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Oh, manual transmissions. Why do we have to love you so much? Stick shift cars and trucks are clearly on the way out. This trend isn’t new, but it is spreading more with every next model. At this point, there are very few new cars and trucks that still offer “standard shift” as standard. Hell, even the Mazda Miata’s manual gearbox is on the way out. Even though the future of the manual transmission isn’t looking great, there are still a few holdouts. These are the top five best manual cars for 2021. 

Porsche 997 GT2 RS interior featuring a manual transmission
Interior detail of a Porsche 997 GT2 RS sports car, taken on March 11, 2019. (Photo by Daniel Pullen/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

The best cars that still come in manual aren’t the only cars that still have it

We must understand that although we want to bitterly blame the youths or increasingly lazy drivers for the death of the three-pedal car, the truth is, modern automotive technology is simply outgrowing the stick shift. 

According to Gear Patrol, not only are electric cars – who don’t really have gears like that – becoming more popular, the automatic transmissions are just getting more efficient. The stick shift is something that can’t really be justified anymore outside of the fact that enthusiasts just like them. While that is a very compelling argument, it turns out major corporations don’t really care about what we like; they care about what we buy – and people buy automatics. 

Although only five made the cut for this list, there are more than five models that still have a manual transmission here in the states. However, there aren’t all that many more…

The Jeep Wrangler is still manual, for now

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler easily navigates a sand dune and is great for beach adventures
2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 | Stellantis

The Jeep Wrangler has been through more changes in the past three years than in the previous 30. However, the one thing that has yet to change is the Wrangler’s dedication to manual transmissions. While it may be an increasingly less popular option, it is still an option, and that is all that matters. 

Since this is a list of the best manual cars, the specific Jeep Wrangler that earns its spot on this list of best cars that still come with a manual transmission is the top-tier 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. This model comes lifted with trail-ready tires, cool off-road features like lights and winches, and special graphics packages and colors. 

The 2021 Ford Bronco comes in manual

The 2021 Ford Bronco slides through the sand proving its one of the best manual cars available in 2021
2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

The 4×4 community was skeptical of the resurrection of the Bronco. Still, once we learned more about what Ford intended to do, the skepticism quickly turned into a nearly rabid desire for more information. 

The fact that its turbocharged four-cylinder engine configuration came in a 7-speed manual transmission immediately perked the off-road fan’s ear’s up. The further we’ve gone through the saga of the 2021 Ford Bronco, the more we have learned our skepticism was unwarranted, and the excitement is more than warranted. This is easily one of the best manual cars for 2021.

Does the 2021 Porsche 911 GT3 come in manual? 

An image of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Convertible build parked outdoors.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS Convertible | PCarMarket

Miraculously, yes! If the manual gearbox is endangered in regular cars, what does that make supercars with a stick shift? There are almost no high-end supercars these days that still come with a stand shift package. However, Porsche is still holding on for now. 

The rarity of the manual in this segment is strange because supercars like the Porsche 911 GT3 are already as impractical as it gets, but these cars aren’t for practicality; they are for enthusiasts. So, why not make Ferraris and Lamborghinis with three pedals? It seems like a no-brainer, alas.

The Mustang Mach 1 comes in manual

2021 Ford mustang Mach 1 with manual transmission in white
2021 Ford Mustang | Ford

This is an easy open-court layup for the best manual car of 2021. American muscle cars should always have a manual option, and the 5.0-liter V8 Mustang Mach 1 delivers on that patriotic ideal. 

If the muscle car segment – which has never bothered with trying to be current – loses the manual, then we are truly doomed. The Mustang is holding out, and for that, we should all be grateful. 

Thank God the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro still comes in manual

The pickup truck market is an eternally confusing one. Of all the vehicle types, this is the one that should never lack the cheaper, simpler manual option. However, there are very few trucks on the American market that still offer this pragmatic feature. 

Thankfully, the 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is giving people what they want. Since the Toyota 4×4 line is still living in the past, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see that it is still making some three-pedal trucks for those of us who miss the old unkillable pickups from the days long past. 

Long live the manual transmission!

No matter how hard will all hope and pray, the fact is, the writing’s on the wall. Manuals are on the way out. Whether by electric cars or some other futuristic paradigm shift, the manual transmission will disappear. For the time being, let’s enjoy one of the best manual cars still available in 2021. 


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