Juan Barnett of DCAutoGeek has compiled the definitive infographic on our favorite niche segment: manual wagons. Using inventory from Cars.com, Barnett found that of 2.4 million new cars current available for sale in America, just 2,336 or 0.09 percent are manual wagons. Subaru, followed by Volkswagen, are the big players in this very small market. BMW is sadly absent from this list, now that the 328i wagon can no longer be had with a stick, but Kia (the Soul is technically a wagon), Scion (ditto their two-box offerings) and Mini still make the cut, according to the government’s definition of a wagon. Who would have thought that Cadillac would replace BMW in these rankings?
A few months back you helped me sort out a plan of action for my Ford Fiesta transmission problems, and I have another stick-shift quandary I thought you might have some insight on.
My second vehicle is a 2003 Ram 1500 (bare bones work-truck, standard cab, manual everything), which I’ve recently been doing a lot of maintenance on (new plugs, pads, rotors, u-joints, carrier bearing, and a few other things). One issue I haven’t been able to sort out is an odd grinding/squealing I get when the car is in gear at high rpms (3000+) with the clutch peddle fully depressed (on the floor), something akin to what you hear if you come off the clutch with the shifter only part-way into gear. (Read More…)
The manual transmission is dying. We know this because other sites constantly run articles about the death of the manual transmission, predicting its final demise sometime in the next few years, weeks, or hours. Personally, I realized the manual’s future was limited on my last couple of trips to Europe, when I was given an automatic without even requesting it. On one occasion, I even returned the car without damage.
But while the manual may not be long for this world, there’s still the occasional vehicle that – against all odds, and market research – is offered with three pedals. Some are listed below, and I hope to hear about many more obscure stick shifts in the comments. Even if you’re TTAC’s top troll.
TTAC commentator sastexan writes:
One of my best friends is shopping to replace his Mazdaspeed6 for something a little more utilitarian that can hold his bicycle and gear in the back (frequent triathlete). Here’s the issue – he wants to get another manual shift car, but his wife is pressing for an automatic because she has never learned to drive stick. (Read More…)
In a couple recent Piston Slap articles you’ve mentioned that when driving car with a manual transmission its most efficient to accelerate with the engine near its torque peak, then cruise in the highest gear possible. This raised two questions in my mind: (Read More…)
While Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH) control built into a modern machine is normally your friend, it often kills you with kindness. That’s when NVH hides things that should never be hidden. Shameful. Cowardly. Pathetic. And while I wasn’t expecting this level of deceit when merely replacing the shift knob on the otherwise stock transmission in my 2011 Ford Ranger…well it was thrust upon me. And it can happen to you, too. (Read More…)
Neil Armstrong died on August 25th of this year and the nation mourned, doubly so. First for the man, and second for what he stood for: hero, explorer, icon of a time when all that was best in America rose up on a pillar of smoke and flame to dance among the heavens.
The astronauts, of course, all drove Corvettes. GM gave a white ’62 to first-flyer Alan Shepard upon his return to Earth, then a Florida dealership provided subsequent one-year leasing deals to put astronauts behind the wheel of the latest models – clever PR for sure, and yet it seemed a perfect fit. While the very first ‘Vettes were more Piper Cub than Bell X-1, those that would be piloted by the likes of Gus Grissom and Alan Bean had the Right Stuff; the fastest and best machines America could produce.
Sixty years after GM built the first Corvette (and about fifty-six since they got the recipe right), here we are with an explorer on Mars, and it’s a robot with a sarcastic twitter feed. Heroes are scarce; the cult of celebrity now shines a spotlight on the kind of people you’d cross the street to avoid. And as for the Corvette? (Read More…)
You can read Jack Baruth’s extremely thorough track-test of the 2013 Mustang V8 here.
All right stop, collaborate and listen:
The Mustang’s back in a brand-new edition,
Recaros, grab a hold of me tightly -
Flow through the corners daily and nightly
“Will it ever stop?” Yo, I think so,
It’s got grabby pads and brakes by Brembo.
To the extreme: a drag car that can handle,
Light ‘em up, stage, then wax a chump like a candle.
Right, I think that got all the Vanilla Ice out of my system. Let’s drive this damn thing. (Read More…)
As noted in a triumvirate of TTAC reviews, the Scion iQ is a fun little box that’s hobbled by a somewhat crappy CVT transmission – though, it should be noted, not to the “’Tis but a scratch” extent that the SMART is de-limbed by its godawful gearbox. The above text message was received from my wife after she drove one briefly.
Naturally, after telling her how disappointed I was in her total lack of ethics, I felt rather pleased. When I met Katie, she was a dedicated cyclist and transit-taker who hadn’t bothered to get her driver’s license until her early twenties. With a series of Acura mid-sizers rotating through Dad’s driveway, she regarded the car as either an appliance or a necessary evil.
And then, along come I with my idiotic fervour for the things. Sure, I gave up my first car for the engagement ring, but when we got married I bought a Ford Escort GT with a 5-speed and set out to teach my new wife how to drive it.
It wasn’t easy. There were frustrations and setbacks, tantrums and whining and sometimes I thought the tears would never stop coming.
She wasn’t that thrilled about it either. (Read More…)
Even as the wagon Gods smile down upon on this Mother’s Day, BMW’s announcement of an all-new 2013 3-Series Wagon still has us waiting with bated breath with the announcement of not one but two diesel powertrains.
Scion has had a sordid past. Originally, Scion was Toyota’s solution to a lack of 18-25 year old shoppers. Over the past 9 years however Scion has lost their way and lost their youth. Their median buyer just turned 42. The tC coupe, which started out as a car for college kids, now has a median buyer of around 30. Scion claims the FR-S is a halo car – to me, that means the FR-S will be bought by older drivers (who can actually afford it), attracting younger buyers to their showrooms. Despite being out of the target demographic, Scion flew me to Vegas to sample the FR-S’s sexy lines to find out.
Okay, I have a question. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule, or only perform demand maintenance? (Read More…)