Not necessarily. I lock out O/D on my car when carrying 4 other people around town, and it's a 3.0L V6. I prefer the engine braking (as slight as it is), and better throttle response. With automatics you have to watch closely on the shifting (constantly in and out of O/D for example) as it can overheat the transmission, even on I4 and V6 engined vehicles. Fuel economy isn't as noticeable the smaller the engine is. Most 4cyl trucks cruise at a fairly high rpm as it is to aid in cooling, but depending on the payload that might not be enough unless you add an aftermarket cooler, or, stay in 1:1 gear - no overdrives. Manual transmissions are becoming fewer and fewer, which is too bad. Manufacturers know automatics sell better simply for the convenience of not having the driver to shift gears. So, they put more funding into development of autos. GM for one no longer offers a 6 speed manual transmission in their HD line. As far as maintenance is concerned, nothing yet beats a good manual transmission. Some newer vehicles are much better built than even five years ago as far as automatics go. Better fluid flow can allow towing in overdrive without worrying too much about excessive heat buildup, not to say that it won't hurt the truck, or your wallet in the long term. If I bought a Ranger 2.3L with the automatic and planned to tow 1500lbs regularly and throw stuff in the bed, I'd leave that 4 speed auto in 3rd gear. A 5 speed manual transmission has more flexibility, in which case it would be the better one to go with; BUT manual transmissions don't offer the towing capacity that an automatic does with the same engine. Even HD trucks can tow more with automatics.