By on March 15, 2019

The shouting factory that is Twitter, by and large, should generally not be considered as something that resembles real life. Between trolls and various other bottom feeders, it can be tough to find real information amongst all the noise.

Every now and then, a nugget of information appears that makes weathering the commotion worthwhile. Despite take rates being lower than this winter’s average temperatures, stickshifts are apparently a very popular topic in the Wolverine State.

According to a post in the Detroit Free Press, gearheads at a site called Autowise geotagged a bunch of tweets in two different categories: pickup trucks and manual transmissions. Hey, now those are two topics your author can get behind, Twitter noise or not.

Your author can indeed chew gum and shift gears at the same time, so it pleases me greatly that the home of the Motor City ranks #1 on Twitter in mentions of cars with manual transmissions. The good folks of Missouri are apparently fans of stickshifts as well, with places like Texas and Ohio also ranking. Must be all those gearheads spending the weekends at COTA and Mid-Ohio.

The decline of the manual transmission is as well-documented as it is long and drawn out. There are plenty of cars which have forsaken the gated shifter for an auto ‘box, deploying the vault-solid logic that computers can shift gears more quickly and with more precision than the slovenly bag of meat behind the steering wheel. Indeed, some machines are faster in the quarter mile with an automatic, not to mention the grin-inducing benefits of features like Line Lock and Launch Control.

Mercifully, some of those computer aids are available on manual transmissions, as well. The satisfaction of driver involvement and engagement with the car cannot be replicated by an automatic transmission, better quarter-mile times be damned.

2019 Ram 2500 Tradesman — regular cab

But I digress. Autowise also geotagged activity about pickup trucks on Twitter, finding that the Ram brand was the most-talked about truck in 17 U.S. states. Truck-centric Texas is included in that number. Despite its best-selling status, the F-150 had the most Twitter activity in 11 states, including its home base of Michigan. The Ranger popped up in seven, impressive for such a new nameplate.

None of this is scientific, of course, but it does make for a nice Friday afternoon diversion before diving back into the noise. Is the manual transmission on the lips of gearheads in your circle of friends, online or off? How about pickup truck brands? Chime in below.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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49 Comments on “Stick It to ‘Em: Michigan Loves Manual Transmission (Assuming Social Media Is Real Life…)...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    I do enjoy working a clutch and shifting gears.

    That said, my satisfaction comes partly from being in the right gear at the right time. Traditional automatics, in some applications, were simply poorly suited to the task. Some contemporary automatics however, are very much better than the 20 year old and older automatics. In cars equipped with a really good automatic (especially the 8-speed in the Charger RT I am driving this week!) I seldom have the feeling the auto made the wrong selection. Steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, combined with manual mode, are also a great update to the whole gear shifting routine–you can be involved if you want to, or not..!

    I have done some towing with newer pickups, and found the “tow mode” worked VERY well in most cases. I did not feel a need for a manual.

    In the contemporary market, I will consider car with an automatic transmission IF that automatic is well calibrated to engine and the rest of the vehicle. Some vehicles however, like Jeep Compass, with the 9-speed automatic, are not nearly as well calibrated, and beg for a manual.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      When I was truck shopping last year, I test drove a Ram 2500 with the G56 just to make sure I wouldn’t have regrets from not buying the last manual transmission available in a full size truck. I was not impressed with the shifter or the clutch even compared to a previous manual truck I owned. Needless to say, I ended up buying a Ford.

      As you say, the manual is really not necessary in the modern truck, where speed, performance, and driver involvement are not the name of the game. Automatics will hold any gear you want as long as you want, and that is really all that’s needed when towing.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        If you’re speaking for the mainstream ‘family car with a bed’ blinged out pavement princess trucks owned by your average joe 6-pack then Im inclined to agree with you.

        That said, pickups are such versatile high margin vehicles these days that there’s plenty of room to squeeze in something cool provided it makes sense for the model:

        Off-road focused models like the Rebel, Power Wagon, Raptor, Trail Boss, etc are sought out by enthusiasts so a manual offering here is a good move.

        The Ram SRT-10 used the TR6060. Having owned a Rumble Bee, the availability of a manual with the Hemi in a 2wd std cab shortbed would have made it, the Daytona, R/T and Sport models more than simply a trim package. Manuals on regular line crew/extra cab trucks would be dumb. But the ability to spec out a single cab 2 or 4wd truck as basically a pickup alternative to a Challenger or Wrangler respectively with some added suspension upgrades would definitely make some people happy and help amitorize a slower selling body style while helping margins. I love pickups but don’t want grampas man sedan or a family cruiser. I want a level of practicality but fun, performance and style aren’t things I’ll sacrifice.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          My personal opinion is that if you are buying a vehicle for the purposes of fun, then a manual transmission is a worthy addition, whatever form that vehicle may take.

          I love my truck, but it’s a tool to me, and a MT wouldn’t increase my enjoyment of it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have bought my Viper if it didn’t have a stick. Different vehicles, different purposes. YMMV

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Pickup trucks are cool. Manual transmissions are cool.

    … draws Venn diagram …

    Can we discuss current-production pickup trucks available with a manual transmission?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      As was mentioned above, trucks with manuals arent typically fun to drive as, say, a Mustang with a manual, or a Honda Civic Si, VW GTI, etc. And, they can be a headache when towing as well, especially when backing a trailer (as JMII mentioned below, but not even just a boat on a ramp, I mean in any situation when backing a trailer or maneuvering in tight quarters).

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are the only ones I can think of. Even then, there are limitations on what configurations are available with a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      everyonesgrudge63

      I just bought a Tacoma TRD offroad V6 with a manual and I love it. I belive the Colorado and Canyon can have one with the 4 cyl, the Ram 2500, and Nissan Frontier can be had with a manual. Not a lot of choices.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Ram HD and GM twins have already announced the MT is discontinued

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          modern automatics are stronger, able to handle a lot more input torque. There’s a reason you had to give up almost 300 lb-ft if you got the manual behind the Cummins in a Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        dig

        @grundge63

        I just got rid of a 17 taco TRD OR with the auto. I really wish I could have found a manual. The autos in the 16+ with the new 3.5l motor sux. Worst drivability on or off road I have ever experienced in a rig going all the way back to a brand spanking new 86 Isuzu Trooper. I suppose I am dating myself.

        Hope you are digging it.

        At least I got damn near what I paid for it. Crazy!

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I’m going to look at a 1999 Honda Civic coupe with a manual tomorrow, and I also inquired about a 2004(?) Ford Focus ZX5 SVT. I really miss having a manual, and I aim to change that.

    No, I wont get rid of the Taurus, I have come to realize that with the physical issues I have, having a car with an automatic is required for me. But, that doesn’t mean I cant have an alternative vehicle with 3 pedals for when I’m able and wanting to row-my-own.

    There was a time when I owned nothing but manuals, but unfortunately, that can no longer be the case. I’m looking forward to getting back in a stick shift, even if its temporary.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I’ll beat this dead horse until it gets up and walks. Driving a manual transmission makes you a better, safer driver, who is more tuned into what the car is doing. You are less likely to try and use a cell phone or a sandwich while driving a manual, and you are less likely to be shaving or putting on makeup.
    In addition, automatic transmissions are more expensive to produce and equip. They are also more prone to failure, especially newer automatics that are stuffed with 8-12 forward gears, and therefore less likely to last longer than the car itself.
    If the engine is the heart of a car, the transmission is the soul, and no vehicle with an automatic transmission has a soul.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I love manuals (daily drive one) but ironically don’t have one on my truck. The reason: towing. The idea of trying to balancing the brake, gas and clutch on a slippery boat ramp with thousands of expensive pounds behind you seems crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      Tractor-trailer drivers with manuals seem to cope somehow, including backing into narrow loading docks.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Damn, it’s almost as though they are professionals who do it for a living, and one would almost think that driving a semi is far different than driving a pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Crazy may be a bit much. If you’re coordinated, a truck’s clutch will outlast any modern automatic transmission. I do recall a time that I was pulling my sailboat out of the sound on a rocky, sandy, almost-a-boat-ramp with a 5-speed BMW. I’d fitted the trailer with nylon license plate fastening hardware to replace some rusty nuts and bolts. Apparently, the rate of acceleration in the water snapped the plastic bolts and sent my license plate to Davey Jones’ locker. Other than that, I’ve never had a problem towing with a stick. I’ve killed three automatics that I know of though.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        You can do it… but its a nerve racking experience. If the tires start to spin as your sliding now the ramp panic sets in as you fear your rig filling with saltwater. I’ve seen a few guys have this problem at low tide when the ramp is covered with slime.

        So much easier to put the darn thing in low and just drive up the ramp. I’ve been doing for 19 years without issue (2WD only as well). 2 years with a V6 Ford Ranger and 17 years with a V8 Dodge Dakota. In all these years I knew just one guy with old Toyota that was a stick. He would gun it, slip the clutch and tear up the ramp – it wasn’t graceful, but it worked of course.

        Tractor trailer drivers have the advantage of massive torque. Granted they have heavier loads but I gotta assume the low gear on those rigs make coming up an incline an easy task. Plus they do it every day. Most boaters are just weekend warriors, thus experience varies widely.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          Automatic transmissions are also spreading into heavier trucks for the same reasons they are in cars. Efficiency and driver preference. The 18 speed semi will be a thing of the past before long too.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            They already are if one requires a clutch pedal to consider it a manual— I’ve been working in heavy trucks for the last few years and there have been only a handful of legacy manuals in either fleet.

            Some drivers prefer them, but all the new guys treat the trucks like really big Camries. In the last 4 years, I’ve pushed 3 jobs on manuals in two fleets of around 4k vehicles. The manuals are very rare in heavy trucks.

            P.S. Those of y’all that think those boys in the big trucks are well-trained professional/expert drivers…

            Every man is capable of finding the opening— to be crass about it.

            Ask me about the biohazard teams.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m currently dipping my toe in the water to see what, if anything, I’ll trade for when my lease is up. I’m searching for AWD, manual, sunroof, heated seats and am running into the problem that many here have discussed at great length. There are some options available with the non manual which can’t be had with the manual. The example that comes to mind is the Impreza which I briefly considered that offers a sunroof, but only with the CVT. But for that omission I’d be all in as I don’t really need excessive amounts of power. With the other manufacturers offering AWD, you can’t get a manual.

    I prefer manuals not for any objective reason. I just like them. Not trying to get a good lap time, nothing I drive will ever make it to a track. I’m not trying to pretend that driving a manual means I’m a better driver than others and I recognize that I’m firmly in the wide part of the average curve. I prefer them because most of my friends can’t drive them and I don’t have to worry about being asked to borrow my car.

    Eventually I will need to defecate or get off the pot with the options that I want and the vehicles I’m seeking, but not yet. I’ve got time to weigh my priorities.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      You might still be able to find a previous-generation new Forester with a stick and the features you listed; our neighbors have an ’18 so equipped.

    • 0 avatar
      sneakatax

      We have similar tastes, Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE checks all those boxes. So does a 440i xDrive BMW…or a now defunct 2018 Jeep Renegade 1.4t (2019s have no manuals). The complete lack of options on manual equipped vehicles is beyond ridiculous

    • 0 avatar
      gradall

      Jeep compass Latitude 4×4, manual trans, sunroof package and heated seats and steering wheel

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I will have to keep that in the back of my head. I had figured everything went auto a long time ago.

        Several people have recommended a Wrangler, but that’s a bit cumbersome and not something I’d want to feed.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Proud to be a KC metro resident.Someone gift me a 7 sp Carrera as a reward for being a manual fan

  • avatar
    Raevoxx

    For better or for worse, the state IS the home of the “Motor City”. And that is a point of pride for many Michiganders, and many enthusiast Michiganders.

    Source: a native Enthusiast Michigander (who willingly and gleefully self-excommunicated and extricated himself from the Shit Mitt)

  • avatar
    claytori

    Mechanical Engineers are very high on the MT take rate in my experience (including self). However, one of the factors that hasn’t been mentioned much is that the cost of a CVT and a 6-speed MT probably is somewhere about the same or maybe even lower than the MT. The 6-speed makes for a large cost increase over a 5-speed because it has three shafts instead of two in order to keep it short enough to fit in a FWD package. The carmaker gets to offer the “Automatic” CVT as standard equipment.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    I give it a big fat “mehh”, this hand-wringing over the demise of manuals. I have manual sports cars, a manual 4×4 SUV and a manual 4×4 F250, but for DD’s NO WAY. Even for muscle cars – I want those to be As Quick As Possible, and these days that means automatic. 8-speed in my case, and zero complaints.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    If you’re in appliance white XL/WT/Tradesman you’re in a ace of base that someone bought for their employee to drive; not them. City traffic is slowly killing the manuals; or how do you rev-match to move half a car length? My drive home this evening involved: D.C. surface streets, a clogged merge onto an interstate to a backed-up merge to a parkway to another merge where you lurch a car length and stop to go onto a beltway to a toll road to an exit where you stop and wait for a traffic light and then about a dozen traffic lights on surface streets to get home. This is NOT unusual commute in D.C. No, there would be “No joy of matching revs as I heel-n-toe” or “feeling alive as I have more control over my machine and destiny” or whatever the save the manuals types use as a good juicy rationalization. There are days I look forward to taking the express bus. Bout the same time wise, parking is a pittance; just gotta comply to their schedule.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    Yes, manual transmissions are a big topic of automotive discussion with many of my friends. I’m a Gen Xer who grew up in a hotbed of automotive enthusiasm, where many of us learned on manual transmissions, or learned soon after getting our licenses. It was a rite of passage. We all wanted GTIs, BWMs, etc., and some at my high school had them. Decades later, several of us still have stick shifts in our daily drivers, and so do several friends I’ve made more recently, including a woman with a 6MT Mustang convertible, and another woman who went with FWD in her Mazda CX-5 just to get a stick.

    My gearhead buddies and I recognize, however, that manual transmissions are disappearing. Their disappearance from the BMW 3 Series (other than the M3) is telling. Soon, I suspect they’ll be limited to true sports cars and sport compacts.

    I figure there’s a short window when sedans will be available with manual transmissions AND modern safety technology (AEB, etc.), so I might pick up an Accord Sport 2.0T this year. I recognize the benefits of modern automatics and I deal with horrific traffic here in Philly, but I simply love driving a good manual transmission car. It’s one of my favorite activities, and I have no plans to give it up any time soon.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Twitter doesn’t matter. Only sales do. What’s the take rate on manuals by state?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      https://www.autoblog.com/photos/carmax-charts-for-manual-transmission/#slide-7443969

      Data exists by city and state although coming from CarMax it is generally used car data.

      I’ve always been a little puzzled by Albuquerque’s preference for the manual transmission given the mountainous nature of our state. But I have heard anecdotally that Albuquerque new car dealers do stock the manual version when available and people who are manual enthusiasts will fly into Albuquerque to purchase manual versions of their favorite vehicles.

      VW or Mazda fan and your local dealer doesn’t stock the manual version? Come on down!

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Mountains are the best enjoyed with a manual! I love driving through the Rockies.

        Good info. Thanks, Dan. Looks like Michigan is somewhere in the middle.

        Fortunately, manuals are still reasonably popular in the Canadian prairies so it’s never hard to find one to test drive.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    You can still get a manual in the Base and WT trims of the Colorado and Canyon but only with the I-4 2 wheel drive. For me it would be worth it to buy the Base and WT trim to get the 6 speed manual.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    A manual has been in my DD for over 30 years. But when replacing the 1970 Chevy C20 (with a MT) I got an F-150 with an auto. It’s not a sports car, it’s a utility vehicle and the 4R70W automatic makes pulling a trailer with ag tractor an effortless task.

    It’s not a recent thing either. In the ’70s I often drove several F-350 DRW with tool bodies pulling a backhoe on a trailer, auto and manual. The 4 spd MT had a huge gap between first and second. Starting on an incline was rev to valve float then pull the handle as fast as possible to get second before losing momentum. With the automatics it was a drama-free press the gas pedal and go.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Cars are cheap, really. Get two of them, with one being a manual transmission car, if that’s what’s wanted. I drive my F-150 in the snow and when I tow the boat or haul bikes to the cabin, etc., but I’m found in my CTS-V at all other times. My truck is in fourth or fifth gear whilst driving through my neighbourhood – I’m in second in the V and loving it.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s a personal choice, no need for flimsy excuses. But with big trucks, fleets, etc, yeah automatics make too much sense. Except if I was stuck driving a Sonata, little Kia or something all day, every day, a manual would be the only thing to keep me from going straight bananas, heavy traffic, no matter.

    Actually heavy traffic is when it’s funnest to drive a manual car, especially Muscle or sports. aside from a windy road, track, etc. If you look forward to not having to shift it, wide open desert or something, maybe you’re bigger fan of automatics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    2 pedals 4 ever.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    On the wide open road with no stopping it doesn’t really matter if you drive a manual since you wouldn’t be shifting. Stop and go traffic you would need to shift more frequently. I will miss manual transmissions when they are completely gone but like anything else I will adjust. I feel more engaged in driving a manual and pay more attention to my driving. Eventually most of us will have self-driving cars so it will not matter. Most of today’s vehicles are more appliance like in that there are fewer and fewer newer vehicles that I can get that excited about and many of them look the same. Most of today’s vehicles are reliable and last for years.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Aren’t manuals less prone to becoming overstressed in mountainous terrain? The additional strain on the clutch notwithstanding.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “The shouting factory that is Twitter, by and large, should generally not be considered as something that resembles real life. ”

    Not unlike the comments on this here website.


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