By on August 26, 2016

2016 chevrolet spark ls

Are you sure you want to save the manuals?

In theory, of course, you want to save the manual transmission. You enjoy driving. You enjoy enhancing the man-machine connection by synchronizing movements between your left foot, right hand, and right foot. You value the art of a perfectly timed shift, of properly holding a gear through a corner when even the most intelligent automatic would upshift. You know the corner. You know driving. You know how to get the best out of a Ford Fiesta ST half an hour before sunrise on Italy’s Stelvio Pass, even though you’ve never set foot outside Iowa, even though you drive a RAV4 Hybrid.

“What? I would’ve gotten a manual if Toyota offered one,” thou doth protest too much.

As we approach greater degrees of autonomous driving, as roads fill up and speed limits are not altered to reflect our vehicles’ huge improvements in stopping ability and safety, saving the manuals sounds like a noble campaign. Preserve that last shred of pure driving already forsaken by Ferrari, by performance-oriented Porsches, by the general populace that believes their right hands are better off holding a skinny cinnamon dolce latte than a leather-wrapped shifter.

But I’m driving proof, a $9,995* 2016 Chevrolet Spark, that we shouldn’t paint with such a broad #SaveTheManuals brush. We should save some of the manuals, but certainly not all of them. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2016

2017 Toyota 86 Front 3/4, Image: Toyota

Toyota has released 2017 prices for some of its small cars, and it looks like a name change (and modest power increase) tacked a slight premium onto the Toyota 86, formerly the Scion FR-S.

A sign of our automated times, it looks like the manual transmission’s days could be numbered in the Corolla lineup. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler

There’s been plenty of digital ink spilled over the forthcoming JL Wrangler, due out in 2018. Jeep is a huge cash cow for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, so the pressure is on to design a Wrangler which appeals to the general public and placates the hordes of rabid Jeep fans — who are known to gather torches and pitchforks at the mere suggestion of even the slightest design change.

A diesel option has been widely speculated, along with the chance of a turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant, both hooked to eight-speed automatics. Now, Andrew Collins over at the Truck Yeah arm of Jalopnik speculates the new JL could be offered solely as an automatic. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2016

Valeo Electric Turbocharger

Matt writes:

I am anticipating that my 1997 Subaru Legacy wagon, with 210,000+ miles on the clock, will need replacing soon. I’m lucky in that my wagon is a five-speed manual with the 2.2-liter EJ motor, so has been fairly bulletproof. In the last 19 years, it has needed only minimal work besides regular maintenance and wear items (brakes, clutch, tires), aside from the occasional axle or other random parts (i.e. alternator). I’ve been looking around at affordable commuter 5-door hatchbacks (Mazda3, Impreza, Focus, etc.) as it must fit multiple kids, sports gear, and I need a daily driver for work (~45 miles round trip).

Here’s my question: I would like something a little sporty as more than half of my commute is on fun twisty back roads. I keep going back and forth on whether or not to go for a naturally aspirated or turbo engine, followed by trying to decide between auto or manual. I feel like my five-speed-manual Subaru skewed my perception to believe a naturally aspirated engine and manual transmission is a much more sturdy, robust and reliable setup that’s less prone to breaking and needing repairs (fewer parts to fail) than a turbo and/or automatic.

Am I wrong?

(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2016

2016 Honda Accord Sport at Sunset Front 3/4 Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars

Quality of life is about making the best of your surroundings. There isn’t a car on the market today that reflects that ethos more than the Honda Accord.

After years of growing to make room for smaller models in the lineup, the Accord — which has gathered accolades as the most reliable choice in the family car segment for decades — has skipped having a midlife crisis, and is still playing like a kid. It would be easy to say the Accord has always been a favorite for us, but as the competition improves, we wanted to come back and give the Accord another go.

Here’s what we learned after several days of puttering around southern California in the Accord Sport, the value-priced model that hits the sweet spot of what you have and what you want.

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2016

2015 BMW M235i Shifter, Image: © 2015 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars

It’s had a few good days recently, but there’s no doubt the manual transmission is a patient that’s rapidly slipping away.

BMW just did its part to hasten the demise by getting rid of the stick shift option in next year’s M5 and M6, according to comments made to Car and Driver by BMW M boss Frank van Meel.

Soon, only two pedals will sprout from the firewall of the famed performance midsizers. But don’t blame the automaker. They’re just responding to consumer demand, or lack thereof.

(Read More…)

By on August 30, 2015

bmw-228-track-7-1

UPDATE: According to commenter krhodes1 and Facebook commenter Michael Smith, the 228i manual (order code 162A) is still available and there is a bug in the configurator. Which reminds me, you should like The Truth About Cars on Facebook.

Jalopnik is reporting that a number of BMW models — namely the 228i, 328i, and 428i — have lost their manual options for 2016. BMW’s online configurator for the 2016 model year shows the cars as automatic-only options, effectively making the manual transmission a premium option by forcing manual-loving customers into higher trims.

Does this mean the end of the manual transmission as we know it? Probably not. (Yet.)

(Read More…)

By on July 29, 2015

x5manual

BMW may be coy about it, but there’s no denying that manual transmissions are dying a fairly ignominious death in most cars. It’s a shame. Manuals are more often found as slushboxes in econo-drones with cloth everything paired to a remedial engine.

Cheap manual transmissions aren’t worth saving. In 20 years, when everything except your mountain bike comes with an automatic transmission, will you look fondly on the Chevy Cobalt’s 5-speed guessing game? Probably not.

(Read More…)

By on July 20, 2015

2016-audi-tt-roadster-04

When the next Audi TT RS arrives in the U.S. in 2017 (and earlier elsewhere), it will be so advanced that you won’t even have the option of “shifting gears” in a “manual” fashion.

Isn’t it nice of Audi to make that decision for us? Decisions — like coordination — are pretty difficult, after all.

(Read More…)

By on July 7, 2015

2015 Dodge Challenger 6-speed manual shifter

With news that BMW’s M division might give up offering manual transmissions altogether along with the plethora of automatic-only performance options from other automakers on the market, the battle to keep the manual looks bleak.

Not only that, but automatics seem to just be the better choice for a number of other non-performance options as well.

(Read More…)

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