Toyota Dropped the Manual in 1 Important 2023 Model, Added the Option to Another

Manual transmissions are becoming more scarce as manufacturers move toward automatics for fuel economy. While the computer-controlled units are a welcome sight in many cars, their presence in others spoils the fun. When the fifth-generation Toyota Supra debuted in 2019, to enthusiasts’ chagrin, it didn’t come with three pedals and a stick shift. However, the 2023 A90 generation Supra is fortunately blessed with a manually-shifting unit, but where Toyota gives, Toyota must take away.

The 2023 Toyota GR Supra now has a stick shift

The 2023 Toyota GR Supra can be had with one of two engine configurations. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The larger, BMW-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder will put down 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. Yet, a manual transmission may only be fitted to one of them. Luckily, it’s the bigger engine.

The four-cylinder will still be paired with a paddled-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission. The 3.0-liter can be optioned with that unit, but many may want to revel in the new six-speed intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT). 

Developed by Toyota’s World Rally Championship team Gazoo Racing (GR), the new stick shift option is specifically engineered for the straight-six powerplant. Toyota says the unit is available on the 3.0 and 3.0 Premium trim levels, as well as the limited-run A91-MT Edition.

The six-speed iMT allows for rev-matched downshifts and has a setting to switch the mode off. Additionally, the unit features stall prevention and a smooth-shift mode to make manual driving easy for beginners. While Toyota has thoroughly pleased one section of its fan base by adding a manual, another will suffer. Unfortunately, the stick-shift option from its famed compact four-door is gone.

The 2023 Toyota Corolla loses its manual transmission option

Unless shoppers desire the high-performance GR version, the Toyota Corolla will no longer come with a manual transmission. Beginning with the 2023 model year, all versions of the Corolla will only feature continuously-variable transmissions (CVTs). There is no doubt that Toyota CVTs are great for fuel economy and smooth shifting in everyday traffic. However, the Japanese car manufacturer lauded the manual transmission in its compact offerings during the 2018 redesign year. So, why abandon the stick shift from the attractive and fun-to-drive Corolla?

According to The Drive, a Toyota spokesperson explained that just 1.7 percent of Corolla buyers opted for the six-speed manual. Therefore, Toyota accountants likely stepped in to recoup some production loss.

The death of the manual Corolla is disappointing, no doubt. There are fewer and fewer simple, lively, stick-shift small cars for enthusiasts to enjoy without shelling out big bucks. For example, the manual Toyota Corolla was just a hair over $20,000. The manual Toyota Supra, on the other hand, begins at over $52,000.

Are there any small, less expensive manual transmission cars left?

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The loss of Toyota’s manually-shifting compact doesn’t mean shoppers don’t have the option for row gears. For instance, the Honda Civic, Kia Forte GT, Mazda 3, and Volkswagen Jetta have stick shift options—all for under $30,000. For those wanting to spend less, a five-speed Chevrolet Spark is under $20,000.

The loss of manual transmissions in smaller cars signifies that companies are moving with the times. To enhance fuel economy and driver assistance, automatics are taking their place in nearly all segments. Although the manual-shifting Corolla will be missed, the Supra is now more of the car it should have been.