Manual or Automatic for Offroading

Sheepjeep

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I have wheeled heavily both a manual (95 yj) and a automatic (01 xj ) and honestly can say unless you are a rock bouncer (auto for that is better) the pros and cons of each are not big enough to actually matter. So the answer is pick which ever one you think will fit your daily usage best. I personally got a manual for my jlur because it was cheaper, more fun to drive, and was not a fan of the fluids requirements and documents for the auto

It's a shitty answer, but it's a honest answer. All the other answers I have ever seen to this question and this thread is no exception is either people who have driven both and are trying justify their manliness with their current setup or have driven one transmission and just repeat what others have said about they're chosen transmission.
 

rustyshakelford

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I have wheeled heavily both a manual (95 yj) and a automatic (01 xj ) and honestly can say unless you are a rock bouncer (auto for that is better) the pros and cons of each are not big enough to actually matter. So the answer is pick which ever one you think will fit your daily usage best. I personally got a manual for my jlur because it was cheaper, more fun to drive, and was not a fan of the fluids requirements and documents for the auto

It's a shitty answer, but it's a honest answer. All the other answers I have ever seen to this question and this thread is no exception is either people who have driven both and are trying justify their manliness with their current setup or have driven one transmission and just repeat what others have said about they're chosen transmission.
i dont fall into your observation at all. i have had several manuals, several autos ranging from a hummer (2001 HMCO called H1 now) to toyotas and heavy diesels. i love a manual. we bought this for off roading and my concern was heating the transmission up with the slow speed crawling. Plus, I always wanted a manual jeep. Now that i have it, and the lifetime warranty, I am really wishing I had bought the auto. I would've been able to go without a gear swap but currently the 6 speed and 37s, creates a gutless wonder and terrible on fuel. For offroading, it doesnt get much easier than an auto and being able to focus solely on the brake and gas without concern for a clutch. No concerns about my manliness or repeating what others have said. I have wheeled a bunch and these are my observations.

brett
 

caged

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all my wranglers are stick, all my xj's are auto.
i wheel both quite frequently. they both wheel nice.
i do however like the stick for things like steep/long hill descents. i can keep it in 1st and use the engine braking to control my descent and stay off the brakes.
whereas the auto, even in 1st will shift into 2nd (xj auto shares 1 and 2) i had to mod my big xj so it will stay in 1st.

there are other scenarios where i like the stick better too, rocking to get momentum is another big one.

if you are really good with the clutch, i would say stick, but if you're not so comfortable in holding yourself half way up a steep hill and stopping/holding it steady with using only the clutch, and still able to control your start, then an auto is for you.
 

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Watch this, best info.
Ronnie Dahl is very objective about it in that video. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I'm about equal between the two off-road, but greatly prefer it on-road. There is nothing I can do off-road with an auto that I can't do with a manual. I've been to Moab with the JL, and Moab and many, many other places with the JK, both manuals. Neither ever posed a challenge or problem. In low range, the JL's first gear with the Rubi's 4.10 axles is in a league of its own in the rocks.

The good news is that you can get what you prefer, and both are outstanding transmissions. If you bought one and don't like it, the resale value of the JL will allow you to get out of it and into a new one without too great a loss.

Here's my humble personal favorite thing about the manual....combined with the Magnaflow axle back exhaust, it sounds so good going through the gears on a twisty road, it is like music to the ears! It sounds great and feels great! It is theraputic driving it home after a long day at work, especially in the summer with the doors off and top down.
 

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I’ve had enough seat time both ways to know I prefer an auto. I’ve also changed enough clutches to know I don’t like changing clutches...at all. Also, the autos are geared lower than the manuals now, so there’s that too.
 

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I’ve had enough seat time both ways to know I prefer an auto. I’ve also changed enough clutches to know I don’t like changing clutches...at all. Also, the autos are geared lower than the manuals now, so there’s that too.
For the JL, first gear in the manual is geared lower than the auto. The first gear ratio for the JL manual is 5.13. The auto is 4.71.
 

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For the JL, first gear in the manual is geared lower than the auto. The first gear ratio for the JL manual is 5.13. The auto is 4.71.
My bad, for some reason I thought the auto was 5 to 1 and the 6 speed was still the nsg.
 

DanW

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My bad, for some reason I thought the auto was 5 to 1 and the 6 speed was still the nsg.
Well, when you consider the hydrolic nature of an auto, they feel about the same in the real world. Both feel like they could pull a house off it's foundation.
 

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For the JL, first gear in the manual is geared lower than the auto. The first gear ratio for the JL manual is 5.13. The auto is 4.71.
True but you also have torque multiplication of the torque converter to overcome the slightly taller gear.

You also have a manual shift feature with the automatic that works very well. Many times on a slow trail ride I'll shift into manual mode to hold it in a specific gear. One thing I did notice it on technical obstacles, giving it gas and accelerating over an obstacle it would up shift from 2 to 3rd and kind of lurch just when you don't want it to. That's why I'll leave it in manual mode for technical stuff. Besides that, in low range it starts out in second anyway so if your really crawling, you need to drop down to first using manual mode.

As far as down hill, there is some inherit ability of the 8 spd to hold back going down a hill with out engaging hill decent. If you back off the throttle, it will not just run away and up shift by it's self.

Not saying which is better, just pointing out some other aspects of wheeling the auto.
 

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My 03 Rubicon 4 litre Manual is far more drivable in the" rocks" ,then my 18 jl rubi with Manual . And in deep snow as well ,over 12". Never owned a JK . For light duty, JL "s with manuals are ok .
 

Sheepjeep

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i dont fall into your observation at all. i have had several manuals, several autos ranging from a hummer (2001 HMCO called H1 now) to toyotas and heavy diesels. i love a manual. we bought this for off roading and my concern was heating the transmission up with the slow speed crawling. Plus, I always wanted a manual jeep. Now that i have it, and the lifetime warranty, I am really wishing I had bought the auto. I would've been able to go without a gear swap but currently the 6 speed and 37s, creates a gutless wonder and terrible on fuel. For offroading, it doesnt get much easier than an auto and being able to focus solely on the brake and gas without concern for a clutch. No concerns about my manliness or repeating what others have said. I have wheeled a bunch and these are my observations.

brett
You would have to regear with an auto with 37s, and 37s are always going to push like dog shit it's a engine and final drive issue not a transmission issue

Yes auto is easier to manage on a trail but but unless you are bouncing off the Rev limiter it's not that hard to manage a manual. You pick the proper gear for an obstacle and stick with it.
 

DanW

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You would have to regear with an auto with 37s, and 37s are always going to push like dog shit it's a engine and final drive issue not a transmission issue

Yes auto is easier to manage on a trail but but unless you are bouncing off the Rev limiter it's not that hard to manage a manual. You pick the proper gear for an obstacle and stick with it.
I'm a manual fan, but I'm not sure you'd have to regear with an auto Rubi. @Kevin8086 hasn't regeared and his JL runs 38's and has some heavy mods, such as a steel skid plate system and more. I think this auto pushes these things around just fine. I've got 35's with the manual and it is plenty spunky, but the auto has so many ratios that I'd bet it handles bigger tires just fine.

IMHO, both of these transmissions are great options and you can't go wrong. I prefer the manual and saved a couple grand in the process, but I'm sure I'd be happy with the auto, too. I wish I could afford one of each!
 

rustyshakelford

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all my wranglers are stick, all my xj's are auto.
i wheel both quite frequently. they both wheel nice.
i do however like the stick for things like steep/long hill descents. i can keep it in 1st and use the engine braking to control my descent and stay off the brakes.
whereas the auto, even in 1st will shift into 2nd (xj auto shares 1 and 2) i had to mod my big xj so it will stay in 1st.

there are other scenarios where i like the stick better too, rocking to get momentum is another big one.

if you are really good with the clutch, i would say stick, but if you're not so comfortable in holding yourself half way up a steep hill and stopping/holding it steady with using only the clutch, and still able to control your start, then an auto is for you.
im comfortable with manual
You would have to regear with an auto with 37s, and 37s are always going to push like dog shit it's a engine and final drive issue not a transmission issue

Yes auto is easier to manage on a trail but but unless you are bouncing off the Rev limiter it's not that hard to manage a manual. You pick the proper gear for an obstacle and stick with it.
You pretty much loose 8th with an auto and 37s but it compensates fine. An outfitter in moab runs MC JLs on 37s and stock rubi gearing and have a great time with them. As mentioned, Kevin and Brittany do as well with out complaints. These JLs and 8 speed are an entire different animal vs a JK.

brett
 

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