Are Stick-Shifts On Their Way Out?

You’ve almost certainly been in a vehicle with a manual transmission, even if you haven’t owned one, or driven one. For a long time, manual transmissions were what most people drove. An automatic transmission was a luxury that not everyone could afford – or wanted, really. Yet now the automatic transmission has become standard, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find cars with manual transmissions. Are stick shifts on their way out? Or are they just taking a break, and will surge again in popularity in the future?

The inside of a car with a manual transmission.
A car with a stick shift | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

Automatic transmissions have become better

Automatic transmissions have undergone many transformations since their inception. While they used to be a way for a driver to get a sort of break from driving, they became more and more commonplace until they were the standard. 

Similarly, electric cars have a single-speed transmission, and don’t require a multi-gear transmission the way that fuel-powered vehicles do. While electric vehicles may not make up the majority of car sales right now, they’re gaining in popularity, and there will likely be even less of a need to decide between a stick shift and an automatic transmission.

People who really love cars tend to love manual transmissions

According to CNBC, these days you can typically find a manual transmission in two types of cars: really cheap cars, and performance models. Even those performance models don’t generally come with a stick shift automatically. Car makers set aside a certain amount of their vehicles for those “purists” who only want a manual transmission. 

Yet if you’ll be driving your car every day, commuting to work, going to the grocery store, and such, the labor involved with driving a stick shift can become tiring. Sure, it isn’t difficult to drive a stick shift once you know how, but it certainly can be tiring. For this reason, even manual transmission purists sometimes prefer to choose an automatic transmission for their everyday car. 

There are still some cars you can get with a manual transmission

If you still have your heart set on a manual transmission, you do have options. For example, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 comes with a manual transmission – in fact, it only comes with a stick shift. Ford also offers the Bronco with a manual transmission. 

You could get a Toyota Corolla with a stick shift if you’re so inclined, or a Tacoma. According to Cars.com, Toyota skipped the 2021 GR86 and gave it an automatic transmission only, though it will be bringing back the manual transmission in 2022. 

If you’re looking for a high-end manual transmission car, you have some choices. You could get the Aston Martin Vantage, or a BMW M3 or M4. The Genesis GV70 comes with a manual transmission option, as does the Porsche 911. 

If despite the convenience and technological advancements of modern automatic transmission vehicles you still want a stick shift, you have choices. With a variety of car manufacturers still producing manual transmissions at varying price points, it’s likely that you can find something you want with the ability to shift gears.

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