Where to find last remaining manual transmission cars

Dave Kunz Image
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Where to find the last remaining manual transmission cars
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The manual transmission is becoming the choice of fewer and fewer car buyers as time goes on.

What car enthusiast wouldn't love a new Ford Mustang? What about a new Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter V8 engine? And what about a 6-speed manual transmission to get the power to the rear wheels?

Yep, a good old stick shift. A fitting component of a car like this, and many car enthusiasts would say "yes" to the manual instead of an automatic.

But the manual transmission is becoming the choice of fewer and fewer buyers as time goes on. Many people today don't even know how to drive a stick, and don't care to learn. In fact, in the U.S. only about 2-3 percent of new cars sold have a clutch pedal and conventional gear shift.

And technically, automatics are better these days in most every way. In the Mustang, for example, the available automatic transmission is a 10-speed, which has four more forward gears than the manual. And more gears mean more performance, and better fuel economy.

But driving enthusiasts are concerned about keeping the fun of the stick shift in the modern car world. There's a popular social media hashtag, #SaveTheManuals, as a show of support for the stick.

While most drivers don't want to shift their own gears these days, the ones who do want to make sure the manual gearbox sticks around as an option.

It's not unusual to find a choice of a manual in a sporty car like the Mustang. Many other sporty cars still offer them too, particularly the Mustang's key muscle car rivals, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

What is unusual these days is to find a "three pedal" choice in a mid-size family sedan. But that's exactly what Honda did with the redesigned 2018 Accord.

The Accord lineup includes a version called Sport, where you can be extra sporty with a 6-speed manual transmission. An automatic is still available in the Sport, and the rest of the Accord line. That leaves the Honda as one of the few mid-size sedans available with a stick.

Most of the Accord's competitors have done away with them, including the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Passat. All those cars used to have manuals available in previous generations, but not anymore.

You can still get a stick-shift in the new Mazda6, but there's a catch. It's only available in the base model called Sport.

If you want the more powerful engine and luxury features of the upper trim levels Touring, Grand Touring, or Signature, you'll be letting the car shift its own gears. Trim levels are only available with automatic transmissions.

So if you like grabbing gears and working the clutch, it will be up to you - and the car makers still offering it - to make sure the manual transmission doesn't go from "endangered species" to "extinction."