This is my train of thought as well and why I would like to downsize if possible.If I were dealing with your driving scenario's, I'd choose the Tacoma over the Tundra. There might be other midsized pickups that you want to consider, but in terms of midsized vs 1/2 ton, I think the former makes a lot more sense from a cost and usage perspective.
I would have agreed with you years ago as I love manuals. But today, my knee disagrees with manuals. So auto it is, lol.FWIW, the 6-speed manual Tacoma, besides allowing you total control over shifting, comes with 4.30 gearing (auto's only get 3.90's) which should somewhat mitigate the Tacoma's mediocre grunt.
Up until a year ago you couldn't even get a CCSB Tacoma with an auto in Canada. Had to go long box. And long box crews were not available with manuals.... weird.