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First, they called it a standard. Then, it became an option. Now, it’s nearly non-existent. The manual transmission is dying off in the mainstream, and the 2021 Honda Accord is the latest to put a nail in its coffin.

The Honda Accord got a mid-cycle refresh for the 2021 model year. While this update included a host of welcome changes, it also brought with it a significant sacrifice.

Absent in Honda’s press release about the 2021 Accord was any mention of a manual transmission, which was optional on previous model years. This exclusion won’t upset the average Accord driver, but it will likely leave a bitter taste in the mouth of purists.

What’s under the hood of the 2021 Honda Accord

A 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid driving down a city street
A 2021 Honda Accord in action | Photo via Honda

Drivers of the 2021 Honda Accord won’t have the same hands-on experience offered by the past models. However, there’s still a lot to love about what it provides.

The standard powertrain consists of a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a CVT transmission. This powerplant delivers 192 hp and achieves an EPA-estimated 33 MPG city/highway combined. 

Meanwhile, Accord Sport 2.0T and Touring models get an upgrade. These trim levels feature a sporty 252-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, drivers can expect to get 26 MPG city/highway combined with this setup.

Finally, the 2021 Honda Accord offers several hybrid models, starting at an affordable MSRP of $26,370. The Accord Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an AC synchronous permanent-magnet electric motor. Together, these systems combine for an output of 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque. Most hybrid trims get an EPA-estimated 48 MPG city/highway combined, but the Hybrid Touring model dips to 43 MPG.

Which vehicles still offer a manual transmission in 2021?

Unfortunately, the Honda Accord was the last midsize sedan to fade out the manual transmission. However, drivers who want a stick shift still have options.

According to MotorTrend, 17 new vehicles still offer a manual transmission for the 2021 model year. Those willing to drop down to the compact car class can experience hands-on driving in the Honda Civic, Hyundai Veloster, Kia Forte, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, and Toyota Corolla (or Corolla Hatchback). 

Subcompact car options include the Chevy Spark, Hyundai Accent, and Mini Cooper. Other entries include the Ford Bronco, Ford Mustang, Genesis G70, Kia Soul, Mini Clubman, Porsche 718 Boxer and Cayman, Porsche 911, and Subaru Crosstrek.

However, obtaining one of these models can sometimes prove difficult, as evidenced by the limited availability of the Mazda3’s manual transmission. Stick shifts are typically reserved for only certain trims, making them rare to find on dealer lots.

A fond farewell to the manual transmission


Civic or Accord: Which Honda Is Better for You?

The 2021 Honda Accord ushers in a new era of midsize sedans sans manual transmission. While the nostalgia attached to the more rudimentary art of driving a stick-shift vehicle may now be a thing of the past, we can now look to the future of higher speed automatics and CVTs. 

Those committed to staying true to their purist roots can still purchase a 2020 Honda Accord or earlier model years. However, buyers must consider what they are giving up in terms of the 20201 Accord’s latest upgrades, including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and improved LED headlights.