I'm the other side of the fence; I've never liked manual transmissions.
I've done and continue to do some off-roading.
I do not have a dedicated trail truck, that I have to trailer to the trails because it's either unsuitable to be driven 25 miles on pavement, or it's just a trailer queen.
I don't carry spare axles and all that.
I go 4-wheeling so I can go camp and get away from everyone, not to test the limits of my vehicle.
My first car was manual, everything since has been auto.
I don't "get better mileage" or "more responsiveness" from shifting, it just doesn't work that way for me.
Probably doesn't for most people, either.
Off-road, you want your manual? Take it, I sure as hell don't want it.
I surely don't want all the electronic gizmos either.
My Range Rovers danced around jeeps and toyotas and all manner of other vehicles off-road, in supreme style and comfort.
It was all about tires and driver skill and the inherent capability of the vehicle.
It's a religion, simple as that.
And I've no interest in proselytizing or being converted.
You do you, I'll do me.