By on July 22, 2020

bronco

Last week’s biggest automotive product story was the unveiling of the next Ford Bronco.

Last week’s second-biggest automotive product story was that if you want the Bronco with the off-road-oriented Sasquatch package, you won’t be able to get it with a manual transmission.

The #savethemanuals crowd got more than a bit mad on the tweet machine, even though at least one user (I’d link it, but I don’t recall the dude’s handle) reminded people that sometimes slushboxes are better off-road, especially with today’s tech. I don’t know if that’s true – a lot of mudders will tell you they like to clutch-start their rigs on the trail – but if so, it’s a good point.

Thing is, one of the cool things about the Bronco is that the manual is being offered with the 2.3-liter engine, and it appears it will be offered on both the two-door and four-door variants, and as well as most trims.

I was already thinking about this mild kerfuffle when I woke up on Friday, the 17th of July, which happened to be National Stick-shift Day. Right around the time I logged in for another day of toil in the TTAC salt mines, more manual-transmission news broke. Before I could even finish my morning coffee, I was finding out about the demise of the manual-equipped Honda Accord, along with the Honda Fit and Honda Civic coupe, both available with sticks.

Of course, the Civic coupe and Fit died due to slow overall sales, not because they were available with manuals, and the Civic lineup still offers stick shifts, but it still leaves the market with fewer manuals overall.

Honda later clarified that the brand still plans on making manuals available in segments in which customers express interest. Translation: Base Civics, Civic Sports, the Civic Si, and maybe, depending on future powertrain, the Civic Type R. With the Fit gone, and the Accord going auto-only, the Civic will be the last Honda to offer three pedals, at least for now.

Manuals have been on my brain – as I write this, a stick-shift Type R sits parked in my building’s garage. It’s, near as I can tell, the first stick-shift car I’ve driven in 2020. It may be the first time I’ve rowed gears since the Civic Si launch in November 2019.

As our Rare Ride guru, Corey, pointed out in our Slack channel, lots of us enthusiasts scream about the lack of manual transmissions, and then we don’t buy them. However, as I’ve theorized before, enthusiasts may not be buying them because many stick-shifts are only available on base trims and/or with base engines. So perhaps those who might otherwise buy a manual end up reluctantly shunning the stick because they don’t want to sacrifice features and/or the chance to get a more powerful engine?

I get it – automakers don’t want to spend to build manuals that don’t get bought. And sometimes, a manual can be used on a base model to simply allow the OEM to advertise a lower base price relative to the competition.

I still wish the OEMs would at least let me test my theory by making manuals available with the biggest/best engines and top trims, to see how the take rate might change, but it’s not my money to play with.

We live in a world where there’s no real logical argument for a manual anymore. Automatics/CVTs have caught up in terms of performance and fuel economy, and in many cases, cost. The only pro-manual argument is personal preference – a preference for fun and a connection with your machine.

honda

I understand why the stick-shift is in slow decline. It’s expensive for driver’s ed classes to burn through clutches, so many people never learned. Not to mention that in non-pandemic times, traffic often sucks, and driving a manual in bumper-to-bumper blows.

I don’t consider myself a “manual all the things” guy. I’m fine banishing the manual to sports cars, off-roaders, and trucks. A minivan or a crossover has no need for a clutch. Nor do most Camrys.

The Accord, however, was an exception, as was the Mazda 6. Both positioned themselves as sports sedans, not just family haulers. So it is sad to see the Accord follow the Mazda in going to just two pedals, if not surprising.

As much as it upsets the hard-core off-roaders that Ford won’t make the Sasquatch package available with a stick, the automaker does get some credit for listening to feedback. Ford PR guru Mike Levine suggested on Twitter that if feedback is vociferous enough, the company might just make the Sasquatch available on three-pedal rigs.

I got a similar answer last November on a chilly Utah morning, as media gathered around the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel. I asked Jeep folks if they’d offer a stick, and I was told, in so many words, that they would if there was demand.

jeep wrangler

Maybe it’s just my eternal optimism – I am a fan of most Chicago sports teams, except that one that plays in the National League, after all – but even though it’s a canned answer, hearing that from Jeep (and now Ford) gives me some hope. Perhaps the stick-shift can stick around just a bit longer.

That said, those of us who want to save the stick need to buy them. Or at the very least, if you want to save the manuals, you tell the OEMs that you will buy them if they’re offered in the upper trims, and then do so.

National Stick-shift Day saw the news of the demise of one car that’s wonderful with a manual, and followed on the heels of upsetting news about another vehicle that generated excitement in part because it will be offered with a row-your-own option. It wasn’t the best day, or week, for fans of the manual.

Instead of lamenting the loss of something that makes driving interesting, let’s do something about it.

Saving the manuals starts with you.

[Images: Ford, Honda, FCA/Jeep]

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58 Comments on “Singing the Manual Transmission Blues...”


  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “However, as I’ve theorized before, enthusiasts may not be buying them because many stick-shifts are only available on base trims and/or with base engines.”

    That is a very valid theory.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      Except when Mazda only offered a stick in a higher level Trim Mazda 3 all we heard was it is too expensive, offer it in the base model, enthusiasts are never happy with what is offered :)

      • 0 avatar
        Rick Astley

        I had a Mazdaspeed3 for a few years (brand new off the lot). It was a hoot and would have been a keeper had I not needed more power and built a ~500 all-wheel-HP Evo 9.

        Currently have a Mazda 6 gt with the 2.5t, if that car had a manual it would be perfect and I would have bought it instead of leasing. Now, after 2 years of boredom with an automatic every day, it is not going to be transitioned to ownership. I just can’t live with an auto for daily driving, too dull.

        This Bronco (with 2.3 and MT) is currently leading the option list of vehicles to buy.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “I still wish the OEMs would at least let me test my theory by making manuals available with the biggest/best engines and top trims”

    The Camaro offers a manual on every trim and powertrain. The Challenger offers a manual from the R/T up to the “normal” Hellcat. The Mustang offers a manual (or is manual only with the GT350) until you get to the GT500.

    So what’s the manual transmission take rate in that segment? I’ve heard it is about 20%. If so, I think that does support that the take rate in sports sedans and trucks/SUVs would be greater than ~1% if availability were increased.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “I think that does support that the take rate in sports sedans and trucks/SUVs would be greater than ~1% if availability were increased.”

      As much as I want to agree with you, I know it’s not true. BMW ceased manuals in all trims of the 3 series in this generation because they sold less than 10% of them with a manual in the previous gen.

      Think about that – the car that created the sport sedan segment couldn’t crack 10% MT sales in 2018.

      It’s a shame because I’d be willing to bet MT driven cars have better drivers. They’re probably texting less and less distracted by screens because they have to think about shifting, braking and actually enjoying the experience.

      But most people prefer screens, distractions, picking their nose or eating their lunch to shifting.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        But 10% is more than ~1% so there is *some* degree of artificial suppression going on.
        It seems like >25% is where automakers decide that it is worth keeping a manual transmission around (I’m guessing in the pony car segment the *retail* take rate is in that range).

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Imagine if any variant of any car selling less than 10% of BMW 3 series volume, were being axed due to low sales…..

        10% of 3 series volume is a big chunk of business. There is something very fundamentally wrong with US distribution models, if catering to all those 10%-of-world-s-largest-BMW-market buyers, somehow aren’t worth vile anymore.

        And ditto 3-5% of Accord volume….

        Maybe, with the Accord out of the way as far as a competitor goes, Mazda will again dip their toes in the water, looking for some easy, win-by-walkover conquest sales.3-5% of Accord sales, has to add up to quite meaningful volume, for a more niche product like the 6.

        As it now stands, the Camry TRD is the practical sedan to buy, as it at least makes righter noises and pretends to be fun without giving up basic sedan virtues.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          What makes you think the percentages are that high? I did a search on Cars.com, there are 4104 Accords in stock within 500 miles of my home, 3 of them are sticks. That’s a tenth of a percent.

          Really, the carmakers are in this game to make a profit, if their experience told them they could make money selling manual transmission family sedans, they would still be doing so. All of them have come to the same conclusion, that in the US, manual transmissions sell in sporty cars, and not other segments.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But then you get to the dealer issue. Dealers are the automaker’s customers, and even here in New England, where manual premium cars actually sold well, BMW dealers just couldn’t be bothered to stock any. So that leaves special ordering, which BMW makes pretty easy and painless (I’ve done it twice), but it still takes time in a “got to have it now” society. So it becomes a chicken and egg situation. You won’t sell many manuals if there aren’t many to sell.

        I have no doubt this was a decent amount of the Accords issue. Another example – I wanted to give a manual Genesis G70 a go. Despite a plethora of dealers in the southern half of FL, the closest manual car to me was >250 miles away. Not making a 500 mile round trip for that.

        On the other hand, I should probably thank the automakers for saving me piles of money by not offering cars that meet my requirements. Because I absolutely would have bought both an Alfa Giulia and a BMW F31 328i wagon if I could have had them with a stick. I simply prefer to shift for myself, and I see no need to compromise on that.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I am an MT supporter. Own a sedan with an MT. Taught my wife to drive an MT years ago. Two of my three children are semi-comfortable driving MTs.

    Yet once I sell my current MT, I will only acquire another MT vehicle if it is a ‘toy’. A garage queen used only for touring the countryside or other usually summer weekend jaunts.

    So as long as Mazda keeps making Miatas with an MT, or perhaps someday in the future I can afford a well maintained Corvette with an MT, the demise of the MT will most likely have no impact on my future auto decisions.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    I haven’t driven a manual since my 2000 Cavalier. Cheap, but surprisingly durable car.

    But cheap means……cheap.

    Had a manual been avail on my 1996 Cutlass Supreme (with the V6), or my 2007 Q7(although, that’s a vehicle that really has no use for it) or my Audi Q5 (again, the 3.2 V6) all of which were top trims, I would have strongly considered it…even with a price premium.

    While base spec has come a long way, I want the creature comforts and things like heated seats and quad zone climate control…I still need an everyday family vehicle for comfortable long hauls.

    I think there could be money left on the table in the shrinking sedan segment. True sports sedans or grand tourers with a manual could grab buyers who are dead set against vans or CUV/SUVs but need some size.

    But I’m sure market research shows I’m likely wrong or in a weird,small minority.

    Maybe special order?

    • 0 avatar
      saturnotaku

      How’d that work out for the current-gen Accord, which was available with a stick for both engines? Also not seeing anyone talk about the Genesis G70, probably because that’s been an abysmal failure as well.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        True dat. It’s not like vehicles started off all having automatic transmissions and manuals had to fight for market share, there was a time when the MT take rate was 100 percent. As time went by and autoboxes got better, consumers voted with their dollars, which is why we are where we are.

        If look at where the market is going, competent and boring sells. These vehicles don’t benefit from a manual. I’m surprised that Hyundai bothered to offer a manual in the Venue, I wonder how long that will continue.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        It would have been interesting to see what might have happened if Honda would have offered the stick as a special-order option in the Touring. As it was, the Sport 2.0T 6MT was a reasonable offering, with EX-grade features like a moonroof, all the safety nannies including blind-spot monitors, and a good stereo with XM, AndroidAuto, and CarPlay. But if you wanted leather seats, or a non-black interior, you were out of luck! The Sport 1.5T was even worse — basically an LX-grade car with a slightly better stereo, and one where, despite having a keyless ignition, you still have to fumble for the fob to operate the door locks or open the trunk!

        As I’ve seen on other sites, the Accord sticks, especially the ones with the bigger engine, didn’t tend to sit around that long, and just finding one usually required a search over a large geographic area. It was partially Honda’s reluctance to build more than a minimal number of vehicles, along with only offering two variations of one trim, that killed the Accord 6MT.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    The problem is that the buying public wants less involvement with their cars, not more. Too many are excited about the time when they can get in a car, tell it to go somewhere, and wake up when it arrives, safely and quickly, at its destination. Having to shift gears would interfere with their nap. (Or their boss’s commands to do work during the commute.)

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      @namesakeone,

      “The problem is that the buying public wants less involvement with their cars, not more.”

      I’m sure you’re right. But, I’ll bet MT cars are much less likely to suffer from unintended acceleration — especially of the pedal misapplication flavor. Once or twice in the wife’s car with AT I’ve started (very briefly fortunately) to try to go forward with the gear selector still in reverse. But, I never seem to have that problem with a stick.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    The problem is that the American buying public wants less involvement with their cars, not more. Too many are excited about the time when they can get in a car, tell it to go somewhere, and wake up when it arrives, safely and quickly, at its destination. Having to shift gears would interfere with their nap. (Or their boss’s commands to do work during the commute.)

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Don’t shift for me.
    >:-O

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m not that “sad” about the Bronco issue – the manual trans Bronco will still be very capable. And I applaud them for offering it on multiple trim levels – this implies that you could actually get a stick and a decent stereo in a Bronco.

    The Accord saddens me more. I know I’m probably the only guy who would pick a manual trans family sedan (especially with the bigger engine option) to make the drive to Thanksgiving Dinner more interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I’m also saddened by the Accord. I used to have an 8th gen EX 4 cyl with the 5 spd manual. A joy to drive despite being a large sedan. Sold it this year and sometimes I still regret it, but wanted something smaller to fit in my garage along with the truck. It’s good that my fiancee also likes driving a manual so I believe we will still own manual cars for a while.
      I still have a manual transmission vehicle but it’s nowhere as fun nor roomy as the Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      The 2.3 turbo motor is an excellent motor, it’s in the GF’s 2020 Ranger and I have zero concerns for that motor adequately powering a Bronco unless in a heavily modified and specialty capacity….. And then you’re so far away from a stock vehicle that the entire driveline and powertrain really doesn’t matter.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Offering manuals is clearly a money losing proposition for carmakers. Exceptions include Miata, GTI/GLI, 2 door Porsche’s, Civic R/Si, STI, M cars and a few Jeeps.

    It sucks that we’re a small niche. Honda speaks the truth – “Honda later clarified that the brand still plans on making manuals available in segments in which customers express interest.”

    If the take rate for the Accord MT was 20% and not 1-2%, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    There’s just not enough of us willing to buy MT cars often enough for the prices carmakers want.

  • avatar
    Shane Rimmer

    I bought a Tacoma, brand new, simply to get the manual transmission. However, Toyota says fewer than five percent take that option and Nissan dropped it from there latest frontier.

    I get that a manual can be a bit of a pain in heavy, stop and go, traffic, but it’s not that bad. It’s nowhere near as bad as riding a motorcycle with a heavy clutch in that same traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      saturnotaku

      > I get that a manual can be a bit of a pain in heavy, stop and go, traffic, but it’s not that bad.

      Tell that to my left leg after spending six months with a manual in stop-and-go Chicago traffic for a minimum of 60 miles a day.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        So that isn’t so much a problem with the transmission as your location. I probably would have an auto for my daily commuter in such conditions. Many of us would never live somewhere like that however for a plethora of reasons beside preferring a third pedal.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I find automatics in traffic MORE annoying as you are constantly riding the brake. Even with the rather rugged clutch in my Land Rover, I still prefer that in traffic to any of the rentals I suffer with on work trips. And I drive the thing to Boston regularly. Rt128 is no joke, especially in the summer.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “I find automatics in traffic MORE annoying as you are constantly riding the brake.”

            Very true. I totally agree. That’s where the regen on an electric has an advantage over an automatic. One pedal driving using the regen in place of engine braking on a manual. It’s the best of both worlds. Once you get good at using the EV regen, you never need to touch the conventional brakes.

            “And I drive the thing to Boston regularly. Rt128 is no joke, especially in the summer”

            That’s part of my long commute several times a week. All the way from the 95/93/128 interchange to Winn St or 93 or Reading/Wakefield depending on what Waze is telling me. The one situation I’d trust Tesla autopilot. Even in its current state. Without that, regen with an EV beats both a manual and automatic. Also, no overheating worries on a hot day.

            When traffic is lighter, 128/95 is totally the opposite. Probably the most ignored speed limit by both drivers and law enforcement I’ve ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Giskard

      Similar story for me. I have a Gladiator mostly because it is offered with a manual in all trims. I’ve driven mostly manuals for the past two decades until the recent switch to electric for my commuter. I’ve shunned whole brands in the past because they dropped the manual option – wouldn’t even look at them. Now there are so few options left. Luckily electric cars are there own style of fun with their instant torque, but I do miss shifting.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I believe you.

    My brother in law, which rides bikes a lot, once showed me his calloused left hand.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      Agree about heavy clutches on motorcycles in traffic. My old Moto Guzzi would destroy my wrist in short order.

      It’s even worse when the bike is air cooled. The engine gets hotter and hotter, and the trans and and clutch get balkier and balkier. I still remember the first time I rode a water cooled bike in traffic — what a relief!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m ambivalent anymore. The thing I wonder about is why they drop the option halfway through a generation. They’ve already spent the money to certify the manual/engine combo so any marginal sale can be worthwhile, even if they only offer it as an ordered option.

    I can guess part of it is because the manual doesn’t work with certain safety features, and having the manual on the ticket doesn’t allow the manufacturer to advertise all the safety features standard across all trims.

    I like manuals and expect I’ll have one again some day, but it’ll have to be when I have space to park one.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      In the Accord’s case, the only thing missing, safety/nanny-wise, was low-speed follow/stop-‘n-go capability with the adaptive cruise; ACC drops out at ~22mph on the sticks. Even factory remote-start was still included, I believe, on the 2.0T Sport sticks.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I often wonder if perhaps the federal certification standards were changed.

    I have only heard (so maybe this is totally wrong) that each combo of engine and transmission requires the full gamut of testing (crashing etc).

    If we were to change those standards to eliminate the transmission requirements, would this allow more manuals to live? They just have to certify the engines, the transmissions don’t matter?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I agree. I see this sort of thing brought up a lot but it would be nice to have an article about what exactly is required to do something like add a V8 option or a manual transmission to a vehicle.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Well, every car I’ve ever bought with my own money (all in this century; I’m not THAT old), new or used, has had 3 pedals. There.

    #doingmypart

  • avatar
    nutbags

    Every car I have purchased or leased for myself since 1983 has had 3 pedals. A manual transmission makes a boring car more fun and I’ve owned a few boring ones. I fear that when my current Mini Clubman S lease is up in a year, there will be little choice left. Hopefully the G70 still has the MT and I can find one.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Until 3 years ago all I ever bought (both new and used) had a MT. I needed to replace my Lincoln LS (rusted out after 17 years and 190,000 miles). Wanted 4 doors, RWD and MT. The Chevy SS was tempting but I’m too cheap to buy a $50K car, didn’t trust that parts would be available in the long haul (had enough of that with the XR4Ti when it got old) plus the low fuel economy would bother me. So with nothing I liked I moved onto an automatic. I still have my Ranger and Corvette but I miss the long trips in a sedan with a stick. By the time I’m in the market again I’ll have to give up on the sedan.

  • avatar
    emineid

    1. With modern turbo engines (e.g. G70), you have usable torque at low RPM down to 1500, that with a stick shift, you shift from 1st through 6th gear by the time you reach 37 mph when driving normal traffic. That is too many shifts to do in a few short seconds. It is not like the old days, when you had a 110 HP car with a 5 speed where you shifted up every few seconds, taking time, in normal traffic. In modern turbo 2.0 cars with a stick, you end up shifting through the gears 1-2-3-4-5-6 in rapid succession by the time you reach 40 mph or so in normal traffic. There is just no time to enjoy the shifts.

    2. I did an experiment where I swapped the 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires from my G70 stick shift to my 2010 Accord LX stick shift. The Accord handled truly *excellent* through corners. it cornered like it was on rails, had little body roll, and even felt balanced like a RWD at legal speeds! I put Goodyear Assurance Comfortred on my G70 and it handled like a FWD boat in a wallowing sea, with body rolls, imprecise, scary. This experiment made me think that the great handling we see in the higher-end cars may be *largely* due to the tire choice. So when we pay for a nicer car, are we paying mainly for more power and better noise isolation (in terms of the chassis)?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I don’t get it. Every new car I have purchased since 1998, a 1998 Civic EX, 2004 Mercedes C230, 2006 Acura RSX Type-S, 2011 VW GTI, 2015 Honda Accord, and 2020 Veloster N, has been manual.

    I would like to say I’m a unique and a specially knowing person but that is absolutely not true. So what’s the reason they’re not popular? I think it’s because they’re not being offered, or marketed.

    My Accord was very difficult to get with a manual for example, as was the Mercedes. The other cars were easier but that is because the RSX and Veloster only came with a manual, and it’s a pretty common choice on the GTI and Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      This is the truth and its self feeding. No one buys them because they are not available. Dealers don’t order them because no one buys them.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I think we could say the same thing about crossovers. When I bought my Veloster, they had something like 85 Tucsons, and 1 Veloster N. 1. One! I get that the N is kind of a special car but the number of Tucson’s dwarfed even the number of Sonatas and Elantras.

        I also think many of the sedans built in the last 10 years have been half hearted efforts which almost seemed intended to fail. Who actually thought the last generation Chrysler 200 would sell? Also, while I know it’s a good car, Honda had to know that sales were going to decline with this generation Accord given the styling. Intended phase-out maybe? I don’t know.

        Sorry to go all X-Files here. But I’m starting to sense there’s some steering and planning going on with automakers.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “The only pro-manual argument is personal preference – a preference for fun and a connection with your machine.”

    So in other words, you want to play with your toy in traffic.

    Just like those hypermiling Prius drivers want to play with THEIR toys in traffic.

    You’re no better than, and no different from, those Prius drivers. The world doesn’t care about your feelings, snowflake. And it shouldn’t. You’re in TRAFFIC, for God’s sake. You have a social obligation to stay out of the way as much as possible, and to keep traffic moving. Playing with your toy has no place in traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m not sure what the Prius non-sequitur is all about, but there are nonpublic roads that you can drive vehicles on.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I don’t see how one’s shifting preference dictates his behavior in traffic. Other than a slight lag in acceleration while the shift occurs, a car with a manual transmission behaves identically to one with an automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The car can be made to behave identically but the ‘fun, involved driver’ behaves very differently.

        As I get older and the roads get ever more crowded the line between driving enthusiasm and sociopathy gets thinner and thinner.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      A Prius fan, going on about “snowflakes” and “social obligations”? Please, tell us what you think about mask-wearing and the Bad Orange Man!

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        by “Prius fan” do you mean “not a knee-jerk reactionary against any and all Prius cars and drivers”?

        If so, guilty as charged. I don’t see Prius cars and jump on the KKK-like bandwagon that the auto enthusiast community has created against them. You might try judging less.

        That I know more about the Prius driveline than anyone here, should shame everyone else here.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I drive it on public roads. Same as an automatic. I play with it at the track. It is totally preference in that environment as it is likely (and a certainty at the tracks that are straight, 1/4 mile slabs) that the automatic would make me faster. But in that environment I find the manual more fun and it is my money so… Driving a manual in traffic is just driving. Given the performance envelope of my manual, statistically you are probably holding me up, not the other way around.

  • avatar
    la834

    The real culprit is the move away from order-it-as-you-like with a la carte options, to buy it from a megadealer’s lot in one of only a few take-it-or-leave-it “option packages” or trim levels. This means only cars that can sell several thousands in identical form get built, which means mostly greyscale CUVs with automatic transmissions.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    In my mid-30’s, I’ve bought just one new car (part of the downfall of graduating into a recession), and made sure it would have a manual. Have I done my part and get to be disappointed at my lack of options when it comes time to replace my current car, or because I’ve had the audacity to hold onto it for six years (and will likely have it for several more), have I just not given the OEM’s enough money to earn that disappointment?

  • avatar

    A few years ago, I was training a new office in Cape Town, South Africa, for several weeks and noticed that approx. 95% of all cars were manual. Even the crossovers, minivans, and luxury cars had three pedals. I asked a trainee one day about that, and they responded “in Sudth Africah, if you drive an automatic you’re either old or disabled. There’s no other need for them.” It was an interesting view that made sense to me.

    Stateside, I’m doing my part. We currently have six cars in our household and three are manual transmission. Since my husband can’t drive a stick, it’s necessary to have some automatics in the driveway. Ever since 2002, I’ve always had at least one manual car at home, and periodically (before marriage) all the cars were manual.

    The last two cars we’ve purchased brand new, in 2014 and 2016, were manual. Part of the reason was to save the manuals, and the other part is that I truly enjoy it. Even though living in congested West LA, it rarely bothers me having to deal with the clutch and shifting. (going to LAX at Christmas was a different story)

    But there is a dilemma with finding them, and that could be a deterrent for anyone who prefers manual.

    Give Honda credit, finding a manual Fit in 2014 was easy, and they were available in any trim and any colour. No problems.

    But in 2016, when we bought the Chevy Sonic that we still own, it was exhausting. Dealers would have a decent number of Sonics (although they were always outnumbered on each lot by dull, soulless Trax’s or Equinoxs), but none would be manual. Salespeople would just laugh or look confused as to why anyone would want to shift themselves, and would either try to push an automatic on us (somehow attempting to convince us that an auto is just as much fun) or just tell us to go away. It took literally months of searching online to find a Sonic in the trim (but not the colour) we wanted with a stick. Anyone less stubborn than me would’ve given up.

    I dread what we will buy after the Sonic and hope to keep it going for many more years. It was bad enough four years ago to find options, and it’s almost impossible now. I refuse to give in to an automatic lifestyle, even if it means going down to a Mitsubishi dealer to scoop up a Mirage.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The problem with the G70 if the reviews are to be believed is that it is a bad manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      emineid

      Last year, I rented a very nice condition 2007 Porsche 911 with manual transmission. The stick shift in my G70 feels very similar to the 911. They both feel quite directly connected to the transmission, not rubbery and isolated like an E46 325i (but also, not as refined as Honda Accord, to be honest). The stick in my G70 feels worlds more precise than my 325i (which has brand-new OE bushings). The stick in the G70 is fine. The one minor downside is that the friction you feel in your hand as you row from one gear to the next feels slights rough, as if they did not polish the internal mechanisms in the transmission quite perfectly. The clutch action in G70 is not the best, got a weird hump in the resistance midway through the travel. It’s not a deal killer. Not sure why reviewers rag on the G70 stick. These self-styled reviewers are full of it. The G70 is good. It is an excellent or a very good car in every way. Most reviewers do not have an understanding of what makes a good-feeling shifter. It has little to do with the shifter itself or the linkage, and everything to to with the internals of the transmission, starting with the angle and the design of the syncro, the rigidity of the shift forks, and the design and the precision of the shift rods at the detente balls. The mainstream reviews on the G70’s shifters are not to be believed. Reviewers are *definitely* not to be trusted when it comes to conveying how good or bad a shifter is in general. They repeat the same trope about “long throw” and “notchy” without understanding the internals and their relationship to the shift feel. Frankly, many reviewers sound like unpaid salesmen for some aftermarket short-shifter kit.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        That’s good to know. I will say some of the criticisms they throw at my TREMEC unit are valid, but I am good with those compromises because those issues are a result mainly of it being way overbuilt for that application and it isn’t a Chinese hand grenade like the manual in the Mustangs seems to be. It isn’t what I’d call slick shifting but it does fit the car well.

        Manuals are highly subjective, though the shifters in my old Miata (The 5 speed was better than the 6) and my last Fiesta ST were just excellent all around.

        Just read they are killing it though.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    Having sold a 2005 TSX with 6-speed due to age to lease a Mazda 6 GT (2.5t, auto), that lease is nearly up and the car shopping begins.

    The 2021 Acura TLX was a serious contender with it’s double wishbone front suspension… Until they said there would be no manual transmission anywhere in the line. So that is out.

    The Bronco with 2.3 ltr and manual transmission (Black Diamond trim, 2-door) is actually leading the pack right now. Because you simply cannot get a decent sporty sedan with manual transmission (VW is out due to reliability, Subaru’s are not all that fun to drive, I don’t want a luxury car brand). Have no need for the Sasquatch package and auto package, not to mention that it’s probably going to be at least a $5k-7.5k bundled package.

    The GF has a 2019 Ranger with the 2.3t, it’s a fantastic motor in that vehicle, the 10-speed auto they pair with it would ruin the fun in a Bronco.

    A manual transmission in the rumored RWD I6 from Mazda could also be in the cards, but as they dropped the ball so hard in the diesel wagon 6, and failed to pair their 2.5t with ANY manual transmission across any model they make indicates they won’t pair a MT with anything making torque, I won’t wait for Mazda at this point. If it comes, they could have a buyer.

    I have never considered a SUV or off-road vehicle in my life before, but the lack of manual transmissions in cars is driving my dollar elsewhere to find driving fun and the “feel” that I crave in my automotive expressions. And the Bronco is more appealing every day!

    Full disclosure: Currently the ’51 Fleetline scratches my itch for a manual transmission. That non-synchronized 1st gear and 3-on-the-tree can be quite a bit of fun, especially with 1950’s driving dynamics and power nothing!

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    I enjoyed a manual Miata for many years (bought used of course so I did that segment no favors) But when it came time to replace it, Boston area traffic dictated an automatic. When I can finally buy a toy again I would really like it to be a manual, but how much of that is just me being old, considering how automatics are now generally better at everything.

  • avatar
    TR4

    “automatics are now generally better at everything.”

    Ever try to push start an automatic? Unless you have something like an ancient Hydromatic with a rear pump it ain’t gonna happen.

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