Another Model Loses Its Manual Transmission

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

There’s probably no shortage of eyeball rolling over this headline, as manual transmissions wouldn’t be fading out of the marketplace if buyers actually desired one.

Once upon a time, a stick-shift guaranteed better fuel economy, but those days are pretty much gone. It was also a great way to reduce the entry price of a particular model, but automakers’ thirst for larger margins and fewer configurations means what few base, stick-shift models roll off the line are often hidden from consumer view in the real world. This only serves to sink popularity even further.

The ongoing trend has apparently reached the Honda HR-V, which undergoes a mild refresh for the 2019 model year. As part of this update, say goodbye to the six-speed manual in Honda’s smallest ‘ute.

Honda spokesperson Chris Martin confirmed to CarsDirect that the three-pedal setup disappears from the HR-V stable for 2019. The tranny served as the go-to for front-wheel-drive LX and EX trims in the United States. An extra $800 swapped the stick for a continuously variable unit that just happened to return better gas mileage — a whole three miles per gallon more on the combined cycle (31 mpg for the FWD CVT, 28 mpg for the FWD manual).

Having once driven a base FWD, manual HR-V, I found the experience obviously more engaging than coasting around in a CVT-equipped model. Honda’s traditionally low gearing and the base model’s skinny tires made the HR-V’s presence known during jackrabbit red light launches. Not boredom-inducing, at any rate.

But customers seem to prefer the seamless spool-up of a CVT, and that’s the way it is. The stick-shift HR-V’s take rate remains a mystery, though it couldn’t have been very high. (“High” meaning any figure approaching 5 percent).

With the manual bowing out of the HR-V, the smallest utility segment grows ever more devoid of sticks. Besides this year’s HR-V, buyers can choose from just the Kia Soul, which may or may not qualify as a crossover, the Jeep Renegade Sport, and the Subaru Crosstrek to satisfy their row-your-own lifestyle.

(A query sent to Honda Canada as to whether the Great White North model sees a similar powertrain change didn’t yield an answer by publication time. We’ll update this post when we hear back.)

[Image: Honda]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jul 01, 2018

    Not htey're, they're

  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Jul 02, 2018

    What is awful is that manufacturers so often prevent you from getting a manual in the upper trim levels; by defacto they are creating the environment that kills manuals. I'd love a manual transmission in an upper trim level vehicle. I cling to my 20 year car because it is a manual.

  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon