2025 Toyota 4Runner Doesn’t Get Tacoma’s Manual Transmission… Yet

Manual transmissions might not be mass-appeal, but they can still make mundane driving more fun.

byAndrew P. Collins|
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Toyota, edited by the author


Toyota's people have confirmed that there's no manual-shift 2025 Toyota 4Runner. They've also declined to comment on if that'll be a future offering. However, a compelling case for a stick in the sixth-gen version of this iconic SUV can still be made.

The 4Runner is one of the U.S. market's best-established rugged off-roady SUVs, and the outgoing model is still selling pretty well despite (or perhaps because of) its archaic design and powertrain.

The fifth-gen T4R was revealed in 2009 and as of this year is rocking the same basic design and ancient formula of a heavy frame powered by a big V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission.

The sixth-gen is supposed to be available in the fall (this year), with significant changes to the look and underpinnings. The venerable 4.0-liter V6 and auto transmission are finally gone, replaced by two powertrain options: a 2.4-liter turbo four claiming 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft and a hybrid variant that claims 326 hp and a whopping 465 lb-ft of maximum torque. Both will ship with an eight-speed automatic exclusively. Cynthia Barreras, senior marketing planner for 4Runner, confirmed: "For 2025 4Runner there is no manual transmission."

This is a 2025 4Runner Limited in "Heritage Blue." The more I look at this color, the more I like it. A white roof would look good on this, maybe even white wheels. The Limited trim will be available with the non-hybrid engine, making it a candidate for manual transmission fitment. Toyota

As Matthew McConaughey might say here, it'd be a lot cooler if you did, Toyota.

I know people don't buy manual-shift cars en masse. And that automakers are more interested in fattening shareholders than being cool. But a few factors align that make a manual 6G 4Runner a more viable proposition than it's been in the past.

Close Relationship With Tacoma

The 2024 Toyota Tacoma can be ordered with a six-speed manual and 2.4-liter engine. It won't be easy to get one, but it does exist. The 2025 Toyota 4Runner is built on the same platform. The powertrains are shared, too. Even the center console pretty closely matches between the two vehicles.

From an engineering perspective, getting a manual in the new 4Runner would be trivial and would not require many parts that aren't already being made. Granted, some engine calibration and of course assembly process adjustment would need to happen. But it would be a lot less burdensome of a project than it would have been getting a stick in the last 4Runner.

Rivals Still Offer Stick

The Jeep Wrangler and even the Ford Bronco can still be ordered with manual transmissions; six and seven-speeds respectively. Limited availability, yes, but those trucks really have the market cornered on the "old-school SUV experience" right now. Toyota could sweeten the nostalgia bait proposition of its offering big time with a manual offering and maybe some kind of graphic kit in the next year or so.

More Differentiation From Land Cruiser

At the 4Runner's launch event in Southern California, Toyota reps maintained that the Land Cruiser and 4Runner won't cannibalize sales of each other ... though I must say I disagree. At a similar size and price point, who's possibly going to look at a 4Runner without at least scoping out a Cruiser too? Heck they'll probably be parked right next to each other at dealership displays across the nation.

A stick-shift option could help differentiate the machines a little more.

Secondhand Coolness for Other Trims

Half of everything aspirational that car companies cook up is just to get people into dealership doors to buy something similar, right? A stick-shift TRD Off-Road 4Runner would be a great mid-level halo vehicle to rope in those of us who want to wheel but aren't up for a TRD Pro's price.

Plus if somebody comes in looking for a stick-shift truck, they might end up buying an auto out of impatience and the dealer still banks off the manual's existence.

Supra Did It

Toyota famously introduced a manual option to the current Supra a few years into its existence, and it got the car a little bump of attention. The precedent has been set, Toyota might pull the same thing with the 4Runner!

The World Needs a 2026 Toyota 4Runner Manual

It'll be a long time before I get to drive the new 4Runner, but I'll tell you right now that the TRD Off-Road is going to be the trim to get. That's the lowest-spec (least-expensive) version with the goodies you need (locking rear diff). The advanced traction management and suspension of the fancier TRD Pro are nice to have, but all they really do is let you carry more speed on the same trails.

And for 2025, the TRD Off-Road is the highest trim you can get with the 2.4-liter turbo non-hybrid. Toyota could totally get a stick in that model and have an exceptional throwback trim ... a 4Runner with a four-cylinder and a stick? It'd be like the 1980s all over again. And if the success of every anachronistic model has taught us anything, it should be that nostalgia is what the people want.

Come on, Toyota, throw us a bone. The 4Runner is going to sell in huge numbers and this generation might end up outliving me. Those tooling costs will be well amortized; get a little more utility out of them and give us a six-speed T4R!

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