Automatic vs Manual trans?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-19-2012, 12:21 PM   #1
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Automatic vs Manual trans??

If you were to buy a new Nissan Frontier, which would you choose, the Automatic 5spd, or the Manual 6 spd? I have preferred manuals all my life, but nowadays the automatics are really slick, and sometimes give better mpg because they match load with gearing so quickly. I am looking at a Frontier V6 King Cab 4WD.

I am doing research in preparation for getting an Escape 5.0. It looks like the Nissan Frontier V6 has the most HP and towing capability, although I think the Tacoma is a very close second.

Somebody with experience please chime in. Manual or Automatic?

Thanks, Walter of Nevada City, CA
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:33 PM   #2
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I towed with a 6 speed frontier and the only issue I had was backing uphill into a camping spot, smelled the clutch. I think auto's with the trans cooler are just as efficient.
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:34 PM   #3
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I like the Manual for when not towing but would prefer the Auto for Towing.

No easy answer unless you get 2?
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:40 PM   #4
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I have smelt the nasty burnt rubbery fumes of a roasting clutch! This is the main reason, besides snow and ice on the road, why 4WD is my choice for towing. Put it in 4LowRange and you can just crawl up that hill with no revving, feathering and burning. You might not use it very often, but it's a lifesaver when you need it.....

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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I towed with a 6 speed frontier and the only issue I had was backing uphill into a camping spot, smelled the clutch. I think auto's with the trans cooler are just as efficient.
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:42 PM   #5
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Does that work in reverse and on dry pavement? I'm not talking about 4 wheel vs 2 wheel but auto vs stick
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:45 PM   #6
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I think in most cases the modern automatics will out perform manual transmissions. I believe the great improvement happened with the converter lock mode. I watch the tachometer and try to keep the converter in lock as much as possible. When needed to slip, like backing into a spot, the torque converter makes it much easier.

Even when not towing it's much easier to ease over those speed bumps with an automatic.
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Does that work in reverse and on dry pavement? I'm not talking about 4 wheel vs 2 wheel but auto vs stick
I have 4wd so I think I can answer this simply yes for the reverse. Dry pavement NO. But you get enough traction on dry pavement that you don't need to use 4 wheel drive, in fact unless you have AWD your wheels need to be able to slip. On gravel backing up into a spot, yes to both 4 wheel drive and automatic. On pavement no to 4 wheel drive, yes to automatic.

The transfer case is behind the transmission so the torque converter is still in play no matter 4 wheel drive high, 4 wheel drive low, or 2 wheel drive. Forward, gear, reverse are controlled by the transmission.

Both of my vehicles are 4 wheel drive automatic transmission.
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:12 PM   #8
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Just a clarification: It's the Low Range that will save you! 4WD is not to be driven on dry pavement, yes, but it does no harm to go a short distance on pavement, like up some steep hill leading up to a campsite. It doesn't get jammed, and will pop back out without wearing down any components. Driving down the road in 4WD will kill it, alright. Low Range gives awesome torque, so much torque at such a slow engine rpm that it doesn't matter whether you have a manual or automatic. No burning clutch in Low Range! The biggest clutch-killer I know of, is starting from a standstill at the bottom of a hill, fully loaded, and doing front and backup maneuvers under that stress.

I am thinking the Automatic, with 4WD would be an awesome combination that could face any challenge out there, plus enough off-roading capability to get you way off the beaten path safely.

Thanks for all the intelligent comments!

Walter

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I have 4wd so I think I can answer this simply yes for the reverse. Dry pavement NO. But you get enough traction on dry pavement that you don't need to use 4 wheel drive, in fact unless you have AWD your wheels need to be able to slip. On gravel backing up into a spot, yes to both 4 wheel drive and automatic. On pavement no to 4 wheel drive, yes to automatic.

The transfer case is behind the transmission so the torque converter is still in play no matter 4 wheel drive high, 4 wheel drive low, or 2 wheel drive. Forward, gear, reverse are controlled by the transmission.

Both of my vehicles are 4 wheel drive automatic transmission.
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:30 PM   #9
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I prefer a manual transmission. Inquire as to the clutch size before purchase. If you don't have a real need for 4WD... then 2WD is actually better for towing especially with a limited slip differential. The only drawback really is backing up... that's when most drivers tend to stress the clutch by slipping it, seeking more control.
I'm assuming you have an aversion (like mine) to owning a fullsized truck, besides they are all automatics now.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:13 PM   #10
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Depending on the spacing of the gears and final drive ratios and whether you plan to drive in mountains much, having one extra gear may (or may not) be of occasional use and advantage. Going from a 4 speed auto to a 5 speed auto made a huge towing difference for me. But from a 5 to a 6... not sure if it's going to come into play that much for towing.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:47 PM   #11
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The automatics have a heaver tow (Load) rating than the manual and I think it is due to the torque converter vers the clutch. Very smooth take off.

With the Automatic you should not have the transmission getting stuck in neutral during a downshift on a very steep hill. The manuals should not do that however they have in the past.

Read the signs on the steepest hills B 4 going down and they state that all big trucks shall stop, check brakes and place their transmissions in 2nd. Then when U go down the hill you will C escape ramps for the trucks that get away from their drivers. (Going 2 fast) West Virginia Interstate 64 is a great example of Long Steep Grades.
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:38 PM   #12
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I have a 2006 Nissan Xterra with 6 speed manual. Got it off a frind of mine after he replaced the clutch (36k miles). He burned out the clutch trying to back a 17" Casita up the slight incline in his driveway. For some reason and I really can't explain it but that 6 speed (stolen from the Z cars) is the worst backing transmission I've ever used. I thought he was just a "clutch burner" until I tried the same thing with a light weight utility trailer. It just has no reverse power. I guess the reverse gear ratio was just intended for a light sports car and was never changed when it went too a SUV.

I'd never own a manual trans tow vehicle unless it had a transmission intended for that task (low first gear like the 3/4-1 ton trucks).
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Old 06-19-2012, 03:41 PM   #13
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normally reverse and 1st gear are the same ratio in standard, i thought
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
normally reverse and 1st gear are the same ratio in standard, i thought

For the 6 speed Xterra (I assume is the same as the Frontier) on ehow:
The manual is a six-speed overdrive with gear ratios, from one to six, of 4.37, 2.52, 1.74, 1.28, 1.00 and .77. The reverse gear ratio is 3.97, and the axle ratio is 3.54.

Read more: Nissan Xterra Offroad Options | eHow.com Nissan Xterra Offroad Options | eHow.com
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