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Manual transmissions are a dying breed. Government fuel economy regulations force auto manufacturers to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of a gallon of gas. Subsequently, continuously variable automatic transmissions promote savings, even though they’re pretty unengaging to drive.  

Although manual transmissions are on their way out, some brands still offer chances to row your own gears. TrueCar put together a list of some of the best stick-shift models on sale today.

#1: Volkswagen Golf GTI

manual transmission
2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been an automotive icon for over four decades. Despite its enlarged size and modern tech, it has the same practical sportiness, as well as vintage plaid upholstery. The five-seater comes in four trim levels, all of which come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. With an optional six-speed manual, the 241 horsepower and 273 pounds-feet of torque sent to the front wheel wheels will make for a lively experience. The base Golf GTI S begins at $31,625 and is estimated to produce 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

#2: Honda Civic

A 2023 Honda Civic, which looks a lot like a 2022 Honda Civic, cruises urban streets.
Honda Civic | Honda

The long-lived Honda Civic has gotten much larger over the years, but it’s still driver-focused. There are at least seven trim levels, but the Si Sedan is the cheapest example one can step into a six-speed car. But for $28,500, potential buyers get a significant boost in power. Its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder puts down 200 horsepower and 192 pounds-feet of torque. But it will still deliver 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

#3: Acura Integra

The Acura Integra's looks are an apparent sibling for a 2023 Honda Civic as it corners on a mountain road.
Acura Integra A-Spec | Honda

Mechanically identical to the Civic, the Acura Integra is for the driver who wants a bit more luxury and pizazz in their compact. Unfortunately, the six-speed manual is only available on the most expensive trim level. The A-Spec Technology package makes the powerful and agile $37,495 Integra the priciest on the list. Fuel efficiency is just one less mpg than the Civic on which it’s based.

#4: Volkswagen Jetta

A Volkswagen Jetta and Jetta GLI on display in a warehouse.
The Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Volkswagen Media

Built on the same platform as the Golf, the Volkswagen Jetta offers even more practicality than the Golf. While it may not be as sporty of a pick, it provides a well-balanced, satisfying ride. The five-seater Jetta comes in five trim levels, the cheapest of which comes with a six-speed in the base S. For $21,760, potential buyers get a 1.5-liter turbo-four putting out 158 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque. The Jetta also offers the best fuel efficiency on the list, with 29 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway.

#5: Subaru WRX

manual transmission
2022 Subaru WRX | Subaru

Originating from the world of rallying, the Subaru WRX is packed with all-wheel drive, hefty horsepower, and customizable suspension settings. A six-speed manual transmission is available in the base WRX for $29,605. The 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine will churn out 271 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque. Yet, all that grip and grunt have a downside, as the WRX will get only 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.

Are manual transmission cars cheaper than automatics?

One would think that shifting your own gears would equate to a thousand or two off MSRP. However, that’s not always the case. For instance, the stick-shift Golf is $800 less than the automatic. Likewise, the manual WRX is $1,850 less than the automatic version.

Sometimes, though, potential buyers must often choose a few trim levels higher to get the stick shift. For instance, those looking for a Honda Civic must spend $3,500 over the base price to select a trim level available with a six-speed. Acura has the same issue. They only offer the Integra with a stick shift in the most expensive trim level.


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