 2008 were complete junk. The older Borg-Warner T-18 and T-19's were great, but all the mazda stuff they started using in the 80's is crap.

Even big rigs mostly use automatics now...

I used to like them, and they were fun when I was a kid, but I could not imagine having to commute with one. And pulling a boat out of the water with one, please...

My dad had a 2001 Ram 1500 with a 318 and 5 speed stick, it was a nightmare to try to sell it in 2004, no one wanted one with a stick even then.

@Dave

You must have confused this with your regular website. This one is called Pickuptrucks.com

Not Pickups.and.vans.com

Easy mistake. Have a great day.

It's called that but it covers vans and has since 2010.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/07/which-automaker-sells-the-most-vans.html

Educate yourself.

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/vans/

GM only outsells anyone in trucks if you include certain trucks but not others. So dishonest like the msm!

trucks (pickups + vans): Ford outsells everyone

full-size: Ford oustells Silverado and Sierra combined

midsize" GM outsells Ford because Ford isn't in that market. But Toyota outsells Colorado and Canyon combined.

vans: Ford best selling commercial van, Ford Transit
Posted by: Dave | Jan 31, 2017 3:12:54 PM

Sorry Dave but Ford is still second place in "truck" sales, you forgot to count SUVs and CUVs, they are also labeled as "trucks" in the US, better luck next year snowflake you lose to GM still!

http://news.pickuptrucks.com/vans/

Posted by: Lionel | Jan 31, 2017 9:23:17 PM

Thanks for the compilation of Ford van recalls, it falls nicely in place with all the F-series recalls.

Manual all the way..

It is disappointing that GM will not put a Manual in the Colorado ZR2

'13 Camaro ZL1 (road track & cruiser) - 6spd manual
'09 HHR (commuter) - 5spd manual
'02 S10 ZR2 - 5spd manual

Drive a car equipped with a manual and you are FORCED to pay more attention to the road.. the F'ing auto's allow all these morons to try and multitask on their phone or whatever and become freaking dangerous

Sorry Dave but Ford is still second place in "truck" sales, you forgot to count SUVs and CUVs, they are also labeled as "trucks" in the US, better luck next year snowflake you lose to GM still!
Posted by: johnny doe | Jan 31, 2017 10:02:39 PM

Agreed!

2019 Chevrolet Silverado Spotted Donning...
http://tinyurl.com/hy63jmj

What is taking PUTC so long to comment?! Ford bias is rearing its head once again!

Chevrolet Silverado spied disguised like a Ford F-150??????

http://www.autoblog.com/2017/01/30/chevrolet-silverado-spy-shots-ford-f-150/

WTF?

Anyone else seeing a F150 here? I'm not seeing it!

Spied! 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Next-Gen Hauler Shows F-150 Influences

http://tinyurl.com/j2uwtof

F150 influences???? WTF!!!

Best Auto shifter: On the console with one easy electronic switch (not mechanical) that easily selects between Sport/Economy mode. If Sport mode is done right, you never use/want/need paddle shifters or Manual mode. Sport mode holds gears longer and enables aggressive compression braking, doing everything perfectly you would just try to emulate with paddle shifters.

Best setup I've seen is the 2014/2015 Grand Cherokee with the electronic shifter -- give shifter an easy nudge backward to choose Sport when heading downhill (engine braking), give an easy nudge again at bottom of hill to toggle back to normal (economy). Same procedure going uphill if you want more boost -- nudge backward at bottom of hill, nudge backward again at top of hill. Super simple, without using silly paddle shifters and always forgetting to shift at the right time.

Sure, nay sayers will point out the recall on the 2014/2015 Grand Cherokee. So yeah they screwed up Park... minor detail. You couldn't ask for a better Sport/Economy mode selection mechanism.

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RAM the Longest Lasting trucks on the American Highway.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrkauPePD7Y&t=3s

Leave my Lever

WINCH IT!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfnBgGtxoOw

When will they come out with a power reverser for plow packages? Trans shifting, trans actuation, trans durability. All need to be looked at from a different standpoint of truck option. Some pickups I work on have 40,000 miles and are 15 years old. They just plow snow. Tow heavy trailers short distances. Those trucks shouldn't need to be built to go above 50-55mph. Need a power reverser for extreme work. Center diff... Built like a tractor to a lesser degree but just increased speed. All trucks need to be built to application spec for price they are asking. Id pay 100k for a truck that can work like a tractor. Someone else will pay for a leathered out diamond edition smothered in platinum for the same. They just want speeds higher with good ride. Shifting actuation differences are the same concept. The center console shift is the most like a power reverser. You just need more levers and different trans to do what I think.

For prices being asked things need to change. Shifting is a huge part of what a truck gets used for. It really dictates the vehicles life most of the time. I think this question can answer much for manufacturers. But I think that they aren't in it do really do what's right. Or look at it in a wide range perspective that might ultimately cost too much, and way out of the path they are set to go on.



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