Should you Choose a Car with a Manual Transmission?

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Should you Choose a Car with a Manual Transmission?. Manual transmissions are known for providing higher performance and gas mileage than automatic transmissions, but this is not evident in today’s new-car market, where stick shifters are becoming increasingly rare.

In this day and age of advanced automatics, are there any advantages to looking for a clutch pedal in a new car or truck?

Should you Choose a Car with a Manual Transmission?

The Impact of Manual Transmission on Fuel Economy

For the majority of the twentieth century, manual transmissions provided a distinct gas mileage advantage over automated transmissions. There were various reasons for this, ranging from technical (torque converter designs in automatics drained power from the powertrain) to practical (a manual driver could perfectly match gear selection to traffic conditions and geography, as well as deactivate the gearbox when idling).

The twenty-first century saw significant breakthroughs in automatic gearbox design, which began to close the fuel economy gap. The number of gears available for automatics increased from four to six to eight to ten, allowing smarter computer controllers to make better gear selections with more sensor data to guide them. Automated dual-clutch gearboxes did away with torque converters entirely, although classic automatics received significant improvements. Finally, continuously variable automatics were introduced, which can constantly adjust their gear ratios to precisely balance efficiency and performance.

All of this has shifted the fuel-efficiency pendulum in favor of automatic transmissions when comparing the same model automobile.


The days when practically every vehicle’s base grade included a manual transmission are over. There are very few manual transmission vehicles still on the market. According to J.D. Power, only 1.7% of new vehicles sold in 2022 include the technology.

Although a few economy-oriented options remain, such as the Mazda 3, the majority of manual-transmission vehicles on the market are enthusiast models, such as the Ford Mustang and Subaru BRZ, or utility vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma and Jeep Wrangler.

The Subaru BRZ is $1,500 less expensive with a manual transmission, while cars like the Mustang and Mazda 3 require purchasers to upgrade to higher trim levels to receive a manual transmission, highlighting how clutch pedals are now aimed at niche automobile buyers.

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In general, fewer drivers understand how to use a manual transmission, and even fewer are inclined to seek one out. The rarity of this function works both ways, making a manual car unappealing to the majority of customers, even if it is valued by a tiny fraction of shoppers. This tends to reduce the residual value of most manual-equipped vehicles.

For example, Kelley Blue Book predicts that as of July 2023, a 2020 Honda Accord Sport with 36,000 kilometers is valued $22,420 with a manual transmission and $23,437 with an automatic transmission. When the two versions were first released, they were priced identically.