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It’s been reported that about 18% of Americans know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. We will admit that rocking the stick shift can seem akin to speaking Latin at first. However, it gets easier over time. Regardless, plenty of newer cars equipped with an automatic transmission come with a manual mode so the gears can be shifted at the driver’s will. Here are some of the cheapest used cars that come with the shift-it-yourself mode.

What is “manual mode?”

The term “manual mode” refers to the manual-shifting mode where an automatic car can be driven like one with a manual transmission. There are two ways to shift the gears in these cars:

  • Manual mode gear shifting: The gear shifter can be moved over from “drive” to “M” or pushed up and down to upshift and down-shift the gears.
  • Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters: Mini paddles are mounted behind the steering wheel that allows the driver to shift up or down a gear.

Although a car’s manual mode doesn’t completely replace the genuine feeling or operation of driving a car with a manual transmission, it’s a good substitute for any drivers looking for a sportier driving experience.

1. Honda Fit

A 2013 Honda Fit Sport hatchback model in red, the Fit is available with both an automatic and manual transmission
2013 Honda Fit Sport | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

We recommend any generation of the Honda Fit as its roughly 100-hp engine and cavernous interior make it practical and fun to drive. Every Honda Fit came with either a manual or automatic transmission. And while we prefer the former, the automatic version isn’t too bad, considering it comes with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

2. Volkswagen GTI

A white 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI from the front
2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’re looking for more performance, the Volkswagen GTI is a great pick. In addition to the option for a six-speed manual transmission, every GTI had the option for a direct-shift gearbox, or DSG, automatic transmission. This system allowed for super-quick shifts with its dual-clutch system, which make shifting with the paddles a fun and precise experience.

3. Audi A3

A lime green 2023 Audi A3 Sedan driving down the road
2023 Audi A3 | Audi

The Audi A3 came equipped with the same turbocharged 2.0-liter engine as the Volkswagen GTI, which means that shifting in manual mode is a lot of fun. In fact, we suggest getting the automatic over the manual transmission in this car since the DSG can shift faster than any driver ever could.

4. Ford Focus

The Ford Focus came with a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as well. To operate in manual mode, the driver can shift into the “sport mode” on the gear shifter and utilize the paddle behind the steering wheel to shift the transmission manually.

5. Mazda3

The Mazda3 is a compact sedan that’s sportier and a little more fun to drive than its Honda and Toyota rivals. Even if you choose the automatic transmission, it’s still an engaging experience thanks to its manual mode.

6. Honda Civic

An old black Honda Civic
Black Honda Civic | via Getty Images

The Honda Civic was never meant to be sporty. However, if you pick one of the more recent models, you’ll get a turbocharged engine with a CVT. And although a CVT never really equates to fun, Honda did put in a manual mode. This allows to driver to shift between up to seven “gears,” making the car a little more engaging to drive.

7. Toyota Corolla

Like the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla is mainly a commuter car. It also comes with a CVT and a fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engine. However, putting the car into manual mode and shifting the gears can make it a bit more fun when driving.

Click over clutch

Although driving a car with manual mode may never be as fun as driving one with a manual transmission, it helps. For drivers that can’t operate a manual transmission, clicking the paddles behind the steering wheel can be almost as fun as operating a clutch. It’s a lot easier, anyway.