Dodge 6 Speed Manual Vs. Automaticby Rob Wagner
Eight 2009 Dodge vehicles can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 4- or 5-speed automatic. In 2009, a 5-speed AutoStick was offered that behaves like a manual transmission without the shifting for faster acceleration. The primary benefit of a manual transmission is better fuel efficiency and control over the vehicle. Not all Dodge vehicles are equipped with manuals.
The argument of whether a manual transmission or an automatic has been around since the automatic became widely available in the early 1950s. Today, an estimated 85 percent of all North American vehicles are equipped with automatic transmissions. In Europe, 85 percent of the cars sold are equipped with manuals, according to ZF Friedricshhafen and buyingadvice.com
Dodge, a division of Chrysler LLC, in effect, validates the conventional wisdom that a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission gets better gas mileage than models equipped with automatics, according to its own fuel efficiency testing. The transmission, however, plays a part in the Dodge trucks' towing capacities with the automatic slightly outperforming the manual in hauling power, according to Dodge.com.
The Caliber features five engine options. The 285-horsepower 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 matched with a 6-speed manual transmission achieves 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. The smaller conventional 158-horsepower 2-liter version earns 23/27 with the AutoStick, according to Dodge.com.
The Challenger's 250-hp 3.5-liter V-6, coupled with a 4-speed automatic, achieves 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. The considerably more powerful SRT model equipped with a 375-hp 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and the 6-speed manual achieves a respectable 16/25, according to Dodge.com.
The automatic allows the Dakota to excel in towing capacity over the manual versions. The Dakota's 3.7-liter V-6 equipped with the manual transmissions earns 16/20 mpg with a 2,000-lb. maximum towing capacity. The same engine matched with a 4-speed automatic has a towing capacity of 4,950 lbs. with virtually the same gas mileage, according to Dodge.com.
Ram 2500 and 3500
The Ram 2500 and 3500 pickups, powered by the 6.7-liter inline-6 Cummins turbo diesel and complemented with a 6-speed automatic, has a maximum towing capacity of 17,000 lbs. It has the edge in performance over the same engine matched with the manual, which has a 14,300-lb. towing capacity. The automatic also helps the diesel engine provide more torque: 650 lb.-feet compared to the manual version's 610 lb.-feet, according to Dodge.com.
Chassis Cab 3500, 4500 and 5500
On the larger Dodge 3500, 4500 and 5500 commercial trucks, towing capacity and torque vary only slightly whether one uses the 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual with the 6.7-liter Cummins diesel. The manual-equipped 3500, 4500 and 5500 have a towing capacity ranging from 17,500 lbs. to 18,400 lbs. The automatic versions' towing capacities range from 17,450 to 18,300 lbs. The automatic 3500 generates more torque than the manual with 650 lb.-feet compared to 610. But the 4500 and 5500 automatics and manuals are identical at 610, according to Dodge.com. Cargo bed size, hitch and axle ratio also play a part in towing capacity.