From the headlines-we-never-expected-to-see file: "Stick shifts popular again..." Yes, we thought manual transmissions were on their deathbed, what with every carmaker bemoaning low take rates and reports that Volkswagen has decided to do away with them in both its Audi R8 sports car and throughout the range of Lamborghini models. But lo and behold, it seems that manuals accounted for 6.5 percent of new vehicle sales during the first quarter this year, the highest take rate since 2006, according to Edmunds.com numbers cited by USA Today.

This surge in popularity comes despite a 10-percent drop in the percentage of new models offering stick shifts in the past five years, according to the report. The change in consumer behavior has surprised some automakers, including Ford, who told the newspaper that demand for a manual in the Focus is nearly 10 percent, more than double the automaker's original forecast.

Of course before we get too excited – or give credit to the Car and Driver "Save the Manuals" campaign – let's keep in mind that a decade ago, when we first started to hear the groundswell against the manual from automakers, the take rate for manuals was still running above 8 percent. And we're still faced with an inevitable demographic shift as Millennials, born after automatic transmissions became dominant, grow up. The best we can hope for is to teach those willing to learn and hope to keep the manual tranny around as long as possible.


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  • 626 Comments
      A_Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I went 'auto' for a few years and recently went back to manuals due to boredom. 2012 6MT CR-Z and an 08 2.3l 5 spd manual. Automatics are only good for traffic - and honestly - if I have to drive an automatic in traffic...just gimme that autonomous mode, because traffic SUCKS.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A_Guy
        [blocked]
          A_Guy
          • 2 Years Ago
          Yes, yes I am. It's a one of a kind car though and I absolutely love it.
      arenadood
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good move, it is harder to text while driving if you have to shift gears.
      chuckhalper
      • 2 Years Ago
      A stick is also a great way to lessen the so called "driver distraction" problem on the highways today. It is hard to tweet, make phone calls, guzzle drinks and play with the entertainement system when you are actually engaged in the act of driving. A car, despite what is going on today with some brands, should not be an entertainment center for the dangerously uninvolved or marginally skilled driver. I'll stick with my manuals..I have nothing better to do behind the wheel.
      farsideopus
      • 2 Years Ago
      Upside to manual transmissions......no texting by mindless idiots while shifting gears.
      MechE
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always despised automatic transmissions. Whenever I'm checking out a car and see that tall plastic shifter with PRND gate I just can't help but think....LAME. Just the look of a proper manual shifter makes the interior look better, and that doesnt even scratch the surface of how much better the drive is. I will admit though, over the years automatics have gotten MUCH better. I hate to admit it but autos are now faster, smoother and more efficient than manuals. Consider yourself lucky if you dont have the manual transmission requirement when searching for a used car, its nearly impossible to find what you want in stick. Glad the old 3 and 4-speed automatics are a thing of the past. Simply adding an additional gear or two makes automatics much more pleasant and tolerable to drive.
      N68Firebird
      • 2 Years Ago
      Standard transmissions are SO MUCH CHEAPER TO REPLACE than automatic transmissions, plus you can jump a standard transmission vehicle if your battery goes dead.
        kamidaddy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @N68Firebird
        You can't jump start ANY car if the battery is completely DEAD. If the battery is WEAK and still has a bit of a charge, you might be able to roll the vehicle and "pop" the clutch to start it but that is not a very good reason to drive a stick shift car! Try maintaining your vehicle a little bit better...
          J
          • 2 Years Ago
          @kamidaddy
          You obviously are not a mechanic, as i am one i can tell you, yes you can still start the car if the batt is completely dead, assuming you still have a working alternator, which is what the car will run off for a short time until that gives out. How about you get your facts straight before critizing somone for how they take of their car. Good day
          J
          • 2 Years Ago
          @kamidaddy
          You obviously are not a mechanic, as i am one i can tell you, yes you can still start the car if the batt is completely dead, assuming you still have a working alternator, which is what the car will run off for a short time until that gives out. How about you get your facts straight before critizing somone for how they take of their car. Good day
        • 2 Years Ago
        @N68Firebird
        [blocked]
      Nicole
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another winning point for manual transmissions, car thieves don't know how to drive them. There have been reports of car thieves opening cars with manual transmissions and abandoning them for the easier to drive automatic cars.
      rastock
      • 2 Years Ago
      I remember when manual transmissions were standard and an automatic would set you back several hundred dollars as an option. On the bright side, if more folks used standard transmissions and manual windows, etc., it would be far more difficult to text and/or communicate via cell phone since you'd have to concentrate on (of all things) driving.
      kdcfoto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Last new car that I bought in 2009 was a manual trans. I love it and I'm 59 years old.
      ZenDriver
      • 2 Years Ago
      Glad to hear, but a ~1% uptick from last year is hardly an upshift, pardon the pun.
      fmeyer11
      • 2 Years Ago
      I will never buy a car that doesn't have a manual transmission, and none of that preposterous slap stick nonsense, it must have a clutch.
      Keith
      • 2 Years Ago
      I ordered my 2012 Honda Accord with a stick and absolutley love it and the 33MPG I get along with it.
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