5 Compact Cars With Manual Transmissions Recommended by Consumer Reports

Stick shifts are getting harder to come by nowadays. However, there are still a handful of automakers catering to those wanting the excitement of controlling their gear shifts despite the fading number of vehicles offering a manual transmission. Which models are still sporting a manual gearbox? Here are five models to check out.

1. Honda Civic with a manual transmission

The Civic continues to offer the manual gearbox, but it limits the trims you can choose. The sportier ones, like the Civic SI sedan, are the only models with a manual gearbox. According to Consumer Reports, the Civic SI offers a turbocharged engine producing 200 hp. It works alongside a six-speed manual transmission. However, this version doesn’t bring as much power as the Type R hatchback. 

The Type R, also sporting a six-speed stick shift, comes with a similar price tag as the SI version. Both come at $27,300, but they might go for more now that dealers are marking up many new vehicles due to shortage problems. 

2. Hyundai Elantra

According to Car and Driver, the Elantra has two models you can get with a manual gearbox: the Elantra N and the N-Line version, starting at $26,000. Both come with a six-speed stick shift, but the N-Line has a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder that produces 201 hp. The N model has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and generates 276 hp. 

If you choose the N model, you can expect to pay close to $33,000, but you’ll get some decent racing features for a compact sedan. Some include 14-inch rotors, optimized dust covers, and fade-resistant brakes. 

3. Mazda3 with a manual transmission

A sky blue 2022 Mazda3, with a possible manual transmission, parked in a slightly lit environment.
2022 Mazda3 | Mazda North American Operations

The base model of the Mazda3 starts at $20,800 for the compact sedan. If you want a stick-shift, you must choose the hatchback version. However, only one trim level will get you the manual: the 2.5 S Premium Package. Mazda pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine generating 186 hp with the stick shift.

Also, only the FWD model will offer it. The all-wheel-drivetrain comes with just the automatic transmission. It doesn’t offer a manual gearbox. It starts at $28,350, and you will get a six-speed manual. 

4. Subaru Impreza

The Impreza is one of the few that give you some options when it comes to driving a stick shift. With the sedan, you can choose a five-speed manual transmission with the base model, but that’s the only trim it’s offered with. If you purchase a hatchback, you can get it with the base model and on the higher level sport trims. 

According to Consumer Reports, for $19,295, the base gets you a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. While not a powerhouse, it still packs enough punch to make the inexpensive price worthwhile. However, one downside to it is that you don’t get much in the interior space. It’s pretty minimal and offers mediocre comfort.

5. Volkswagen Jetta with a manual transmission


Is a Manual Transmission More Reliable?

The Jetta offers a six-speed manual in its S and Sport trims. Paired with it is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 158 hp. If you opt for the Jetta GLI, you’ll get the manual stick shift and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four that will generate 228 hp instead. 

Regarding price, the GLI model starts at $30,995, which is a sweet deal since this is one of the most luxurious models in its category. It comes with adaptive dampers, heated and ventilated seats, leather upholstery, and wireless charging, to name just a few features. 

There are still a few more models sporting manual stick shifts, but these five are some of the best. Each offers plenty of other features to make your purchase worthwhile.