Just don't answer. The question is neither relevant, nor is it even the crux of the column. Get past the clicky smelling headline, and what you have here is a combination of two news stories, one new and one old, both of which you've likely already come across.

We're going to play nice here and not knock over Salon columnist David Sirota's house of cards, because this is a good read and he's a talented writer – even if, off the top of our heads, we can name several popular vehicles that offer a fuel economy benefit to those willing to row their own, from the Volkswagen Jetta to the Chevrolet Sonic to the BMW 3 Series. But the guy does have a point that's probably of great benefit to many Salon readers: If a smug sense of superiority is what you're after, opting for a manual transmission is no longer a sure bet. (Locally sourced organic produce and craft beer, for the win!)

In the end, Sirota is smart enough to come to two conclusions that most of us would agree to. The first being that driving a manual is fun, and the second, that it's hard to text while steering, operating all three pedals, and working that stick.

On second thought, maybe you should answer with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. See below for our completely unscientific poll.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 197 Comments
      James
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually, a manual transmission driveline is a more efficient driveline, it's just most manual transmissions are equipped with a higher final drive gear because they assume you want a manual transmission for sporty reasons. If a manual transmission and and automatic transmission both featured identical gear ratios, the manual transmission, with it's non-fluid, direct coupling, offers better power transfer to the wheels per unit of fuel. In fact, I think, even with the difference in gear ratios, most manual drivers are capable of obtaining better fuel economy numbers in the real world anyway. For instance, in a manual vehicle if you lift off the throttle while the vehicle is in gear, the throttle body fully closes, while in an automatic the fluid-coupler decouples and the engine goes to idle, which is the least fuel efficient state of any engine. These little differences in driving habit are not measurable by EPA numbers. It wasn't but a few years ago that manuals were far and away the better fuel economy option. Now they've done a lot of work on automatics, because people buy them. The tides ebb and flow.
        James
        • 2 Years Ago
        @James
        Oh, and people micromanaging their lives based on a perceived environmental impact is absurd. The oil is being produced, someone is going to use it for something, it's too valuable a commodity to go unused. Whether you get 1 mpg on the highway better because you chose option A instead of B is meaningless. Did you know that the de-inking recycling process for paper produces a toxic, heavy metal sludge that cannot be disposed of safely? The world is better off if you burn your paper in your back yard than if you recycle it, at least then the carbon is going into the atmosphere and being inhaled by plants, and you're not producing a toxic sludge that gets buried under the ground. I suggest you stop worrying about it before you have an aneurysm burst.
      artso06
      • 2 Years Ago
      Never thought I would hear the word unethical linked to manual transmission. Sorry...no matter how well written, the word choice is just garbage.
      Seph
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes, it's unethical to drive Automatic.. Manual is more efficient, and more fun... If you're that really concerned about the environment and comfort, then drive a CVT... Please, don't... Just learn to love the manual...
      Donny Hoover
      • 2 Years Ago
      It isn't unethical. That's absurd. The type of car you drive has way more of an impact than the transmission that they put on it. If anything unethical is going on, it is the fact that we don't get the 70+ MPG diesel Smarts, Polos, Fiestas, etc. that they're selling in Europe. They get better fuel economy by leaps and bounds than anything we can buy here in the states, auto or manual. Plus they canned the VW Bluesport concept, which was the definition of fuel economy and driving enjoyment mixed. Cars have gotten so fat, so wasteful, so loaded up with luxuries over the years and this guy has the nerve to try and guilt trip people about their transmission choice? Really? Believe it or not, you can have both efficiency and fun. Let's work on that first before we even think about nitpicking.
        ksrcm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donny Hoover
        I wish I could upvote you more. You forgot where Mr. Smartypants is coming from. He strongly believes that his readers, together with Americans in general, have a natural and God-given right to have the cake AND eat it, too. I always said that, if BMW 760iL was priced at $35,000 you would suddenly learn that at least 100,000 people in U.S. have had ABSOLUTE NEED to have that car and will defend their right to fulfill that NEED with guns if necessary. It's kinda interesting that less than 5,000 of them find they need that car right now.
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ksrcm
          Yes, amazing how so many suburbanites all of a sudden have ABSOLUTE NEEDS for things that they were fine without only a few months before. And then they even consider it their right to have these things.
      Gorgenapper
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Is it ethical to post comment-generating articles with the intention to rile up the enthusiasts?"
      ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lol. Why being fuel efficient is "ethical" in the first place? If excess consumption is "wrong", then why we create new human beings in the first place? Should we ask if having babies are wrong too?
      Thill
      • 2 Years Ago
      With all the problems in the world (poverty, drugs, pedophiles, etc) we want to discuss whether a manual transmission is ethical? Seriously? Give me a break...
        ExtraButta
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Thill
        This is the only comment that made any sense. We are here arguing about the idea of whether a manual transmission is less ethical thatn an automatic? Really? Seriously? We live in a world of choice. You can choose to do whatever it is you like. No one does anything that can't be viewed as unethical in some way or some parts of this world. Personally, I will choose which every transmission comes with the car I am buying. If it so happens to have a manual; cool. An automatic; cool. No transmission; cool. It doesn't matter. Just drive.
      citidriver
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is unethical to ask that question, no wait, unintelligent. If you go through all the steps leading up to the purchase of a new car that gives you the choice if transmissions, does ethics come into play before that choice? Is it ethical to purchase a car with internet or phone capabilities, you know they kill. Is it ethical to but a car at all? Why am I wasting my time.
      porsche911gt3r
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is one of the dumbest articles I've read in a while, especially bringing ethics into a transmission debate. Manual transmissions are still more efficient in terms of drivetrain loses and weigh less. The reason why automatics have become more fuel efficient is because of gearing. Most manuals are six speeds whereas autos now sport seven and eight gears. Who cares anyways? This is America where you have freedom as choice. As long as mfgs make manual models, I will keep using the far left pedal.
      Stefan
      • 2 Years Ago
      What the heck is the point of this article. Slow day? Manual transmissions make sense. - force the driver to become more engaged in the driving process - harder to text/email - uneducated people (e.g., kids) can't just take off with a vehicle or run over their parents (it's happened) - better control in winter - cheaper to purchase out right - cheaper to maintain - subjectively, more enjoyment - operation prevents people physically unfit to drive from driving (e.g., old people) - possibly harder to drive drunk We should outlaw automatics altogether!
        Jesus!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stefan
        I had a 99 V6 Mustang standard. I could drive, shift, smoke a cig, and talk on the phone at one time. Was it smart? No. I was 19-20. But it's possible! And old people need to get around too. Are you going to drive them around?!
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jesus!
          Really old people KNOW how to drive manual; that is how they were brought up. And they did not have power steering or brakes or the other frou frou stuff. It's the mall generation from the 1980s and later who seem to be utterly clueless about transmissions. The millenials are just as bad.
          Stefan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jesus!
          ..that's public transit's job.
          Stefan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jesus!
          I mean physically unfit old, not uncoordinated old. There comes a time when a severe lack of physical fitness becomes a risk. I've seen it by way of the elderly smashing into others at stop lights, passing out, etc. It's unsafe for everyone especially them. MT might discourage this a bit, encouraging taxi or transit instead.
      da.kid1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gee, I don't know, is it wrong and inmoral to drive your own car and not let a computer do the work for you? Automatics are a big advance in technology and yes they're more efficient , but they also enable you to be lazy, text more, eat more inside the car, now doesn't that sound more "unethical" than being able to just simply control your machines?
      AlphaGnome
      • 2 Years Ago
      It saddens me to see that almost a quarter of people that responded to the poll think it's actually unethical to purchase a manual... On Autoblog of all places! Back when the manual transmission was the more fuel efficient transmission (and still is in most cases) , I don't recall ever seeing a report asking if it's unethical to purchase an automatic because of its dip in fuel ratings... Not only that, IF you go by the EPA's sticker numbers the decrease is minimal, 1 to 2 MPG at most! Funny thing about the EPA's numbers though... I've talked to many second gen Mazda 3 owners, and there is definitely a trend.. The row-your-own crowd is actually achieving higher real world MPG than the automatic crowd! Even though the Monroney suggest the automatic is the more fuel efficient choice!
        icon149
        • 2 Years Ago
        @AlphaGnome
        it's easier to adjust the computer controlled EFI and Automatic trans shift points to game the EPA tests. Its a lot harder with a manual trans. but real world is never the same as in the EPA tests, so like Alpha mentioned. if you drive em right, you almost always do better with a manual (all other things being equal).
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