By on August 30, 2012

The folks over at Allpar are concerned about Dart sales. The initial batch of Darts were released as “Rally” models with manual transmissions for about $23,000 — and apparently, one of the Allpar reader’s dealers has an ADP sticker on top of that! The Darts don’t seem to be selling. Not for $23,000, and not with a manual transmission.

Now the Wall Street Journal is chiming in.

“Too Many Stick Shifts Hurt Dodge Dart Sales” they say, and for proof they offer the statistic that 974 Darts found homes in June and July. That’s equivalent to 6,000 a year, which would be great volume for the Lamborghini Aventador but in the compact-car arena is a bit slow.

One dealer complained to the WSJ that people just don’t buy manual-transmission cars. There was much hue and cry about the fact that Dodge was planning to sell 20% of Darts with a clutch pedal, but let’s face it: the guy is right. This is America. If you want to shift your own gears, buy a Harley trike.

While the manuals-only rollout of the Dart was more a consequence of certain parts availability and QA issues than a legitimate marketing strategy, it can be seen as an acid test of a philosophy long-expressed on every Internet discussion arena since AOL started participating in USENET in September of 1993. That philosophy claims that if manufacturers just make well-equipped manual-transmission cars available to their early adopters, they will reap huge rewards.

It turns out that there are rewards, but they won’t be reaped by dealers or buyers. Instead, it’s your local Dodge store’s bank, which earns interest on “floorplanned” vehicles, that will be cashing in. Cha-ching!

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248 Comments on “Manual-Transmission Darts Are Sticking To Showroom Floors...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    $22k is pretty close to brz/wrx/mustang v6/civic si territory isn’t it?

    Drop it to $16k or $18k all optioned out…

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      22k? Where did you get that number?

      http://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/options.html?sub=sedan

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “$22k is pretty close to brz/wrx/mustang v6/civic si territory isn’t it?”

      Exactly.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The Civic Si makes some sense (because the sedan has a real back seat) but you give up a lot of practicality in the other three.

        Pricing yourself atop the Civic, assuming you can match it, more or less, isn’t a bad idea. Now, the argument about whether or not slightly hot front-drive compacts are a worthwhile market…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        A few will accuse me of embellishing, as is always the case when I speak about actual transaction prices, but why the hell would any sane person buy a 23k (or 22k, 21k, 20k…19k) 160 horsepower Dodge Dart with the circa-1990s interior when one could buy about a zillion other does-as-good-and-even-better competitors for thousands less, and a zillion does-way-better competitors for similar money?

        Oh, and I no doubt in the minority, but I’ll never drive a slushbox. Give me a real manual (the kind with a stick shift and heel-toe clutch on the floor, bitches).

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with Deadweight. Stick, clutch, or no sale.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        Only it isn’t.

        The Mustang MSRP’s I beleive for $24k, and good look finding one near that. The cheapest Mustang I can find locally on a dealer’s lot is high 20’s – they ALL have one or more options/packages included. This, of course, doesn’t include incentives, of which I would assume there are few or none. The BRZ, I thought, also started around $27k after destination.

        A compact car for $22k is going to give you more CAR for your money than the several thousand more expensive *at least* hypothetical MSRP after destination for a performance car. You’re going to have a nicer interior with nicer materials, more features, and a more well-rounded car for less money.

        That said, my Focus has 160 HP. The Mustang has double that.

        Different cars, different target audiences. Comparing the two is just silly.

      • 0 avatar
        Monty

        I’m with these guys – manual or I’m not buying.

        This is not coming from somebody who claims he will buy the mythical Euro diesel wagon with a manual – we own three vehicles, and they’re all manual transmission equipped. I don’t complain about rush-hour traffic, don’t bitch about stop and go driving, because when you’ve driven manuals for thirty-five years, it’s automatic (get it?) behaviour. I shift and go.

        We are going test-driving this long weekend, and the Dart is on “the list” only if it’s manual equipped. I’m very intrigued by the Dart, if for no other reason that the polarity of the opinions regarding the Dart’s interior furnishings.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @Monty

        You’re correct about the “automatic” thing.

        Once one drives manuals for a while, even rush hour traffic isn’t a big deal, as shifting becomes as involuntary and automatic a behavior as breathing. Completely 2nd nature.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “This, of course, doesn’t include incentives, of which I would assume there are few or none. ”

        Your assumption is incorrect.

        In my area, 2013 Mustangs currently have $1,500 cash back.

        2012 V6 Mustangs have $1,500 cash back and 0% for six years OR $2,500 cash back. GTs are $4,000 cash back.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        You can play the ‘its close to’ game but as soon as you step up a level you are going to want options. Dart’s are priced just fine if you compare them to Focus, Civic etc – these will all ring up at 20k plus with some options as well.

        Internet favs like the Mustang (the OMG you could get 2 mustangs for that) all have options that push them well beyond that price range.

        FWIW Dodge is right. Economy cars are the segement that actually NEED manuals. Most other cars have enough torque so it doesn’t matter.

        I rented a Challenger R/T – it had paddle shifters – but you didn’t even need em. Just press the pedal even part way down and woosh – off you go. With enough torque cars will pull in any gear.

        So I have to disagree the enthusiasts that always want manuals with the big engines and hate on the sports cars with the autos. Actually a 5.0 mustang doesn’t need a manual – it’s the Dart that does.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      The limited is pretty optioned out at 19,995.

    • 0 avatar
      mjz

      The mainstream seller will be the SXT with the 2.0 and six speed auto for around $20,000 sticker. Once they get production ramped up on those models, sales will increase substantially. Plus, the 1.4 turbo won’t be a big seller until the dual clutch trans is available. Those $23,000 Rallye models with the 1.4 turbo and 6 speed maunual are going to have extremely limited appeal in a country where only about 6 percent of total new cars sold have a manual trans.

  • avatar
    tced2

    The writer of the WSJ story recounts the day he drove a Miata with a 5-speed manual and attempted to talk on a cellphone – manuals were doomed. No. Hands-free speakerphones either built-in to the phone or bluetooth. And has he ever heard of the laws that many states have requiring hands-free?

    One of the main reasons I purchased my Acura TSX with a 6-speed manual was that it was one of the few cars of its type with a manual that was not an econo-stripper car. Yes we’re in the minority.

    Isn’t the Dart automatic one of those dual-clutch things? Does it work? (see Ford’s Powershift problems).

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      All of my cars have been stick, somehow the widespread availability of cell phones in the aughts did not phase me. I may not be a “Jack Baruth” but I somehow manage to talk on the non-hands-free phone, shift as necessary, and not kill busloads of nuns and orphans (yet).

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        A few years ago I was a passenger while my buddy drove his 5MT Protegé5. During the drive his wife called. One would assume he’d hold the phone in his left hand and steer with his right, removing occasionally to shift.

        But no. He held the phone to his ear with his right hand, steered with his left, and awkwardly reached across every time he had to change gear. Needless to say I was a bit clenched during his entire phone conversation.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        The most common pattern I’ve seen is steer with left hand, hold phone with right, and when you have to shift, say “hold on a sec” and shift with right hand while holding the phone.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      +1, the reporter’s whole premise collapses as far as I’m concerned once the phrase “attempted to talk on a cellphone” is introduced. Clearly this person shouldn’t be driving a stick, or driving at all, perhaps. (WSJ? Wouldn’t their reporters tend to be car-hating NYC types anyway? And furthermore, doesn’t NY state have one of the stricter laws regarding handheld cell phone usage?)

      Get a headset and learn to voice-dial. Or even better, ignore it until you get where you’re going.

      I doubt I’ll consider a Dart next time (although I can see a Dart rental in my future), but if they’re going with the 1990s interior decor, why not go full retro and give us a 1962 Dart interior? Now that was what a Dodge Dart should be.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        OR.

        Maybe… JUST maybe it’s over halfway through the year 2012 and the idea of a vehicle who can, in many, many circumstances shift as good as if not better than 90% of the general population, while allowing you the ability to do less work while driving your car, is an idea that has become more and more prevelant. In the age of cell phones with 5 1/2″ screens, Pandora radio on your… radio and apps on phones as powerful as 5 year old computers that let you turn your car on with your phone, technology usually means progress.

        /Prepares to be shot by a group of unruling self-shifters for having the preference of comfort over “sportiness”.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Count me on that mob TuffJuff. There is no viceral comparision with a autobox regardless of flappy paddles to a reaaaalllllyyyy sweet, slick shifting six speed (alliteration added for accent)

        Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        tuffjuff,

        It doesn’t matter what ‘enthusiasts’ think. About 95% of the American population prefers automatics. Any car maker that doesn’t cater to that is a fool.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        No one is saying they shouldn’t cater to the 95%. The point is to offer the choice for enthusiasts. When you offer a stick on just the base model and not any higher trims, even with the same engine, then you are purposely limiting choices. Why? Just to annoy people? No, they do it to drive profit. So if its money they are after, fine, charge us extra to put in the transmission you already offer on the model we want. How is that a bad thing?

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Hands-free or no, it’s the road and wind noise that’ll preclude cell phone conversation in a Miata. 80% of the time I don’t even hear it go off, and I love it for that. Like when I had my motorcycle, “Sorry, I was driving the convertible,” is a great excuse/reason not to answer the phone.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I’d pay $13,000 for a manual Dart.
    For $23,000 there are too many other choices.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      For 23k I would het the same drivetrane in a smaller more fun package. The Fiat Abarth

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Show me a car that costs $13,000 with half the kit on the $23,000 Dodge Dart and I’ll show you a liar.

      Even the new generation of Accents, Rios and Sonics’s run $14-15k, and that’s hardly loaded. To get the kind of equipment you’d find in a $23k Dart, you’re talking $18-20 large.

  • avatar

    The “save the manuals” movement is for a small bunch of enthusiasts. The rest of us already know manuals are on the endangered species list right next to the Black rhino.

    This was STUPIDITY releasing manuals before automatics. The Dart is probably a better car than the Chrysler 200 and they release a version of it that few people in America are actually trained to drive. Most people who go to driver’s ed learn on an automatic Toyota. When I look back, the first cars I ever drove were a Honda Civic/ Toyota Corrolla.

    The manual- to quote Rahm Emanuel – is “DEAD… DEAD… DEAD” If out future contains AWD, electric cars or hybrids, you can bet in 50 years everything will be some sort of automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      My last car had AWD and a manual transmission (Subaru Outback). Why are AWD and manual gearboxes incompatible?

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        both of my current vehicles are manual scoobies. Lot of traction, not a lot of power, but somehow we get where we are going.

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        Sorry to see that Dodge has the same sort of stupid release strategies as their friends over at GM. Whatever happened to serving no wine before it’s time?

        As several posters have already said, a Dart at $23,000 is absurd, given the other available choices out there. Manual transmission has little or nothing to do with it.

        If the manual transmission is truly dead, that means that our future is one of lazy, inattentive drones moping along with their iphones in vanilla transportation appliances that are less stimulating than your average fridge. Thanks, but no thanks.

        We should be making people more connected to what they’re doing out on the road, not less. Does anyone really think it’s best for car companies to be making nothing but 4,000lb murder weapons that any 5-year-old can drive?

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        “4,000lb murder weapons that any 5-year-old can drive?”

        If I start a car company that will be my slogan.

      • 0 avatar
        Wacko

        My 2010 Suzuki SX4 is a 6 speed manual with AWD.
        Manual AWD’s are hard to find, but they are out there.

        Only problem, is that you can’t get all the options on a manual car…..

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        @probert: Now that’s a car slogan I can get behind. Sign me up.

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        @noxioux

        I agree with you that Dodge botched the introduction much like Chevrolet did with the Cruz a couple years ago and the Malibu Eco this summer. With the Cruz, they dribbled cars out to the dealers, and when the dealers got the cars, the first ones I saw had prices of $26,000 and up. At the same time, you could get a well-equipped Hyundai Sonata at the dealer next door for $21,000. For the 2013 Malibu, all the press was centered around a niche mild-hybrid model that returns mediocre fuel economy benefits in exchange for a much higher price tag and compromised trunk. Dodge is wasting its model-intro publicity by only delivering manual-transmission models. Chrysler and GM should be more like Honda, saving its PR for when the mass-market cars can actually be bought at the dealership.

        By the way, the first Dart that I saw in person was a Rally model with a nice black interior. The second one I saw, I can’t remember the trim, had a gray interior, and it didn’t look nearly as good.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. Sparky

        “4,000lb murder weapons that any 5-year-old can drive?”

        As the owner of a Ford Flex, I’m already driving that car. Those power adjustable pedals really help the young ones reach the pedals!

        Perhaps Ford should license that. I can hear the ad now…

        With power adjustable pedals and voice activated Sync, Ford Flex is a 4,000lb murder weapon any 5-year-old can drive…

        Has your Kindergartener driven a Ford lately?

    • 0 avatar

      SAVE THE FLINTLOCKS!!!

      …instead of allowing semi automatics to take over.

      We really need to connect people to the guns they are shooting instead of producing 10 pound murder weapons a 5 year old can shoot.

      • 0 avatar
        Dukeboy01

        Good point. Manual transmissions are, by and large, becoming like black powder muzzle loaders. They’re kind of fun to fool around with as a hobby, but as a tool they’re quickly becoming replaced by better technology. Given a choice no one who intended to use a firearm for a practical purpose (i.e., self defense or hunting for necessary food) would choose a flintlock over a modern handgun or rifle. For the practical purpose of commuting from point A to point B in stop and go traffic, most people are going to go with an automatic. Manual transmissions are ultimately a niche market, which is why it was really dumb to roll out the Dart this way.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      Mean while I’ve been looking to test drive a Buick Regal with manual and 2 dealers told me they don’t get many, but they sell fast when they do.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Right, let’s ignore that $23K is Camry SE range and that Dart is not only ugly-ish but has that fine 1995 quality interior. Let’s blame the stick shifts. Like others said, drop it to $18K, then see what happens.

  • avatar
    david42

    They were expecting to sell 20% of Darts with a stick??? I bet you don’t get that take rate on real (mainstream) sports cars like Mustangs, let alone appliance-mobiles.

    It would be interesting to know among all stick-shifts sold, what percentage are for fun/second cars. These days, even stripped-down economy models ought (and I use the word “ought” loosely) to be automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      When did the mustang become a sports car?

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      This is how the Italians at Fiat think. They are not used to lazy americans yet. The Abarth is not available with an auto, because who would want that? I had an Italian nanny for a while and she had to drive my car. I asked if she could drive a stick. She laughed and said back home only handicapped people drive automatics. So Fiat is actually giving us a compliment in not assuming we are all handicapped.

  • avatar
    ProfessorSlow

    Enthusiasts who like man-trans are going to be holding out for the bigger engine. Or the dual-clutch. Or a sportier car. Econojunkies who want the stick to eke out every MPG aren’t looking at the Dart, certainly not at that price. There’s little here that can be extrapolated to say manuals would do poorly in other cars more suitable for the target audience.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    Here is an idea for a TTAC reader survey.

    What was the last manual car you owned?

    My last manual was a 2000 Camaro I owned from 2000-2003.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Currently own a manual transmission BMW 330i (2004)

      Previously owned a Subaru Outback (1998: purchased 2005, sold 2009) and a Saab 900S (1983: free car from parents, drove from 1998-2000) with manual transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      2005 xB, still driving today.

      Previous sticks: 85 LeBaron GTS (non-turbo), 76 Pinto, 74 Fiat 128SL, 71 Pinto, and learned to drive on my dad’s 78 Fiesta.

      Best shifter among them: both Pintos
      Worst shifter among them: Fiat

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      Mazda Protege model year 2002, bought new and still own.

      I’d like to buy another manual, but not at $5000 more than it should be priced.

    • 0 avatar
      froomg

      I just bought a 2012 Ford Focus SE with a manual in February. I was considering a Dart, but couldn’t wait. I was impressed that the local Ford dealer had a good selection of manuals. I’ve never learned how to drive a slushbox.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      A 1988 Merc Tracer, otherwise known as the Mazda 323. Much as I loved driving a manual, the wife just couldn’t deal with it and the inability to swap cars as needed became too much to deal with. Sigh.

    • 0 avatar
      BunkerMan

      My current daily driver (Veloster) is a manual. It replaced a Ranger that was a manual, which replaced another car with a manual. I’ve had 5 in total.

      Of course, we also have always had an automatic as a second vehicle, since my wife still refuses to learn to drive stick.

      I’m Canadian, though. Does that make a difference?

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        “I’m Canadian, though. Does that make a difference?”

        Canadian sticks travel in kilometers rather than miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Perhaps BunkerMan is asking if the take-rate of manuals is higher for Canadians.

        I’m Canadian too and I did a quick check of all my co-workers rides. In our small office of 25 people, 10 of us drive sticks.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      1996 Tacoma 4×4, still driving it. Before that I had a 1996 Civic, likewise with a manual.

      Wife drives a 2002 Saturn SC2, with a manual transmission. She refuses to drive automatics, although when that Saturn’s engine finally burns all of its oil and explodes before she notices and refills it, who knows if there will be any manual transmission cars to buy. (Ah, who am I kidding; there must be a upwards of a thousand Saturn engines in every self-service junkyard).

    • 0 avatar
      discstickers

      Current: 2010 335xi
      Previous: 2001 540i, 2007 TSX, 2003 GTI VR6

      If it doesn’t have a third pedal, I’m not buying it.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        Previous:1995 318Ti 5 speed – Roundel hatchback BABY!

        I always told myself three pedals or nothing, and then… life happened.

        Current: 2014 Mazda6 automatic …..sigh…… It really is so boring to drive an (attmitedly smooth and responsive) automatic that I corner at full speed just to keep driving interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      1997 Dodge Dakota – 5 speed manual
      1998 GMC Sonoma – 5 speed manual
      1999 GMC Sierra – 5 speed manual
      2000 Dodge Dakota – 5 speed manual
      2001 Dodge Ram – 5 speed manual
      2002 Saturn SL – 5 speed manual
      2004 Volkswagen Golf – 5 speed manual
      2006 Mazda6 – 5 speed manual
      2007 Mazda RX8 – 6 speed manual
      2009 Mazda Speed3 – 6 speed manual
      2011 Honda Accord – 6 speed manual
      2005 Ford Focus – 5 speed manual

      …I’ve done my part. Next question?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        kvn, you are a fine and upstanding person.

        I admire and emulate your purchase decisions.

        I will never drive another slushbox unless they quit making even relatively decent cars with manuals transmissions (the real kind, with stick shifts and foot operated clutches), and even then, I’d just buy used cars with manuals.

        I HATE slushboxes of all types, and will never stop HATING them.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        @kvndoom – WOW! That’s a LOT of cars.. I don’t think I can ever go through cars at such a pace. I am, of course, assuming that you got rid of old cars as you got new ones and can very well be wrong in that assumption, but still. WOW!

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I had a REALLY bad problem with keeping my rides for a long time… I’ve outgrown that issue (buying a house will do that to ya), so the Honda will be with me for a long time.

        The Focus is my fiancee’s car, which we got this year, which is why it’s out of chronological order. It will be passed down to my stepdaughter when she turns 16, although I know my lady’s next ride will be a slushbox.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You mean that you’ve had “really bad problems about NOT keeping your rides for a really long time,” right?

        And yep, I know exactly what you mean. Buying a home and making a few other investments cured me of the new-car-every-3-years virus.

        It doesn’t hurt that it’s my honest opinion that many cars in the 2000 to 2006 range are better engineered than their newer successors (although there are a few notable exceptions).

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      2010 Honda Fit, purchased new, still have.

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      “We” (read:wife) currently have a manual 2008.5 mazda3 hatchback. My last manual was the 1985 celica I had until 2004 or so. My subsequent two cars were/are automatics based on largely on economic concerns (I got really great deals on them) and the reality of having to back up a steep incline through a tiny garage opening being criss-crossed by pedestrian traffic every morning.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I currently own a 2007 Civic Si sedan that I bought new. When you factor in the company cars I’ve had since 2008, I’ve probably put almost half the total miles I’ve driven in the past 4 years on the Civic. My company cars have all been automatic luxury cars, and I still haven’t driven one I enjoy as much as the Civic. I didn’t find dual clutch gearboxes to be any more satisfying than conventional automatics, just clunkier.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      Current:
      ’73 Volvo 1800ES 4sp + OD
      ’82 Volvo 242DL 4sp + OD

      Past:
      ’88 Volvo 245DL 5sp
      ’99 Saab 9-3 5sp (x2)
      ’05 Toyota Matrix 5sp
      ’89 Saab 900 SPG 5sp
      ’88 Saab 900s 5sp
      ’86 Saab 900 5sp

      (full disclosure, we currently have a Volvo 940 and an 850, both slushboxes)

      • 0 avatar
        ZekeToronto

        Nice. I had a ’73 1800ES as well for many happy years. Also lots of other manual bricks.

        My last manual transmission daily drivers were two Tacoma 4x4s that I drove over a ten-year period ending in 2009, when I moved to a large city. Since then I’ve made do with a dual-clutch Audi … and I can honestly say the DSG is good enough that I don’t miss the third pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      91 MR2, and a base first gen Saturn 4-door. But, my wife only drives automatics, so the last two cars we purchased have been autos.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      Currently own a 95 Pathfinder with a manual, that’s better in every measurable way to the slushbox Pathy I used to have.

      Wouldn’t touch a slushbox or snowmobile transmissioned car with a 10-foot pole.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      2005 Lotus Elise 6-speed
      2000 Volkswagen Turbobeetle 5-speed
      1990 Geo Prizm 5-speed
      1981 Mercury Capri 4-speed

      2009 Mazda MX-5 6-speed
      2004 Mitsubishi Lancer 5-speed
      1997 Ford Ranger 5-speed

      …i think once people learn to drive a standard transmission proficiently, they tend to prefer manual gearboxes ever thereafter: my significant other and i won’t even consider cars with automatic transmissions, and we’re fairly typical of anyone we’ve met whose first cars were stick-and-clutch affairs…

      …the problem, at least here in the ‘states, is the intimidation factor more than anything else…i’ve known a lot of people who wished they drove manual cars, but have never been willing to make that leap of faith to teach themselves for fear of breaking something expensive..

      • 0 avatar
        Micah

        Past daily drivers:
        1987 Mercedes 190D – 5 speed manual
        2000 Ford Mustang GT – 5 speed manual
        1973 Chevrolet Corvette 454 – 4 speed manual

        Currently:
        2006 Jeep Wrangler – 6 speed manual
        1993 Mazda Miata – 5 speed manual

        One can probably tell how I feel about this issue. My wife’s car is a 2002 BMW 325xi with an auto; enjoyable, but not quite the same. She shall soon learn the ways of the stick shift.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        It’s not an intimidation problem, it’s a lack of good experience problem. I grew up in a Chevrolet family and the GM manual transmissions were horrible compared to their automatics. I’ve driven a couple of Nissans with abrupt clutches and quiet low torque engines where I frequently stalled the engine. Somewhere along the line the potential customer has to have had good experiences driving a car with a good, fun manual before they will want to spend their own money on a 3 pedal car.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        This is why I feel it is important to learn to drive on a stick. I learned in a 79 Dodge Colt 5 speed and a 72 Chevy C10 with 3 on the floor and manual steering. And my daughter will be learning on my Fiat 500c manual in 5 years. (she picked the color hoping it would end up as her first car)

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      I have a 1993 GMC Sonoma and a 2005 Honda Civic LX Coupe, both are 5 speeds. My last automatic was/is a 2004 Impala SS that hopefully will get sold by this weekend. Before that it was a 1983 Olds Cutlass Supreme – my first car. Not counting the 1985 Dodge Ram work truck, which was also an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      2000 Jetta GLS VR6 w/manual (1999-2004)
      2004 R32 w/manual (2004-2005)
      2006 A3 2.0T w/manual (2005-present)

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Easier to tell you my last automatic – an ’85 Jeep Cherokee that I owned from 97-98 I think. It’s been all manuals since.

    • 0 avatar
      optflv

      Current:
      2012 VW CC 2.0T – 6spd manual

      Past:
      2011 Ford Mustang GT – Awful MT82 6spd manual
      2006 Honda Civic Si – 6spd manual
      2002 VW Jetta TDI – 5spd manual
      2001 VW Jetta 1.8T – 5spd manual
      1996 Honda Civic EX – 5spd manual

      Only daily driver auto was my first car, an old Nissan I had for less than a year. My old 220D is column-shift auto, but there’s a bench seat. :)

    • 0 avatar
      mx6er2587

      1995 Mazda MX-6 factory ATX swapped to 5spd Manual
      1990 Celica Alltrac 5spd Manual (no factory automatic option)
      1990 Volkswagen Golf 5spd Manual
      2005 Volvo S60R 6spd Manual

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s my list…

      1982 Alfa Romeo GTV6 – 5 speed manual
      2007 Honda Fit – 5 speed manual
      1991 Nissan Pathfinder – 5 speed manual
      2005 Saab 92x – 5 speed manual
      2002 Ford Focus SVT – 6 speed manual
      1989 Honda Prelude Si – 5 speed manual
      1994 Acura Integra GSR – 5 speed manual
      1997 Pontiac Sunfire GT – slushbox
      1983 VW Rabbit DL – 4 speed manual
      1988 Mazda B2200 – 5 speed manual
      1971 VW Super Beetle – 4 speed manual

    • 0 avatar
      EEGeek

      Current: 2012 VW JSW TDI 6MT (25k miles so far)
      Past: 1997 VW Passat VR6 5MT (331k miles)
      1991 Dodge Dakota 5 MT (worst ride/shifter, but I needed a truck)
      1984 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo 4 MT (What a crap pile…)

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Early model 911 and a Cobra replica at the moment.I have had more with a manual than I have had autos.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle, owned 2001-2002.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Current: 00 S2000
      Past: 04 RSX-S
      96 Audi A4 Quattro
      02 Nissan Xterra (Yes, with a stick)
      96 Nissan Altima

      Yes, I’m only 28, and that is my whole list of car’s I’ve driven. I’ve always been in a manual, and can’t imagine it any other way.

    • 0 avatar
      Trend-Shifter

      Current stickshift vehicles…

      1987 Audi 5000S Quattro 5 speed stickshift: Driven 110 miles every work day through Detroit.

      1976 Ford Mustang II: 4 speed stickshift 2.3 – Same as wifeys first car which BTW was troublefree to 164,000 the day we sold it.

      1973 Volvo 1800ES: Automatic now, but it will be converted to a 3.7 Mustang V6 stickshift.

    • 0 avatar
      lukemo2

      I currently own (and daily drive) a 1986 Fiero notchback 2.8 with a 4 speed manual.

      I also own (and occassionally drive) a 2004 GTO auto that I love, but wish was a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Wacko

      85 sentra wagon 5 speed
      91 hyundai Scoupe 5 speed
      91 Honda civic DX 5 speed
      91 cavalier z24 5 speed
      97 honda civic dx 5 speed
      2003 mazda protege5 5 speed purchased new

      And now
      2010 Suzuki SX4 awd 6 speed
      1997 Jeep tj 2.5 5 speed

      If it’s auto me no wanta

      • 0 avatar
        iainthornton

        I drive a manual, and out of 4 cars only one was automatic. I have no real preference either way to be honest, it just happens that the cars I wanted were configured that way.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      2012 Fiat 500c, before that the car in the picture above. A 1965 Dart wagon with the manual conversion hump. (mine was fiberglass though, not sheetmetal) I had it from 2010 till I got the Cabrio.

      2002 PT Cruiser
      1992 MX3 GS (with the 1.8 V6)
      1986 Ford Ranger

      All bought new, because I have a hard time finding used manuals. (took a while to find the Dart wagon)

    • 0 avatar
      Cavendel

      Holy thread hijacking, Batman. But, as long as you’re asking:

      1983 Corolla
      1988 Mazda RX-7
      1999 Acura EL
      2000 Ford Focus Wagon
      2008 Mazda 3 Hatch
      2009 Mazda 3 Hatch

      Canadian here as well.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      Decade – 2010’s – 2008 Audi A5 S Line – 6 speed (current)
      Decade – 2000’s – 2000 Audi TT – 5 speed
      Decade – 1990’s – 1989 Toyota Supra Turbo – 5 speed
      Decade – 1980’s – 1984 Chrysler Laser Turbo – 5 speed
      Decade – 1970’s – 1975 Volkswagen Scirocco – 4 speed
      Decade – 1960’s – 1964 Buick Riviera [automatic]

      And my wife has a 2002 Subaru WRX 5 speed, with a 1994 Saab 900 Turbo Coupe 5 speed and a Honda CRX 5 speed before that.

    • 0 avatar
      crbf1

      All manuals, all the time.
      Current: 2003 Focus SVT, 2006 Saab 9-3, 2009 Tacoma 4WD
      Past: 1963, 1979 & 1972 Beetle; 1986 Skyhawk T-Type; 1990 Beretta GTZ; 1996 S-10 4WD; 1989 Escort GT; 1999 Solara; 2001 Focus

    • 0 avatar
      lurker

      2006 RSX 5-speed (current)

      1987 Alfa Milano 5-speed
      1979 Alfa Alfetta (sedan) 5-speed
      1972 Alfa Spyder 5-speed
      1969 Alfa Berlina 5-speed
      1966 Peugeot 404 wagon 4-speed column shift
      1971 Alfa Berlina 5-speed
      1974 Fiat 124 5-speed
      197x Subaru sedan 4-speed front-wheel drive (memories of this and the next one are fuzzy)
      197x Dodge Colt 4-speed
      1965 Alfa Giulia TI (sedan) 5-speed
      1966 Saab 96 4-speed
      1959 Ford F-100 3-speed column shift
      1965 Peugeot 404 4-speed column shift
      1961 MG 1100 4-speed

      1961 MGA 4-speed

      • 0 avatar
        lurker

        my automatic cars were in brackets and got deleted. right under the RSX were three Japenese automatics, 1998 Mirage, 1992 Legacy sedan, 1984 Tercel 4WD wagon
        right above the MGA were several American automatics, 1964 Valiant, 1967 Plymouth Belvedere 318, my only V8, 1961 Valiant wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Current: 2007 Honda Element, 5 speed
      Past:
      2009 Mini Clubman, 6 speed
      1993 Ford Escort, 5 speed
      1983 Accord hatch, 5 speed

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I’ll play…

      ’83 Ford Mustang GLX – auto
      ’85 Honda Civic S (1500) Hatchback – 5 sp
      ’88 Chevy Caviler – auto (wife)
      ’93 Honda Civic EX Sedan – 5 speed (wife)
      ’89 Honda Prelude Si – 5 sp
      ’96 Iszuz Rodeo – 5 sp
      ’97 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T – 5 sp
      ’96 Ford Ranger Splash Extra Cab – auto
      ’00 VW Passat 1.8T – 5 sp (wife)
      ’02 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab – auto
      ’08 Volvo C30 – 6 sp (wife)
      ’03 Nissan 350Z – 6 sp

      Other then my trucks and first cars I’ve always bought manuals. I even converted the wife pretty quickly into a manual lover. I known manuals are dying breed but as long as I can find one I’ll buy it, even if it means compromising someplace else.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford Capri that I added a twin turbo and crate engine too:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/38614316@N00/7888293192

      400HP!

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      Currently

      1995 Isuzu Rodeo 5sp
      and 2008 Prius CVT

      Previously

      1991 Toyota AllTrac 5sp
      1991 Daihatsu Feroza 5sp
      1982 Golf 4sp

      Next car,

      6sp compact diesel pickup, oh wait that is something that the rest of the world wants not US consumers

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      I’m running exactly 50/50 at the moment. The manuals I’ve owned include:

      1965 Mustang V-8 4-speed
      1978 Fiesta 4-speed
      1976 F-150 4-speed
      2002 Wrangler 5-speed
      2006 Wrangler 6-speed

      I still own the 2 Wranglers on the list and just enjoyed a nice fall day today driving the ’06

    • 0 avatar
      FuzzyPlushroom

      ’93 Volvo 244, previously a ’94 855 as well. I’m 2 for 4 on manuals so far, and probably wouldn’t buy an automatic now unless it was in an old hearse or some other oddity.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      My list of vehicles:

      1992 VW Jetta 2 door
      1989 Kawasaki Ninja 600R
      1997 Suzuki TL1000S
      2009 Honda VFR 800
      1999 Mazda Miata

      Every one of them has been a manual. Only one has had a real roof, front wheel drive or more than 2 seats. ;)

    • 0 avatar

      current DD – 1996 ford explorer sport(2 door), 4WD, 4.0l, 5 speed – possibly the only 5 speed, 4WD, 2 door explorer in ohio! don’t hate on the sports, Jack!!!
      previous manual – 1993 geo tracker, 1.6l, 5 speed

    • 0 avatar
      Shipwright

      From “The Great White North”.

      In order of purchase.

      Used 1970ish Pontiac Ventura II, automatic (totaled by my sister in ’78).
      Used 1977 Chev Monza, 4 speed manual, (totaled by sister in ’86).
      New 1988 Ford Mustang GT, 5 speed manual (stolen in ’02).
      Used 1992 Mazda B2200, 5 speed manual (traded in for ’01 Ranger).
      Used 1999 Mazda Protege, 5 speed manual (Wife’s, still own).
      Used 2001 Ranger P/U, 5 speed manual (junked, blown engine head gasket).
      New 2008 Shelby GT500, 6 speed manual (still own).
      Used 1973 Ford Mustang Mach1, automatic (wife’s, still own).
      Used 2007 Ranger P/U, 5 speed manual (still own).

    • 0 avatar
      karlbonde

      Current:
      2013 scion fr-s – 6 spd manual

      Previous:
      1980 vw rabbit – 4 spd manual
      1981 vw rabbit – 5 spd manual
      1985 pontiac fiero gt – 4spd manual
      1984 nissan 200sx turbo – 5 spd manual
      1987 vw scirocco 16v – 5 spd manual
      1983 audi coupe gt – 5 spd manual
      1987 audi 5000CS quattro – 5 spd manual
      1984 volvo 240 turbo – 4 spd manual with push-button overdrive
      1986 audi 4000s quattro – 5 spd manual
      1987 saab 900 spg – 5 spd manual
      1985 saab 900 turbo – 5 spd manual
      1988 vw scirocco 16v – 5 spd manual
      1991 saab 9000 turbo – 5 spd manual
      2003 vw gti vr6 – 6 spd manual
      2008 ford escape – 4 spd automatic :-(

    • 0 avatar
      DucRam

      My manuals (the only way to drive)

      Current:
      2012 Veloster
      1999 Triumph Trophy 900

      Previous:
      1996 Infiniti I30t
      1997 Triumph Trophy 900
      1993 SAAB 9000 CD
      1997 Ducati 900SS
      1990 Mistubishi Eclipse GS Turbo
      1986 Kawasaki Concours
      1981 Kawasaki LTD1100
      1980 Suzuki GS450
      1984 Pontiac Trans Am
      Learned on a 4-speed manual 1980 Mercury Zephyr

  • avatar
    Sam P

    $23k for a stick shift Dart with all of 160 hp? Yeah right. I’d go for a 270 hp 6-speed manual Genesis Coupe for a couple grand more, or a 180 hp 6-speed manual Mini Cooper S for the same price.

  • avatar
    toadroller

    “This is America. If you want to shift your own gears, buy a Harley trike.”

    Well played, sir.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Neither of the dealerships I visited had a 1.4 turbo with a manual. They were all the 2.0 with manumatics.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I test-drove an $18k SXT (1.4T) with the stick, and to my surprise did not like it. I think the 2.0 AT would provide a better driving experience, albeit more pedestrian.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Interesting point toadroller. I remember Honda offered an automatic trans on some bikes (Goldwing?) but by and large most motorcycles are manuals. Why such a dicotomy between cars and motorcycles?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      I see a lot of bikes out on the weekends but very few commuting.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      You’re thinking of the old CB750 Hondamatic. Not a terrible bike, but pretty worthless next to say a CB750F.

      The difference between motorcycles and cars is simple. People who get careless and stupid on a motorcycle end up killing or maiming themselves. There is no room for the brain-dead meandering that most of the sheep on our roads calls driving.

      I actually take offense to the “This is America. . .” comment. What he’s really saying is this is an America where we’re all too lazy and priviledged to do a single damn thing for ourselves. I don’t like that one bit.

      • 0 avatar
        GoesLikeStink

        My first bike was a 78 Honda 400 Hawk Hondamatic. Great learning bike. But that is about it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        It doesn’t matter whether you like it or take offense. When was the last time you change the channel without a remote? It’s the same thing. The whole point of technology is to reduce how much work a person has to do, whether it be in a factory, in your living room or in your car. You sure as well know that the guy who invented power steering wasn’t an exercise fanatic.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Motorcycles and sports cars get manuals because they are our toys. We like to play with our toys, but we’d rather ignore our appliances.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Most scooters have some form of automatic transmission- mostly belt driven CVT. These are a joy to ride.

      I am still surprised that Harley hasn’t seen fit to make auto trans for their motorcycles. Their engines are slow revving and torquey- which is perfect for an auto transmission. Their riders are mostly into low speed cruising and not sport riding. Also their clutches are heavy and their transmission shifters suck anyways.

    • 0 avatar
      PhilMills

      I’m going to go with: Weight and Control in equal measures.

      Weight: Automatic transmissions are heavier and most motorcycles’ selling points (Harley excluded) heavily factor in the power/weight ratio.

      Control: An Automatic transmission has not been invented yet that can tell a half-second ahead that the rider’s about to pass a car and will want to drop down two gears to do so. No, an auto will wait for the throttle to open up, bog down, then jerkily drop a couple of gears upsetting the suspension loading and getting you run over by a truck.

      CVTs are starting to get a bigger hold on the motorcycle industry (Aprilia, every vendor’s maxi-scooter…), Yamaha has a version of the FJR1300 sport/tour bike with effectively a paddle-shift manual and Honda’s definitely trying the full-auto route anew on some of the new bikes (VFR1200F, NC700X).

      I have the FJR and it’s an interesting compromise: there’s no clutch lever, the normal toe shifter basically pushes an “up” or “down” button (and there’s finger paddles on the left grip that send the same signals) and a hydraulic clutch actuator takes over, disengages the clutch, kicks you up or down a cog, reengages the clutch and lets you go. It’s FAST (couple hundredths?) and if you close the throttle down a touch when you shift it’s pretty smooth. The nanny won’t execute the shift if it knows it’d over-rev and you can’t drop it into neutral while in motion, so it’s mildly idiot-proof.
      But: it doesn’t allow for any subtle control at low speeds where you’d normally keep a higher engine speed and trickle power out with some careful clutch work. Instead you’re completely at the mercy of the camming on the throttle (which is fairly abrupt) and the whim of the electronics deciding when to lock the clutch. I try to keep the throttle off of the cam’s cliff and force some clutch slipping with a heavy rear brake. Doesn’t always work.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Other than the performance, there’s also the convenience factor. Motorcyclists aren’t applying makeup and sipping coffee while they ride, both hands are engaged in driving at all times. Also, working the clutch merely takes a squeeze of the fingers, you don’t have to lift your leg, which can get tiring in stop and go traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Honda’s VFR 1200 has a dual clutch.

      Here’s a YouTube vid demonstrating it:

      youtube[.]com/watch?v=SBfsCSZwsAc

      remove the []

  • avatar
    ant

    When I went to Mexico on vacation, pretty much everything was stick shift.

    All the taxis, and even the full size buses.

    Only the full size ford vans were auto trans.

    Manual transmissions are better for long term longevity, efficiency, and driver control.

    the dodge dart is a piece of junk, that’s is why they’re not selling.

  • avatar
    loj

    The price is way, way out of whack on these cars. The absolute top of the line Civic EX-L with heated leather seats, nav, and automatic is $23,600. If the mid-range Dart stickers in the $23k range with a manual transmission and cloth seats, they have a bigger problem than just lack of availability of automatics.

  • avatar
    jmo

    http://www.edmunds.com/dodge/dart/2013/options.html?sub=sedan

    SE 15,996

    SXT 17,995

    Limited 19,995

    Where is the 23k coming from?

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      It’s a totally new car… Maybe 3k in dealer prep and market adjustment. :P Might be more of the reason they can’t sell.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Someone earlier quoted the R/T at around 23K.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The article says the $23,000 cars are Rallye models with the turbo and manual. Using Dodge’s build and price, one quickly breaks through that threshold because the Rallye turbo is $21,100 with destination before a sunroof ($900) or a Uconnect w/SAT infotainment upgrade (packaged so you have to pay $1,600 for what looks like a $500 option). There are still boxes to check at close to $25,000. It depends how they were ordered, but I’d assume any compact over $20K has a sunroof.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        I have only seen one Dart which was a demo at the local dealer in Meridian, Mississippi. It was a Rallye with manual transmission and a cloth interior. I made some photos of the car and the window sticker.

        Here is a breakdown of the price on the window sticker.
        $17,995 – Base Price
        $1,000 – Rallye Package (17″ wheels and projector fog lamps)
        $555 – Premium Audio Group
        $1,300 – 1.4 Liter Turbo MultiAir Engine
        $495 – Uconnect 8.4N SatNav/CD/DVD/MP3/SD Card Input
        $195 – One Year SirrusXM Satellite Radio Subscription
        $295 – Uconnect Voice Command with Bluetooth
        $795 – Destination Charge
        $22,670 – Total MSRP
        $2,500 – Additional Dealer Markup
        $25,170 – Grand Total

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @Joe McKinney:

        The $2500 dealer markup is the difference we’re talking about, not to mention the pricey option list.

        My local dealer has 19 Darts on the lot, no dealer markup.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I stand corrected. I really figured customers would expect a sunroof at this price point for a compact. That would add another $895, btw. Also, the Premium Audio, XM/Sirrus subscription, and Voice Command with Bluetooth are all mandatory when you upgrade to Uconnect w/SAT. WTH don’t they just list the required stuff as a single option rather than have you hit a $495 receiver and then find the price is really $1,540? Do they still think that little of their customers? Honda doesn’t play that game. They call it a technology package and show buyers the full price and feature list simultaneously rather than selling the feature and then playing gotcha with the real price.

  • avatar
    skor

    Interesting. A friend of mine went looking for manual hyundai Accent and the dealer needed to call half a dozen other dealers before he could find one in stock. Dealer charged a premium for this service.

  • avatar
    lubbock57

    Some cars are born to be driven as a manual. My last manual was a ’07 911S…..no way was a manumatic going to be shifting my gears.
    Doubt the Dart owners would feel the same way.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    @jackbaruth- misleading title Jack, I expect better of you. Actually the Dart is selling very well. (see automotive news today) The take rate may be slower on manuals, but they still need to be offered in that particular segment. About 20% of compact/midsize drivers express an interest in manual transmissions, Chrysler would be foolish to walk away from that market, and Sergio is nobody’s fool.

    For those of you too lazy to do your own homework, the Dart has 3 transmissions available. A dedicated manual, a dual/direct/clutch/ manual and an autostick automatic.

    As for quality and price, I’ll repeat what i’ve said here before, most of you are speaking from ignorance and hate, without bothering to check your own assertions, and Chrysler will CONTINUE to do well in the marketplace, without any support from people like you. Check back with me in 2 years time, losers.

    The Dart was designed to be sold around the world, and is going on sale in China shortly, rebadged as a Fiat. Many markets still prefer a manual transmission over an automatic, not everyone is as fat and lazy as Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I’m fat, and I’m lazy too, but I damn sure love my 3 pedals! :)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Chrysler’s history in the last twenty years is full of missteps, but it looks like the 2008 crisis galvanized them and they came out of it much stronger (unlike GM who is so-so in my estimation). Cheers to the Dart, unless I start reading about it chewing through trannys or gumming up like the 2.7L, its probably going to be a success.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I’m not fat, and aspire to be lazy. I now drive a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      “Actually the Dart is selling very well.”

      974 cars in two months is not selling well. Not at all. Not when you are trying to compete with the Civic and the Focus.

      ” About 20% of compact/midsize drivers express an interest in manual transmissions”

      And how many of those who ‘expressed interest’ end up buying one? Back to single digits again.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I found the autonews.com story about Marchionne congratulating himself for the Dart launch. It’s pretty cheeky to suggest that selling 772 of a mainstream car in its second month is a victory just because you only sold 202 cars in its first month. Now he expects 3,000 in August with 7,000 in inventory. That sounds like a good inventory level for a car that sells 3,000 a month, but I don’t see how he gets an 8 day turn when it would take him two months for dealers to sell their Darts if deliveries stopped tomorrow.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        The sad thing is- even at the rate of 3000 a month, it would STILL be a failure. Remember- the Mazda 3 in the same sector, sells at a clip of 8000-9000 a month. This is a 3rd tier car maker with a limited network. And the Mazda 3 is in its 3rd model year already.

        3000 a month means it’s selling worse than the Fiat 500, which is a niche novelty car with a miniscule network.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Devils advocate here. Sitting in stop and go traffic with a stick just sucks. Move half a car length, stop; repeat for 15 miles. Left leg gets sore, clutch gets abused. I’ll take an automatic every time.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      …could be worse…

      …could be a lurching, jerking PowerShift in a Focus…

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      You are doing it wrong. The trick is to trundle along slightly slower than the average speed of traffic, leaving PLENTY of room in front of you so you can ride out the standing waves of stopped cars. Works a treat, do it all the time on Rt 128 around Boston. And while you would think that people would rapidly fill that big gap ahead of you, it doesn’t happen. I can go the 20+ miles of nasty traffic between the I-95/Rt128 merge and my office in Waltham and shift maybe 2-3 times.

      Automatics are the CAUSE of most of that annoying standing wave traffic. Too easy to do the stop and go, so no one thinks about what they are doing.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Who are you kidding? The people in the next lane will jump in front of you and fill the gap, and force you to brake.

        Let’s face it- the manual transmission just sucks in traffic.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “Who are you kidding? The people in the next lane will jump in front of you and fill the gap, and force you to brake.

        Let’s face it- the manual transmission just sucks in traffic.”

        This does not happen often in traffic where I drive (Pacific NW) and I vastly prefer the manual transmission in my car to the 6-speed automatic in my wife’s car, which always seems to be in the wrong gear.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        I agree with icemilkcoffee. Up here in Toronto when people try that technique on the highways, said space is immediately filled in by 2 cars from any adjacent lanes. And the fools KEEP TRYING TO DO IT which makes me want to jump out and strangle them. “THROTTLE IT YOU FOOL YOU’RE LETTING THE WHOLE HIGHWAY IN FRONT OF US!!!”

        Krhodes, if the technique works for you, then people in Boston must be REALLY well mannered on the roads.

        But as for manuals sucking in heavy traffic, I personally disagree though I totally understand why some would feel that way.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Yep, I’ve tried that and people just jump in front of me forcing me to hit the brakes. For me, commuting to/from work in stop-n-go is mind numbing and perfectly suited for a slushbox. Weekend and “fun” cars is where I want my 3rd pedal.

        For a time I did have a Mazda 6 with 5 speed as a commuter. It was an ok drive but I was beating it within inches of it’s life driving it too hard because of the stick shift. (Hole opens in traffic, downshift, speed into place, slam on brakes, repeat…) Meanwhile I found my Accord was getting babied when I commuted with it as it had an auto. The Mazda wasn’t top quality IMO and it was starting to have issues probably due to commuting abuse so I dumped it.

        Maybe it’s me but the manual transmission was made for the open road.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Not creeping, dead stop. Foot off clutch, foot on brake dead stopped. Car behind me tailgating, both of us stopped. In DC that gap will get filled.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I’ve done it all over the country, I travel for a living. Works like a charm. Realistically, if you are in the far left lane, why would anyone bother to get in front of you just because there is a gap? The car in front of ME usually isn’t going any faster than they are, and half the time is slowing down or stopped. The point is to leave JUST enough gap that YOU don’t quite reach that car before he starts up again, and because you are going just slightly slower, the gap opens enough that when that person runs up the backside of someone and stops, you don’t have to. There is simply no reason to be tailgating in heavy traffic, the person in front of you is niether going to go faster nor get out of the way. If someone does get in front of you, so what? You are going to get throught it all of a micro-second slower than you would have anyway.

        I find traffic to be a mildy amusing game. And to the person who wondered if Boston drivers are especially well-mannered – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Obviously never driven anywhere near the place.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Surprisingly, this technique works for me most of the time, and I drive in the NYC area and on the Major Deegan (87). Yes, every now and then, someone will jump in, but not so many that the technique is unusable.

        Sometimes, I even find a kindred spirit behind me who leaves a similar gap and trundles along.

  • avatar
    Franken-Subie

    Dart with a manual transmission for $23k? Better have a 340/4barrel and RWD

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Just make it a wagon, put a diesel in it and they will fly off the shelves at above sticker.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    They are discouting the manuals $2000-2500 in winder (starting at 19K, ralley 20K), ga–but the Ford fusions and focuses are still less expensive at the same dealership(You can get a “loaded” Ford Fusion SEL for 21-22K).

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      New 2013 Fusion is why the 2012’s are clearing out at bargain prices. That is a poor comparison with the newly introduced 2013 Dart.

      • 0 avatar
        jeoff

        So, maybe long-term, the Dart may do better–when it doesn’t have to compete against this batch of final year mid-sizers (and when Dart discounts filter to the automatics, as well). But, we are looking at current sales, which means competing against like-priced domestics– 2012 Fusions and Malibus, in addition to Focus and and Cruzes, which can be had for much less. Right now, the Dart is not competing on price with other domestics. Unless you love Chry-co, can’t see them being worth the extra $$.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Everyone on the Internet drives/loves manuals. Everyone on the street in real life in the USA drives an automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      It is more like:

      Many people on car enthusiast internet sites (a small part of the internet) want manual transmissions.

      Many people that buy cars are not car enthusiasts.

      I have owned nine cars, all with manual transmission, eight with rear wheel drive. People are willing to walk the walk.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      No, no, no.

      These are the absolute minimum prerequisites for the car everyone is lusting after:

      1) Wagon and/or 5-door hatchback

      2) Diesel motor producing no less than 10 brake horsepower and 11 lbs feet of torque per lbs of vehicle curb weight

      3) A real world combined city/highway 48 mpg

      4) Trimmed in whale foreskin leather seating areas

      5) A 5 speed manual gearbox (old school style)

      6) Rear wheel drive (but with an optional 17.284% power to the front wheels AWD system)

      7) 0-60 time of 5.1 secs; 1/4 mile in 11 secs @ 112 mph

      8) Base price of $14,999 and fully optioned for $15,299

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        10 brake horsepower …per lbs of vehicle curb weight

        That WOULD be impressive! 3000lb car with 30,000hp. Perhaps you meant 10 pounds per horsepower?

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        “4) Trimmed in whale foreskin leather seating areas”

        ROTFLMAO!!

        eew…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @Tr4

        Yes. Thanks for catching that. I did mean 10 lbs of curb weight per 1 brake horsepower.

        2) Diesel motor producing no less than 1 brake horsepower and 1.1 lbs feet of torque per each 10 lbs of vehicle curb weight

        If the manufacturers and OEMs are following me here on TTAC (they are), and making future decisions based on my criteria specified (they are), you just probably saved them from mass cardiac arrest.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    They set it up for failure. This could be a fun car with a manual, at about $17K, for for $23K there are too many better options for the kind of driver that would want a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      This could be a fun car with a manual, at about $17K,

      It IS 16k.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The first paragraph of the article states that:

        “The initial batch of Darts were released as ‘Rally’ models with manual transmissions for about $23,000 — and apparently, one of the Allpar reader’s dealers has an ADP sticker on top of that! The Darts don’t seem to be selling. Not for $23,000, and not with a manual transmission.”

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Come on- this is not a BMW. No domestic car ever sells at the MSRP price. You can pretty much throw the MSRP out the window. The actual selling price will be closer to 17k than 23k.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The type of audience that insists on a stick shift in a modern car is almost exclusively made up of car enthusiasts.

    Car enthusiasts aren’t interested in the new Dodge Dart.

    Back in the day, you had people insist on stick shifts because they got better gas mileage, lasted longer, were simpler to maintain, were cheaper to buy etc. but now stick shifts are almost purely purchased for the sportiness factor.

    I’m in the camp of wanting a stick shift for my fun 2nd car, but not for my commuter car.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There is also the group that is too cheap to pay an extra grand for automatic. I expect the majority of econoboxes sold with manuals fit into this category because enthusiasts don’t want those cars.

      But considering that automatics make up about 95% of new car sales, that groups is small.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    4 articles in a row where Baruth has not put down the FR-S, the urge must be eating at him from within.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I read that Import Tuner dyno’d a FR-S (that they’re turning into a project car) at 160 whp (okay, it may have been 161 whp) from the dealer’s lot.

      True story, too.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Another issue for the Dart is the quality of the manual. I haven’t driven it, but Michael Karesh didn’t have many nice things to say about it in his review. If it’s as bad as he thinks, that won’t help. It’s not like we are talking about a shifter comparable to an S2000, TSX, Miata, etc.

    It isn’t always as simple as either automatic or manual. Sometimes an automatic actually works pretty well, while the manual on the same car sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      You’ve described my experience when I test drove a Dart. I really didn’t like the manual shift.

      I didn’t like its function, but I also didn’t like its gearing. In commuting, you might only use the first 4 gears – partly because 5 and 6 are so tall, but partly because the 1.4T is totally gutless below 3000 rpm.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I drove one and I kinda liked it. Coming from older vehicles as well as trucks and Jeeps, I’m used to long-throw shifters and immediately found the Dart to my liking. I also thought the clutch pedal take-up and feel was pretty good overall – much better than an ’08 Mustang a buddy had.

        My only gripe is that the engine RPM hangs a bit when you press the clutch pedal – it makes driving the car smoothly a bit of a challenge. What I like about my Jeeps is that the moment you press in the clutch the engine RPM drops like a rock.

  • avatar

    There are several Limited models with manual across a couple of non-affiliated dealerships here in Austin listed at $25k…
    Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    acehunter

    ’71 Volkswagen Super Beetle – 4 speed manual

    ’92 Nissan Sentra SE-R – 5 speed manual (purcahsed new and still driving – over 280K miles).

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    With the advent of dual-clutch transmission, there is really no reason to have a traditional manual transmission anymore. The dual clutch transmission shifts faster than your hand could shift, and does it while synchronising the engine speed. There is no loss because it is a direct drive. No different than a manual transmision. Engine braking is identical to a manual transmission because of that direct drive. So in short- the day of teh manual transmission is over and thank god for it. In another 10 years nobody will clamor for it any more than anyone clamoring for non-power assisted brakes or manual advanced distributors.

    The Dodge Dart with the 1.4 turbo engine has a dual clutch trans as option.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I had a 2006 Jetta TDI with the DSG. The shifts were so fast and precise that power flow from the engine to the wheels was almost uninterupted.

      That said, I think a lot of the manual fans enjoy working the clutch and doing the shifting themselves. From this perspective dual-clutch and manumatic transmisssions will never substitute for a traditional manual.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Nothing stops you from shifting the paddle shifters yourself with a DSG!

        As to people who enjoy riding the clutch in traffic- I’m sure they’ll find some other S&M devices to torture themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        After I got my Jetta I tried the manual shift mode a few times, but it wasn’t the same as a traditional manual and the novelty wore off pretty fast.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        That really is all it comes down to. I just enjoy the act of shifting, and the added involvement. A certain “oneness” with the car. Automatics add a disconnect that I have never been able to enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      indyb6

      @icemilkcoffee – I know DSGs are sweet, but pedal shifters are just not the same. I know they can be vital on track, but for a daily driver, a clutch and a gear lever are the most satisfying (in my opinion).

      And I know the agony of having to manually change gears in heavy traffic. That is what keeps me from getting a manual.

      And on a somewhat related note – I absolutely hate it when people use the term “stick shift”. Even more so when enthusiasts do. I know its easier to say than “gear lever”, but I guess its a personal pet peeve. I hope I did not offend the B&B by ranting.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @indyb6

        I say or write “stick shift” because “gear lever” conjures up an image of an automatic gear lever, and more often than not a steering column mounted one ala Buick Roadmaster, for whatever reason, in my mind.

        It may not be rational (or maybe it is), but that’s just a reflexive thing.

      • 0 avatar
        indyb6

        @DeadWeight – I can see how a steering column mounted lever might come to mind. Oh well. I will have to control my pet peeves.

        I did love driving my grandpa’s ‘Premier Padmini’ with a steering column mounted 4-speed transmission. That thing was awesome. And the bench seats were groovy too.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      I’ve driven an Audi A3 with the 2.0T and the DSG. In theory, it’s a great car and the transmission works nicely, and I could pay cash for a new A3 equipped with said gearbox right now.

      Would I own one? No. No automaker has yet to produce a reliable dual-clutch transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        That I agree with. Maybe the technology still needs a few more churns to mature to a place where it’s reliable enough to not be an expensive timebomb.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        I bought my Jetta DSG new and kept it to right at 100k. I did all of the scheduled maintenance and never had any problems. That said, the idea of owning a high-mileage, out of warranty DSG did make me nervous. Sooner or later something will go wrong and these things cannot be cheap to fix.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “The initial batch of Darts were released as “Rally” models with manual transmissions for about $23,000″

    According to Kelley Blue Book, a 2.0 liter Rallye with 6MT has a sticker for $19,790. I suppose that one could option it up to the $23,000 level, but that doesn’t look like a typical MSRP.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    I suspect the price is more the problem than the manual transmission is. At 23k+ you’re starting to get into the range of much more interesting cars

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Current : 2006 Scion xB
    1995 Toyota Corolla wagon
    Past : 1964 Ford Falcon wagon
    1965 Chevy Malibu sedan
    1970 VW Squareback
    1980 VW Rabbit
    1982 Toyota Corolla coupe
    1994 Saturn wagon
    All manauals , which I prefer , though I have owned some automatics also . And I think it depends on the car you are looking for . When I was shopping for a used Scion a couple of years back the ones with sticks seemed to be priced similiarly to the automatics . Of course IMO the problem is two-fold , the baby boomers , who generally preferred sticks in their younger days are all old and bloated . The younger kids often never drove a stick in their life . And the wagon type utility vehicles usually don ‘t offer a stick . I ‘ m not in the market for another sedan – I ‘d prefer a small lightweight wagon or similiar with a stick – not the new and pretty ugly if you ask me – Dart sedan .

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    I hoped it was going to be better, because who doesn’t want to see America’s Opel — ours but in foreign hands — do well? — but they pulled the same thing as GM with the Eco: screwed the pooch on the engine.

    People are willing to give it a look, which is what makes it even worse for Dodge, as it won’t get a second look on an improved power train. A friend of mine was replacing her Pontiac and thought it was going to be sporty — it’s Dodge, right? Some people believe the old positioning! She found the Fusion I4 or a used Impala to be sportier. For somebody who wants a fun, cheap car — and, if they want to recapture the Neon’s main buyers, they were younger women, and they want cheap and cheerful — it’s not cheerful to put the pedal to the floor and have it limp along.

  • avatar
    Swamp Yankee

    Never owned a car with an automatic….

    Past:
    1978 Datsun B210 coupe 4 speed
    1986 Nissan Stanza AWD wagon 5 speed
    1996 Toyota Tacoma 4WD 5 speed
    1999 Volvo V70 5 speed

    Current:
    1988 BMW 325i convertible 5 speed
    1991 Ford F-150 4WD 5.0 Liter 5 speed
    1993 Volvo 245 Classic 5 speed

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    “That philosophy claims that if manufacturers just make well-equipped manual-transmission cars available to their early adopters, they will reap huge rewards”

    Only its not. The philosophy that the realistic enthusiasts have been pushing, even here from this site’s comments, is for manufacturers to simply OFFER a manual option on the well-equipped models, and reap the rewards. Many manufacturers, if they even offer a stick, only offer it on the base penalty model. All we want is the option on higher trim models, even at extra cost, or with the requirement that it be special ordered.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Or, like with the Challenger and G8, you can’t get stick with the base model/engine.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Reap what rewards? An extra twelve sales a year? (And those sales will probably be of used cars.)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Reap what rewards?”

        The best form of advertising is word of mouth.

        Sticks attract enthusiasts.

        Enthusiasts serve as evangelists for the brand (or at least for the nameplate), which provides the word of mouth, which helps to sell cars to non-enthusiasts.

        Honda got the benefit of this from the Civic. The Civic attracted tuners, who carried the brand message to those around them, including plenty of others who aren’t so enthusiastic, but who still look to their circle of acquaintances when seeking advice for their car purchases.

        I don’t wish to oversell the value of enthusiasts, but it does make sense to have a niche model within the lineup that attracts them. However, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect those cars to sell in high volumes, since enthusiasts are, by definition, a small percentage of the population.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    And as usual, the comments are full of irrational anti-slushbox comments.

    Why don’t people just come out and call us slushbox owners all kinds of names?

    Would that make them feel better? Bigger?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Agreed – some cars are just better suited to an automatic. Would I have wanted a manual trans in my 1990 Crown Vic I used to own? Absolutely not.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      In my opinion, an enthusiast is someone who really enjoys a thing, including its variety. Car enthusiasts enjoy manuals, but also get excited about new automatics that perform well. They appreciate the Fit for being so reliable & usable, and they acknowledge the importance of the minivan in the history of the automobile. They value FWD for its improved handling. They like small cars & big cars because each has a purpose to fill.

      There are others who call themselves enthusiasts who really just like going fast. There are still others who call themselves enthusiasts who have to have a car a certain way or else it must be junk. That’s not an enthusiast, that’s a snob.

      It’s a lot like how Jack wrote about FWD being *BETTER* (!) than RWD for the normal, day-to-day driving that most people do. The utter shock and horror expressed in the comments on that thread was telling.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    People don’t buy manual transmission cars unless they are either lower end models, or higher end performance models. Chrysler and everybody else knows it, and this car is neither.

    For the weight of this thing it needs over 200 HP and 200 torque to be considered at the low end of low priced performance cars. This car simply has the wrong engine choices for the current times, all 3 of them.

    The Dart does look good though, so they will sell to those who don’t know or care about the weight.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      We have had this discussion time and again, and your logic is wrong. Sure, the MAJORITY of buyers that buy sticks buy the models you specify, but enthusiasts tend to prefer stick in mid-level models. By limiting offerings to those 2 opposite ends of the spectrum, you limit the choices. And since very few manufacturers offer in-between options, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Think maybe shoppers just don’t like the Dart. I have seen a couple on the dealer’s lot nearby, and I do not see anything all that special about them. Stick or automatic. In my view Chrysler brought another loser to market.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Perhaps it will take a while, a year even before the general public realizes they can get a compact, non-economy manual. The perception out there seems to be that manuals are “economy” only and therefor why would any one even put a car like this on their shopping list because it more or less does not exist.
    Hopefully Dodge sticks (pun intended) to the stick and changes the market.

    I also think that Dodge should offer a free manual driving course with the purchase of a manual dart. That would attract those who are to timid to try a manual because it is easier than most people think.

  • avatar
    JSH56

    The lack of sales has nothing to do with manual transmission. The lack of sales is because it’s a POS Dodge.

  • avatar

    I have to throw my hat in the ring here. Am I looking to buy a Dart. Well hate to say this but YES. Will it be a manual, of course. Will it be a 1.4 … ummm no. I am going to hold out for a solid R/T with a larger engine or a SRT version. I have not bought a new car or truck since 2001 (and that one was a lemon and then some, but it was a manual, no love for the General any more thanks to build quality) I am ready for one now though, and after having a 1995 Neon ACR you can guess why I am going to wait. Would I go for the slush box.

    NO! Only a few cars I have ever had have had one.

    1969 BMW 2002 Auto.. it got converted to a 4 speed
    1987 Sterling 825SL Never again
    1980 Peugeot 505 SD non turbo diesel slushbox OH MY GODS SLOW, reliable but SLOW

    The other 30 or so cars. All 4 or 5 speeds or 4 speed + OD (Swedish Panther LOVE!), and no I do not eat clutches with them.

    Would I pay 23,000 for the Dart right now. OH HELLLL NO, not unless it was a hopped up 2.4 turbo SRT! I am hoping that in a few months to a year some nice juicy incentives come along for the manual Darts. Especially if they are going to build 20% of them as manuals. If not I am going to wait for a hot version. The reasons…

    Everyone drives a Honda/Toyota (boring)/Focus/Nissan/ … So there is some stigma attached, not to mention. Honda makes you a Honda driver. Toyota is BORING, Focus, meh.. just they do nothing for me. Never has never will. Nissan, well sort of bland to me I guess or they are too metrosexual generation Y. Then we have the Koreans. I am a avid Hyundai fan, but I just do not think I can live with one until the wheels fall off. Kia, well not my favorite but same thing as the Hyundai. General Motors OH HELL NO. Though I have been Eyeballing the Buick a little bit. But no, bad taste in my mouth still.

    I do not mind the styling of the Dart, I think it looks ok, and with Black on Black it would be a bit sinister with some nice tint. I have also been eyeballing the TDI sport wagon from VW, but then I recall all my 2000/2001 Passat problems and begin to get the shakes especially when I see the price tag.

    But the baseline is, the Dart is going to have to come down in price or have some really nice incentives for me to consider the 1.4 with a manual and all the toys on it. BRZ and Mustang.. sorry looking for 4 doors. So really in the segment they can not compete. I do want some toys, but not the LCD instruments for some reason they just bug me.

    Of course for 20K, why don’t I just do up a 1995 Caprice wagon. Put some nice wide tires on it. (But not dubs ICK!) do it black on black, drop in a 5 or 6 speed, massage the small block and have a one off hauler cruiser/ dog hauler and have cash left over for the tank? (It would be panther love, but where is the wagon? Oh yeah Country Squire with a truly horrid look that was killed in 91. Now if I could get a 99 Crown Vic Wagon. I am SOLD SOLD SOLD)

    But I think it is going to be a Dart next year, I really do. But I am going to wait. Besides the Pug will make this winter.. I hope. So I should have some time to shop around.

  • avatar

    We’ll have to see how this plays out. I test drove a Dart rallye manual and liked it but really want to test drive the RT part of the issue with pricing on the dart is they let you get a huge array of different packages compared to say the Honda civic which locks you into 3 packages on two models. I like the dart and don’t understand the issue with the interior I thought it was very class competitive. Also as mentioned I believe the 23k number is a little misleading but it depends on how the cars optioned. The one at my local dealer rings at 21k.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    My last 3 cars were all manuals, a 1983 Honda Civic, 1988 Honda Accord, and my last vehicle was a 1992 Ford Ranger with a 5spd stick, and 4.0L V6.

    All three were bought used, well, I inherited the Accord, but bought the other two used, the Civic was purchased in 1992, Got the Accord in the fall of ’98, and bought the truck in ’06, trading it in back in January.

    What do I drive now? a 2003 Mazda Protege5 with a 4spd sport stick autobox. Yes, some will say it’s a slush box, but it’s less of one, thanks to a lock up torque converter, and I do shift it, much like a manual, every time I drive it.

    What I love is I can still control WHEN I shift up, or down, or simply let the tranny hang in a gear (like zipping along from one light to the next, never getting beyond 2nd before slowing down for the next light if I want).

    True, it’s not quite the same as a full manual tramsnission, but it’s a nice compromise, and as slush boxes go, this one’s decent, well, very decent, except it’s a 4spd, which the P5 could use that extra cog on the highway so zipping along at 65-70 could result in better highway mileage.

    However, I did learn to drive a stick shift with my cousin’s ’76 Jeep CJ-5 at their family campground back in 1982. You could not set the parking brake as he’d taken out the release lever so every time I had to get out to empty garbage cans into the small trailer being towed by the Jeep at the campground, I had to shut down the Jeep.

    Then to get going again, it was restart the car, let up the clutch slightly until it begins to engage a little, take my foot off the brake, and manipulate the gas and clutch to start off as the campground was in the North Georgia Mountains, so there were some hills on the property, none steep, but enough to learn to use a clutch on hills though.

    I had a time about a year or two ago, where I was going to go back to an automatic for a variety of reasons, but part of it was the truck. It had a heavy clutch that didn’t like it when the revs dropped below 2K rpm or it’d buck like a bucking bronco, so it meant lots of shifting, holding the clutch in while doing slow rush hour traffic crawls along I-90 back into Seattle.

    But for a car with a manual that can do the real slow rolls without this issue, a manual would be much easier to live with under those conditions.

    However, if I had my druthers, I’d have ordered the Protege 5 with a manual when it was new, and had it equipped with ABS/side airbags, add the sunroof and roof racks – and in something other than black (not my first choice), like red or yellow and I’d have had the car where I want it, but I didn’t buy it new so it is what is is, and I love it none the less, sport stick autobox notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Ciddy, I know you love your car, you do post about it enough lol, but the torque converter is exactly what makes your car a slushbox. That is the defining difference between a regular automatic and a dual-clutch automated manual, like the DSG in my GTI. Your auto with “sport shift” is just like any other auto that you move the shifter into different gears. And it does make a difference, I bought a Protege5 brand new (you would have loved it, it was yellow with a stick sunroof, and roof rack) and I tested both transmissions… with the manual that car really comes alive.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Mmm4ever,

        Point taken, the autobox in the P5 is technically a slushbox, but it is less of one, and believe me, I know, prior to the Civic, I drove American iron, with 3spd autoboxes, all dating from 1968-1978 time period, so the 4spd autobox feels less slushy than most, even if a standard autobox with a manual gate.

        That and I never said it’s a replacement for a GOOD manual, just that it happens to be better than many out there, just needs an extra cog at least for highway cruising.

        To me, it’s a good compromise for those of us who end up having to go back an automatic. Now, in larger cars with more powerful, read, torquier motors, not as necessary, but it helps there. In cars like the P5 or cars with less hp, being able to manipulate the gearbox to keep as much an the power band as possible, definitely, a manual, or an automatic with a manual gate really helps (provided it’s used, and properly).

        heck, my Mom’s 4spd autobox in her 2004 Dodge Stratus feels slushy and I don’t get that direct feel between the motor and the wheels so that even makes the P5 autobox feel more direct than it probably is.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        No doubt the P5 auto is better than 70 tech American iron, but then again almost any current automatic is too. I disagree that it is a “good compromise”… if you have to compromise, get a DSG like I did. That’s a decent compromise, and technically performs better than the stick. And no torque converter, it has a real clutch (2 of them technically) and shifts faster than I can myself. Herky jerky on take off though.

        In reality though, I wish I had gotten a stick, the extra convenience and performance isnt worth the trade-off. But much like you, I purchased it used, and had a very hard time finding a stick shift version of the GTI that worked with all the other factors required when buying used. Sometimes you are stuck with what you can find.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’m not sure what the 4 speed auto transmission is in the Protege5, because mine has 5.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Get over it car fans, manuals do not sell. Only for sporty cars do they add value.

    And the idea posted on car boards of “Gov’t should make people buy them” ? This isn’t 1961 East Germany!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Biggest drawback for stick-shifts in America is what they’re worth at trade-in time. Since many Americans shopping for used cannot drive a stick-shift, trying to sell a used one to them is really tough.

      And if you have to replace the clutch-plate in one and can’t do the work yourself, you’re in for a real wallet shredder.

      The job is simple if you have all the tools and the hoist, but it is labor-intensive and requires an extra pair of hands in addition to your own.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Replacing a clutch is never as expensive as replacing or rebuilding an auto trans.

      • 0 avatar
        noxioux

        Respectfully disagree. If repair cost is an issue, the manual wins hands down due to its mechanical simplicity.

        I can’t imagine a Dual-clutch box being anything but an exercise in shade-tree mechanic HORROR.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Rebuilding automatics is actually pretty simple. I have personally rebuilt a C6, a C4 and several Bang-shift TorqueFlites (for my dad’s dragster).

        Once you drop them, which can be done by one guy alone, you pull out the innards like an exploded view, replace what you want to replace, and reassemble in reverse order.

        Replacing the clutch-plate on any vehicle with a manual transmission requires extensive alignment of the plate with a special tool, and lining up the splines just right to get the transmission to slide in and line up.

        If you’re off, your bolt holes on the bell housing won’t line up and you have to start from scratch again because you cannot brute-force a clutch-plate unless you can release the tension on it. If you release the tension on it, the clutch-plate often drops out of alignment and won’t line up with the hole. I kid you not.

        This cannot be done by one person alone, even if they have a three-axis jackstand. It requires a force on a fourth plane, that of sliding the transmission forward when the splines line up, while at the same time adjusting the transmission along the X, Y and Z axes.

        Most people are not equipped to do this type of work and that’s why it costs so much to replace a clutch-plate. But replacing an automatic transmission is relatively cheap, as long as you’re willing to swap yours for a rebuilt one at Autozone, Pep Boys, NAPA or any of the parts houses.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        SO let me get this straight: You think that replacing a clutch is too hard because you need a helper, but rebuilding an auto trans is easy??

        Even though most trans shops dont even bother to rebuild them, they just swap them out? And even though practically any mechanic in any town will replace most clutches for less than $500??

        A replacement auto trans is usually $750-1500, depending on the car, or more for many. Plus labor. You simply cannot say it costs less to replace an auto trans than a clutch.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I wrote, “And if you have to replace the clutch-plate in one and can’t do the work yourself, you’re in for a real wallet shredder.”

        If you drive in traffic jams or do a lot of clutch work, you will need to replace a clutch-plate much sooner than you’re going to have automatic transmission replacement or rebuilding done.

        The topic is: “Manual-Transmission Darts Are Sticking To Showroom Floors” and I believe that is because,

        “Biggest drawback for stick-shifts in America is what they’re worth at trade-in time. Since many Americans shopping for used cannot drive a stick-shift, trying to sell a used one to them is really tough.

        And if you have to replace the clutch-plate in one and can’t do the work yourself, you’re in for a real wallet shredder.

        The job is simple if you have all the tools and the hoist, but it is labor-intensive and requires an extra pair of hands in addition to your own.”
        ___________________

        I’m sure it depends on where you live if a clutch-plate replacement costs $500 (all in). In MY area, non-dealer repair shops charge a minimum of 5 hrs labor @ $75/hr ($375), plus parts (clutch plate, throwout bearing, resurfacing of fly-wheel) and the job usually totals around $700, plus tax. (Depending on make, often over $1000)

        If you take it to a dealer to have fixed you’re looking at more to spend, unless it is under warranty and the plate is worn beyond the 1/16th” minimum clutch material.

        Most dealerships will not replace the clutch-plate under warranty if you burn it or it is worn to less than 1/16th inch during the warranty period, because the clutch plate material is designed to last for the miles specified in the warranty, under normal conditions.

        In MY area, completely rebuilt automatic transmissions cost anywhere from $600 (exchange) for a THM350, to over $4000 for a Murano CVT (not exchangable), plus a couple of hours labor for the swap, and a ton of money depending on how much fluid it takes and what kind. And then there is the tax, of course. Few shops actually rebuild automatics any more. It’s cheaper and quicker to swap.

        All automatics, except maybe the CVTs, will generally run a lot longer than a clutch will last in the same traffic density and shift regimen.

        So, generally speaking, an automatic will last longer than a clutch plate of a manual transmission, if driven under the same circumstances.

        My kids used to buy stick shifts, but they got wise. They all drive automatics now. Stick shifts are fun, until you need to replace that clutch plate.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        You make some broad assumptions to support your logic, little of which is actually true. It is true that most auto trans tend to last a fairly long time, 150k+ miles, and a clutch probably wont last as long. Unless you get a bad one, that fails at less than that. And there are plenty of failures, which is why every New Or Used post people start screaming about staying away from autos for longevity. A clutch, on the other hand, will almost always last at least 75k or more.

        As for pricing, why would you go to a dealer with a minimum hour standard for a clutch that almost any mechanic will do cheaper? Same thing with an auto… once a car gets that old why bother with dealership rip off rates? And even if you do, if you compare the SAME car, auto or stick, and compare the price to change the clutch vs swap out the auto, I will guarantee it will always cost more to replace the transmission. So is the clutch the wallet shredder?? Hardly. On something like a FWD compact car like the Dart? You would be hard pressed to pay over $500 for the clutch. For me to have a racing clutch installed in my mid-engined MR2, requiring dropping the entire engine to get it, I am looking at less than $500. I have never ever heard of anyone paying $1000 for a clutch, maybe on a newer Porsche 911 or something but not a regular car. Conversely, I have never ever heard of anyone paying less than $1500 to have an auto trans replaced, and usually they are more like $2500. I would rather pay $500 every 80k miles than $2500 every 150k miles.

        Finally, you assume people buying a new car are thinking of future resale value when they choose the transmission. I say not the enthusiast. He wants the stick because it is more fun, and dollar for dollar, he knows the worst transmission problem he can have is a replacement clutch, at significantly less cost than a possible auto trans failure at who knows when. Most non-car people buying a car will be trading it in long before either one needs replacing, they are just buying the kind they most like to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        “This cannot be done by one person alone, even if they have a three-axis jackstand.”

        I beg to differ. When I was 16 I installed a clutch in my 1965 Mustang with a Borg-Warner T-10 without a jack or a helper. I put the transmission on my chest and managed to line everything up (after a few failed tries, of course) and get it back together.

        A few years later, I talked a friend through a clutch job on a late ’70’s Celica (my hand was injured so I couldn’t assist – just direct him on what to do) and he lifted and installed the transmission without the assist of a jack. He had it easier than I did since his trans was aluminum and the one in the ‘Stang was cast iron.

        Bottom line is that installing a clutch without specialized tools is relatively easy – I’ve done 5 so far in my life, and even when I did have a jack, it ultimately became more of a hindrance when it came time to slide the trans home than a help.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Okay then! We agree to disagree!

        The bottom line remains, stick shift cars do not sell as well as automatic transmission cars in America.

        And MOST Americans do not have the ability or skill to R&R a clutch-plate on their own car.

        Still, regardless the reasons, “Manual-Transmission Darts Are Sticking To Showroom Floors.”

        But this is good news according to some. It means that these MT cars will be heavily discounted soon to get them off the showroom floors. Sounds to me like an opportunity to buy one.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        mnm4ever – Speaking of broad assumptions, I don’t know how you can insist on $500 on the high side for clutch replacement.

        In the SF Bay area, you are doing well to find a labor rate around $100/hr. You are probably going over $500 in labor alone. Most large metro areas probably aren’t far behind. Clutch kits start in the $150 to $200 neighborhood on compacts and only go up from there. To stay under $500 you need to drive an economical car in a relatively low cost of living area.

        As optimistic as I find your clutch repair estimates, I’ll agree that it is almost always cheaper than replacing an auto transmission in the same car.

        The catch is that the clutch is a wear part and replacement is inevitable, where an auto transmission failure is a roll of the dice. If you buy a used car with 80k or more miles and keep it for any length of time, you should probably budget for a clutch replacement. This scares a lot of people.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @burgers – I didnt say $500 was the high side, I said it was a good ballpark average. If you live in SF and pay more money for labor for a clutch, you will also pay more labor for an auto trans replacement. My point stands: car for car, location for location, a clutch replacement will cost less than an auto trans replacement.

        I think the real argument here is that you are pretty much guaranteed to have to replace a clutch on an older car, say 80k miles like you suggested. But you may, or may not, have to replace the auto trans. I agree. But I think I would rather buy an older car with a stick, knowing I might have to replace the clutch soon, giving me time to shop around, perhaps even do it myself; rather than taking the risk that I bought a car with a crap auto trans that will need professional replacement. IMO, a $500 clutch is not nearly as scary as $1500-2500 for a possible auto trans replacement. You could even negotiate a new clutch into the purchase deal. Try that with an auto.

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    I’ve only had one car with an automatic. High school girlfriend taught me to drive on an old diesel Rabbit and never looked back.

    1986 Nissan Sentra (3sp auto)
    1995 Plymouth Neon (5sp man)
    1995 Nissan 200SX SE (5sp man)
    1996 Saturn SL2 (5sp man)
    1995 Honda Civic Vx (5sp man)
    1983 Honda Civic DX (5sp man)
    1987 Honda Accord LX-i (5sp man)
    1986 Nissan Pickup (5sp man)
    1995 Nissan Altima (5sp man)
    1982 Volvo 240 (4sp man w/ OD)
    2003 Toyota Matrix XRS (6sp man)
    2012 Mazda 2 (5sp man)

    The wife drives an Automatic Impreza; I’m thiiiiiiiiis close to talking into her into trading it for a WRX, but the manual-only is a sticking point :

  • avatar
    djn

    Current 91 alfa 164 5 sp
    Previous
    75 VW dasher 4 speed
    59 Alfa Giulietta spider 4 sp
    69 alfa 1750 Berlina 5sp
    84 Audi 4000 quatro 5 sp
    87 Citroen CX Gti Auto, sadly would have been an outstanding car with a 5 sp, but selection in the US was very, very limited
    69 Alfa 1750 GTV (wife)
    79 Fiat Brava Wagon 5 sp.
    A series of GM dustbuster mini- vans (wife)
    2000 Toyota Sienna van (wife)
    1980 Fiat 124 spider 5p (son)
    1991 BMW 318is 5sp (son)
    1995 VW cabrio – auto (daughter) hand me down from Grandma

    Now that we are through the minivan stage of life, wife wants Citroen DS Safari Wagon.

    My next car? Saving my pennies for a new Alfa someday or maybe an 500 Abarth.

    My son was very hesitant about a manual, but once he learned, he loves it.

  • avatar
    pdog

    Re the Dart sales, is it just me or has the advertising for this car been weak/nonexistent? I feel like I saw far more TV/hulu ads for other cars released recently. I would think that would be a bigger factor. That and the anemic 2.0L base engine, which, despite its higher numbers, seems to offer performance on par with that of the 2.slow in the base Jetta. I’m sure the turbo is a better bet, but with that torque/power curve, I’d still want the manual so I could make sure I stayed in the power band.

    I’ve mainly owned VWs from the pre-Mk4 era – VW slushboxes back then were not known for their extreme longevity or ease of servicing, so I’ve always driven manuals. Also, I find a manual transmission can partially make up for a lack of horsepower. But yeah, they are increasingly rare, and it is increasingly rare that people know how to drive them.

    I’ve had nasty freeway/urban commutes in areas with horrible traffic – SF, LA, Seattle, Boston – and I’ve never had a problem with the clutch. It’s nice to be able to control the car’s speed without having to use the brakes as much. Now if the clutch were incredibly stiff I might feel differently, but I think most modern cars have clutches that are very easy to operate. And I find that, once you’ve driven the car enough, it really becomes second nature so that you don’t even have to think about the clutch or the gears while driving. In fact, I find it more difficult to drive automatics in stop and go situations.

    Does any car company in the US still have a car that is ONLY available with a manual transmission? I’m thinking VW’s US-market Fox may have been the last one, other than maybe some exotic sports cars.

  • avatar
    solracer

    I don’t know if 20% of sales being manuals is so far off, the Fiesta is at 21% and it has a very good 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Mustang is even higher at 36% and if previous years are any measurement the Miata should clock in around 90% while the Fiat Abarth is only available with a manual. Of course the Cruze is at 9% so maybe the Dart fits that demographic more than the Fiesta’s.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/19/us/manual-car-question-comeback/index.html

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The Fiesta has what is close to universally recognized as being the worst 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. I have little doubt that both the Fiesta and Focus have higher take rates for manuals than they would because the alternative is a clunky mess that feels unlikely to last much past the warranty period.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    If the prattling of auto blog reading enthusiasts in any way reflected what kind of cars Americans actually drove, there’d be a diesel station wagon with a 6MT on every dealer’s floor.

    Oh, wait there isn’t.

    In another thread people gave me BS for calling every car in America an appliance. Well, the Dart with its MT eschews the appliance stereotype and let’s see how well it’s selling. That confusing metal and plastic protuberance and the confusing third pedal is already a deal breaker for Americans who are now likely SECOND GENERATION MT drivers.

    No one cares that every car you’ve bought is an MT. There are a hundred of people who don’t know how to drive/want an MT. Any car I’d want to buy that there was a remote chance of the wife driving has to be an AT, because she refuses to drive an MT (our WRX is an AT). And I’m not taking a 12 hour road trip without a driving partner.

    America is not like Europe, there’s no culture of MT. They used to be popular because AT’s were dreadful, slow, and there was a fuel savings so every miser bought the base model–and that cheap association persisted to this day. Now AT’s are fuel efficient and most car manufacturers don’t even bother to sell an MT variant of many cars, and those which are offered are usually crappy, rubbery, cheap MT’s with sloppy clutch travel. We’re to the point where we forgive lousy MT’s because at least there IS an MT in a sea of automatics.

    The inadvertent Fiaysler Dart experiment (our bailout dollars at work padding the pockets of foreign nationals) proves that NO ONE WANTS A MANUAL.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Does no one want a manual, or does no one want a Dart? I’ll probably buy more new cars with manual transmissions, but a Dart won’t be one of them. Some previews have been ridiculously complimentary, but actual tests point to a car that is heavy with inefficient, unrefined power-train options, an unattractive interior, and pricing that doesn’t compensate for any of its shortcomings.

  • avatar
    darex

    The “take-rate” for manuals amongst MINI and Hyundai Velosters is quite high (30%-50%).

    Perhaps it’s the CAR + Chrysler Fans that is the problem. Perhaps those of the Chrysler ilk are manual-averse, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for those who prefer “imports” and other quirky small cars.

    One model’s issue does not necessarily say ANYTHING about the hackneyed stereotype about Americans shunning manual transmissions.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    I like manuals, I learned to drive on a Chevy Suburban manual, started out with a commercial license. Drove a 5 speed w/Split axle in high school.

    The problem is, my wife didn’t.

    She got her DL at 32. So when her Ford Escort Auto began to die at idle, she couldn’t cope, and with my well practiced left foot on the brake, and my right foot on the gas, to keep the rpm up, I drove it to the shop. She is convinced that she can’t DO that.

    So we have a mixed marriage. One optional manual operator, One mandatory auto operator, so we always buy an Auto. Anyone fail to understand that? Didn’t think so. Just want to keep her happy, and that means she has to be able to drive BOTH CARS!

  • avatar
    brettc

    My manual cars:

    1985 Jetta diesel
    1989 Jetta Turbodiesel
    2003 Jetta TDI
    2002 Golf TDI

    My automatic cars:
    1993 Golf 2.slow – the wife’s
    2000 Jetta TDI – the wife’s
    2012 Jetta wagon with DSG – primarily mine

    I just bought the Jetta wagon 2 weeks ago. I got a DSG because it’s our new trip car and I needed something the wife could drive. I was going to buy a manual and this time successfully teach her how to drive one. But she insists that it’s too hard (hehe). So I gave in and got the automatic. Because as we all know – if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

    In the words of Maurice Sendak…the sad thing is, I like it. It’s actually a nice automatic and the manual mode is nice to have so I can still kind of have a manual transmission. Combined with the common rail TDI, it’s a really nice combination. Hopefully it holds up for the long haul though.

    • 0 avatar
      Vyk

      brettc, I got the slushbox in my 128i for much the same reason. My wife also feels it’s too hard to drive stick, so it was either a stick and we’d continue to take her Saturn L200 on trips, or an automatic and we’d take the 128i on trips. (Which would you pick?) I’m pretty pleased with it, though–it’s no replacement for a third pedal, to be sure, but it’s a very direct feel for a slushbox (stays locked up as much as possible) and the manual-shift mode is acceptably quick.

      I share your concerns about durability–one of the points against a 135i for me was the DCT. If I were leasing, it’d be a no-brainer, but I like to keep cars for a long time and have more faith in the longevity of the conventional slushbox. [Insert joke about BMW long-term reliability here.]

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    In my last job some of our company vehicles were sticks . It was inconvenient to have employees who couldn’t drive them so we would have to teach them . Many were illegal immigrants from Mexico or Central America , who unless they had driven before coming to the U.S. usually had only driven automatics , or twenties -somethings from the U,.S. , who usually were more likely to be able to drive stick if they were women . The older employees usually had driven manuals in their younger days . The point is , it’s not THAT hard to learn . If you are married and have a little patience you should be able to teach the dumb ass wife – or husband – to drive a stick . Incidentally , I remember one kid who said he could drive a stick- shift , it turned out he thought we were talking about a auto-clutch trans like he had in his car .

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Brought to mind the time I had rented a pre-Volvo Mack to haul bricks, cement, tile and mortar up from El Paso, TX to my house I was building in the desert.

      Once there at my worksite I asked my young helper to move the Mack and the flatbed so I would not have to maneuver my forklift as much to pre-position the pallets. He drove a pickup truck so I had no idea that he could not drive a stick or manage a clutch.

      What a mess that was! It’s hard to stall a rig, but he did it several times and I swear I smelled an overheated clutch. Maybe he tried to move it with the trailer brakes on, but the unloading took a lot longer than the loading did.

      Finally, I just maneuvered the forklift a lot more and took longer runs pre-positioning the pallets.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    It just occured to me that the price of a manual Dart with decent options isn’t far off the starting price of a Focus ST.


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