5 of the Best Manual Transmission Cars Under $5,000

Driving a car with a manual transmission is a fun experience. However, many drivers won’t get to experience that thrill as many manual transmission cars are slowly being phased out. Fortunately, for drivers that like to rock the stick and don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are a few cars in the used market with manual transmissions for less than $5,000. Here are five examples.

1. First-Generation Honda Insight

Honda Insight
Honda Insight | TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images

The first-generation Honda Insight, made from 2000 to 2006, may seem like an odd recommendation, but hear us out. The original Insight wasn’t exactly a super fun sports car. Instead, it was a two-seat hybrid that could get around 60 mpg using a 71-hp drivetrain and a super-lightweight chassis.

Best of all, it was also offered with a manual transmission, which made it a tad bit more fun to drive. But again, the name of its game was gas mileage, so don’t expect Civic Si-like performance from one of these.

2. Honda Civic

A couple of 2006 Honda Civics
A couple of 2006 Honda Civics | Larry W. Smith/Bloomberg News

The Honda Civic has been a staple in the automotive market for over 40 years, and it gets better with every generation. However, if you’re looking for one below the $5,000 price point, you’ll have to stick with Civics from the early 2000s and late 90s. That’s OK, though, because the Civic’s superior reliability means that if you find a clean one, it’ll last you a long time.

There are plenty of automatic transmission-equipped models, but there are some manual transmission models that can be found as well. You may have to search a little harder for them.

3. Subaru Baja

2006 Subaru Baja
2006 Subaru Baja | Wikimedia Commons

The Subaru Baja is a quirky option, but at least it’s somewhat practical. The Baja was essentially a Subaru Outback wagon with a small truck bed, making it a good tiny hauler. There was also a Baja Turbo trim level, which used a detuned version of the WRX STI’s turbocharged 2.5-liter engine. But don’t get your hopes up for finding one of those for less than $5,000. However, you can find non-turbo models selling in that price range nationwide.

4. Volvo S70

Volvo S70
Volvo S70 | Wikimedia Commons

The Volvo S70 is one of the safest cars you can buy with a manual transmission. It’s also very well-built. Even on the older models from the late 90s, you’ll find soft materials on the dashboard and door panels. There are also side airbags and safer seats that mitigate whiplash. Car and Driver also notes that since the Volvo S70 is a Swedish car, you can bet that it has a really good heater as well. Considering all of the safety you can get with the S70, in addition to a manual transmission, it’s a great buy for $5,000.

5. Toyota Camry

Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry | STAN HONDA / AFP

Although the Toyota Camry was never built for fun, it’s relatively enjoyable when equipped with a manual transmission. That’s right, some of the Camrys built in the early 2000s up to around 2011 came with a stick shift. As you can imagine, just because you can shift your own gears, it doesn’t mean it drives like a sports car.

But everyone knows that the Camry is one of the most dead-on reliable cars you can buy, so it’s definitely worth paying $5,000 for one – even if it has a lot of miles. Of course, the manual transmission helps as well.

Five cars with manual transmissions for less than $5,000

The manual transmission may be getting phased out in newer cars, but you can still find a stick shift in a lot of the older ones. There are plenty of great deals out there, but you’ll have to check Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace daily to find them. But if you do, there’s almost nothing better than finding a manual-transmission car for less than $5,000.

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