Who Still Wants a Stick?

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You might think manual transmissions are unwanted, given that few new cars – including a number of high-performance cars, such as the new Corvette – even offer them.

Isn’t that a reflection of the market?

It’s more a reflection of the government – which has, in its usual oily way, imposed a de facto ban on manual transmission by imposing regulations that are harder to comply with if a given car hasn’t got an automatic (and increasingly, a CVT automatic) transmission. Readers of this column already know why that is, but for those not yet hip:

Manuals – being controlled by the driver – cannot be programmed to shift through the gears in a way best matched to passing the tests that grade compliance with government regulations, especially those having to do with mandatory MPG minimums. This is why – if you’ve driven a new or new-ish car with an automatic – you may have noticed the transmission tries to upshift to the next-highest gear sooner than you probably would have if you were controlling the shifts via a manual gearbox. It is why the latest/newest automatics have eight, nine and even ten speeds. The last several of these being “stepped” overdrive gears that are there to cut engine revs as much (and as soon) as possible, so as to eke out an extra 2-3 MPGs on the government’s “fuel efficiency” tests.

On paper.

Out in the real world, those gains are often lost – because out in the real world, upshifting too soon and too deep (into overdrive) results in sluggish acceleration and drivers will compensate for that by pushing down harder on the accelerator pedal, forcing a downshift. This of course results in more fuel being used.

But hey, the car advertises higher gas mileage!

And – of course – the car company has made the government happy.

But manuals still make more people than you might expect happy. The problem is finding a new car that still offers one.

One of the few that still does – for now – is Subaru’s Crosstrek, which is the only Subaru other than the high-performance WRX and BRZ sports car that still does offer it. And – lookee here! – the sales of Crosstreks are through the roof. They are up almost 40 percent. A record, for Subaru.

Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that the Crosstrek is the last practical car that Subaru offers with a manual? That it costs less with the manual than with the optional (and CVT) automatic?

Once-upon-a-time, around a decade ago, you could save money by not opting for the then-optional automatic. Manual-equipped versions of a given vehicle typically cost about $1,000-$1,500 less than the same thing with an automatic. They also saved you money over the duration of ownership, too – especially if you kept the car for the duration of its lifetime, say 15-20 years or so. During that time, you might perhaps have to pay for a clutch replacement – but the cost of that is about a fourth what it costs to replace a modern, electronically controlled automatic transmission when it fails.

And the newer automatics – with eight, nine and event ten speeds – and especially CVT automatics – tend to not last the lifetime of the vehicle. (A family member recently had to replace the automatic in an older Lexus RX; it cost her $5,000.  This is pretty typical. The cost to replace a clutch typically runs $800-$1,200 or so.)

Plus, they also save gas – even if the test doesn’t say so.

Properly driven, a car with a manual will usually at least match – if not exceed – the mileage numbers advertised by the same car with an automatic. If the driver – the variable – knows how (and when) to shift. The manual, itself, is inherently more efficient because it is a direct manual interface between the spinning crankshaft inside the engine (that spins the flywheel at the back of the engine) and the spinning wheels. With an automatic, some of the engine’s power is lost-in-transmission, through the fluid coupling (the torque converter) that allows the automatic to be kept in Drive when the car isn’t moving.

This slippage (through the converter) continues as the car begins to move. Once it has reached light-load/cruising speed, the torque converter “locks up” (via a clutch-type mechanism) and a mechanical connection is established. But there is nevertheless some slippage and that results in an efficiency loss. This can be made up for – on paper – by programming the automatic to upshift as soon as possible – and as often as possible.

But out in the real world . . .

There is another factor that may be driving up sales of the Crosstrek with the manual. It is that manual-equipped versions of this small Soobie wagon do not have the “advanced driver assistance technologies” (e.g., Subaru’s EyeSight system) that are standard equipment with automatic-equipped versions of the Crosstrek.

Could it be that people have heard – and that they also know that 2023 is the last year Subaru will offer a manual in the Crosstrek? And are getting while the getting’s good?

It would be interesting to see what the market would have to say about all this.

And we could find out – were it not for all this government distorting what the market wants.

. . .

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65 COMMENTS

  1. A couple of months ago, Eric floated the possibility that the 2023 BMW Z4 might get a manual trans like its sister vehicle the Toyota Supra. But BMW wimped out:

    ‘If we were granted a wish, [the Z4] would include a manual transmission on the glorious straight-six like the Supra now offers.’ — Car and Driver, Sep 27, 2022

    https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a41389630/2023-bmw-z4-updates-specs/

    Too bad — I’d love to have that silky 3-liter straight six in a convertible body. But automatic-only makes the Z4 a hard negative.

    I don’t need no stinkin’ slushbox.

  2. “Who Still Wants a Stick?”… I certainly do! I still have my 1997 Camaro Z28 and 2004 Civic 2-door, both with stick. I always seek out the manual versions of any used car when such exists, even though they are certainly harder to find. The control, and $$ savings (especially considering how much it costs to replace a clutch vs. an auto) are clearly worth it

    • I also seek out manuals. Yes you can find them but more than likely it’s stuck in the lowest trim level so you’re missing out on things like leather or other goodies.

  3. Made myself get a manual on my second vehicle just so I’d learn to drive stick.

    Kept it over 15 years, but found no one else in my family cared to learn to drive stick.

    Also, despite what people claim here, they are a PITA in stop-and-go, urban traffic.

    Much more fun if you live a rural area.

    Doubt I’ll ever buy a vehicle with a stick again.

  4. Having owned them all:
    A non-synchro manual (crashbox) is the ultimate driver’s car (or truck).
    A three-speed manual has too much gap between the gears.
    A four-speed manual usually has too much gap between second and third.
    A five or six-speed manual has too many gears and is a PITA, especially in traffic.
    At 74, all my cars are automatics now. I miss the crashbox.

  5. This new car I have is the first automatic transmission vehicle I have in nearly 20 years. I have had the car six months, and I am STILL fishing for the clutch pedal, and automatically wanting to “down shift” when I slow down. You are right, Eric, in that manual transmission vehicles are nearly impossible to find these days. I prefer it over the automatics. We have nine months of Winter in these parts, and I find it easier to control my semi-retired, manual trans car in the Winter, with the slowing down on the snow, icy roads and such. And yes, being able to control when I shift the engine up and down (if that makes sense). This new vehicle I have has a “standard mode”, with the shift flaps behind the steering wheel. It will be interesting to see how this works this upcoming Winter. I am sure big brother will kick in if it “thinks” I did not upshift (or down shift) soon enough for its tastes. At this point, I laugh my head off when the rear view camera pitches a fit about it being dirty. Just wait until there is too much snow covering it, then it will really have something to bitch about-bwa ha ha.

  6. Interestingly – here in the UK the Mustang, 911s, toyota supra, and other sports cars, though more expensive to buy in auto, in the second hand market are more expensive with the manual!!
    I don’t know if thats because autos are more common, as most people who get these cars new do so as a statement more than drive (911s specifically by older say company directors) and tend to buy on a 4 year PCP finance deal. Then the real drivers start coming in second / third hand, at which point there are many autos, but hardly any manuals on the market!

    • Hi Nasir!

      THat dovetails with ere. The manual versions of any collectible car are always more desirable/valuable. I suspect it is becaue they are more . . . desirable! As an example my old ’76 Trans-Am (not the current one) would have been worth something like $50k-plus today because it was a factory four speed car (it was also a 455 car and a black and gold SE). All I have left of it is the scoop, alas….

  7. EV’s are horrible, no stick shift….

    Toyota has pushed back against fully electric cars for years, as it believes car shoppers don’t really want them.

    The globalist/communists are going to ban all ice cars, worldwide, replacing them with EV’s

    This is a big problem because some 1 billion people simply don’t have reliable access to electricity. This is a racist policy because it is not inclusive.

    Who benefits the most from the EV vehicle conversion and the ESG program? china does.

    japan does very well selling ice cars, china doesn’t, but is ahead in EV’s and EV components and batteries, so it wants to push EV’s, ban ice cars.

    japanese are the ultimate car freaks, (they just bought Caterham), don’t want to lose their ice cars to the chinese backed EV junk, collector car people may have to move to japan…lol

    Around the world the fake CO2, global warming bs narrative is being used to push EV’s, china spreads this bs narrative……china has a lot of influence in your government

    Anybody pushing EV’s, solar panels or wind turbines and the ESG is a paid ccp shill.

    Every EV is a chinese EV, 80% of all the key parts and the battery come from china, same as solar panels or wind turbines …low quality, they all catch fire.

    All the most important components in the new EV’s are all made in china.
    80% of the lithium fire bomb batteries in EV’s are made in china.

    These lithium fire bomb batteries are very dangerous, these EV’s shouldn’t be allowed on the road…lol….but …..china has a lot of influence in your government so they are given a pass.

    Then you are dependent on china for replacement parts, etc., in effect they take over the whole vehicle supply chain. Vehicle production then centralized in China.

    the chinese are taking over the electric car market, they are starting to export their EV’s worldwide.

    the chinese make most of the chips, maybe the shortage was to help their EV launch….lots of their cars coming here soon

    china…..it is where most rare earths are processed; and most of the mineral supply-chains for electric vehicles lead there, with existing supply sewn up.

    With more EV’s the grid has to be upgraded, most of the equipment for expanding the grid is made in china.
    The largest beneficiaries are the Chinese manufacturers of electric transformers, cables, generators, etc. since almost none of that stuff is made anywhere else anymore.

    If there is a war and china detonates a neutron bomb that takes out the grid, they get to supply all the replacement equipment, another win for them.

    What about all the vaccines and drugs the government has been pushing, all the ingredients for all vaccines and drugs come from china, they benefited the most from the bat germ bs narrative. japan quit, just walked away from that narrative too….

    https://carnewschina.com/2022/04/18/chinese-electric-vehicles-are-on-fire/?fbclid=IwAR3B66QpVwTNXfJEYyuBajbdYOkFwSbQz9s5kFJleVy9Cpc5un__hAyRs0I

    • Read something similar here: https://s3mag.com/toyota-stands-up-to-ev-pressure/

      If you told me 10 years ago I’d wanna new toyota as a sports car or pickup, I’d ask what kinda drugs you were on. Now, if my projects take off, it’s just a matter of which one.

      I believe this Globalist Green push will fall flat in a few years, enough people are waking up and don’t want EV’s only, no matter what the globalists want for us. This time though, it won’t stick, and the companies that didn’t automatically fall in line will do better than those who sold out and got on there hands and knees

  8. Learned to drive back in 1974, when I was fourteen, in my dad’s ’59 Chevy Apache pickup with a loose, wobbly, extremely-vague three on the tree. Having had my left leg amputated late last year thanks to diabetes, I’m definitely all done with the stick.

      • Thanks, Eric. Lord yeah, I did! My dad bought that old Apache (known among my friends as the Poohawk) from an uncle of mine, who was extremely reluctant to sell to him, knowing as he did that my dad was a dyed-in-the-wool Ford man. As am I even today; I’ve spent my whole life running old beater-classic Fords, from my two beloved ’56 Fairlanes, to a ’61 Galaxy, to…well, suffice to say there’s been several of them, and I’ve loved them all.

        I really do miss the days when whether you were a First On Race Day man or a Bowtie fan or a Mopar weirdo actually mattered at all. Those old, now-forgotten rivalries were the wellspring of a whole lot of good-natured fun amongst us gearheads back in the day.

    • Oh shit, sorry to hear that!

      Same name (First, not last), same disease (T1 though), how’d ya wind up losing the leg though??

      At least you’re still here with us

      • Surgery after having taken a fall at home, then rushed to the hospital when my roomate found me lying there unable to get back up again, back last December. Had nine surgeries in two days, or so they tell me; I have no recollection of it whatsoever myself, wound up losing about two-three months in a haze of blessed painkilling drugs and general delirium. The docs kept cutting higher and higher up the leg until they finally found some circulation above the left knee, and then took the big toe on my right foot as well for good measure, which was also showing signs of poor-to-no circulation.

        And trust me, those phantom pains are no joke. But perhaps even worse is the sensation I get on occasion that THE LEG AND FOOT ARE STILL THERE. I can be sitting around doing nothing when all of a sudden, I can feel myself tapping my left toes on the floor in rhythm to song on the radio. And I would SWEAR that it was real. Talk about weird.

  9. A few things here:

    A bolt holding my S10’s starter in place sheered off somehow. Still not sure how I’m going to get the old bolt out. Also, they put the exhaust pipe in the way, so I have to move that to do the work, most likely. Huge pain in the ass.

    BUT! All is not lost if I have to start the thing, because push starts are still an option. That alone makes manual transmissions worth it.

    Also, I’ve always heard you’re not supposed to put an automatic in neutral while you roll down hill. No such problem for a manual, which, I believe, saves you decently on fuel consumption on downhill trips.

    Lastly, my dad wants to change the fluid on his Nissan Cube’s CVT. He says they’ve made it difficult, and has devised a strategy for doing so. But do they even want you to change the fluid, or do they just figure the band will wear out before you’d need a fluid change, and then they’d rebuild the thing? Anyone want to offer their 2 cents before I go do research?

    (Yes, instead of doing research, I read an EP Autos article.)

    • BadOn,
      On my old 300K mile Econoline, I had one bolt and a C-clamp holding the starter in! (Supposed to be 3 bolts). Held fine for several years and was still going strong when I sold it.

    • Morning, BaDnOn!

      On the automatic: You might be able to suck (using a pump) most of the fluid out via the filler tube, assuming it has one. If not, then perhaps via the cooler lines that feed into the in-tank (radiator) tranny cooler (again, assuming it has one). This assumes the tranny – not Bruce! – hasn’t got a removeable pan. If it does, I’d go that route. I regard it as criminal that the automakers have made it so difficult to change out tranny fluid and that they tell people it’s “lifetime” and never needs to be done. Yeah. Only if you don’t mind “lifetime” meaning say 100,000 miles or so. Maybe less.

  10. I’ve been driving manuals for almost 40 years. My kid passed her road test at age 16 with one. She still won’t drive anything else almost 20 years later. My present daily beater car is a Ford Focus with a manual and 190,000 on the original clutch. They will last if you know how to drive them.

    I haven’t had an automatic in 21 years. Unfortunately my next new truck will be an automatic, I have no choice. I currently own the last year Ford produced a manual F-150… 2008.

    • Hi X,

      Every truck I’ve owned has been manual, including my current ’02 Frontier (original clutch). But I may need to deal with finding an older 1500 if I intend to do this travel trailer deal. My truck being too small and under-engined to realistically handle even a small (5,000 lb.) trailer. My thoughts lean toward finding an ’80s or older 1500 (prolly a Chevy) with a small block and a four or five speed. Problem is these things are now practically worth their weight in gold…

      • Thing to do is probably to find one cheap with a solid body that you know needs work and put a crate motor into it (or build it yourself) and go through it end-to-end — seals, ball joints, hoses etc. Parts for those are cheap.

        Better than trusting an original one of that vintage to tow with.

  11. Snowmobiles were the original CVT machines, a variable clutch/pulley.

    Interesting enough, if you do a search for CVT in snowmobiles, one result, is a CVT good in snow and the answer is no.

    You have to have a track, not tires, to get through snow.

    Or pump water for a jet ski.

    There is a good video on YT on how CVTs work.

    Got stung by a bee on the back of my neck, the welt is about an inch wide and a couple of inches long. All of a sudden, even though I tried to swipe the bee away, I was stung.

    A tiny little animal can make you miserable and you suffer even more.

  12. Who wants a stick? I do! My last Mustang had one and I miss it. So much more responsive and fun to drive.
    I think if they want kids to stop staring at their phones when they drive, auto trans should be banned. With a stick and clutch, you have to actually pay attention to your car. You can’t just sit there behind the wheel, occasionally glancing at traffic, while the car autopilots you down the road. The car must be engaged and hopefully, that engagement extends toward actually watching the road and the other drivers since that’s all you have to do now that you can’t entertain yourself with a phone. A manual takes two hands to drive, no hand left for the phone. I could barely hold on to my cigarette. (Quit 10 years ago … miss that, too)

  13. Who Still Wants a Stick?…….I do…60 yrs old and I do not own any automatic cars or trucks….Oh and by the way FU Subaru….guess I will keep my fleet of old Subies and my Ranger FX4 going as long as I can push the clutch pedal.

        • Of all the SN’s I’ve chosen, this one stuck with me the longest.

          See 2 posts below, my two cars, the Audi which has been sold and the bronco which is still around (Also a long video on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSesh7vYWzQ). Aftermarket’s coming around, so won’t be long before there’s the parts I want for her too.

          I don’t get my friends who claim they wanna manual as a toy car but an auto as a Daily, where are they going that they need two cars? Once ya learn, that’s it, and I’ve taken my Audi and my Bronco through the 5 boroughs, got stuck in infamous NYC traffic before, and even then, it never lasts forever, so it’s not like you’d be stuck like that for ages.

          Ya learn stick, and it changes your life. I learned it after my salesman friend taught me on a ’10 GT and a few other Fords, and I remember looking at Dads weekend toy turned my daily (Boxster S) and thinking I’d rather be driving one of those 90s Civic Hatches. Never got a Civic, but look at me now, two manuals that I’ve put tons of miles on

      • I’m 75 and not one of my 3 cars or 2 vans has an Automatic. In fact, when I ordered my last vehicle in 2018, a 6 Speed Gearbox with the Twin Turbo Diesel was only offered in a Panel Van so I ordered it rather than the pop-top Camper Version which I really wanted.

  14. Don’t forget Tacoma’s also come in stick, since some people need an inexpensive truck that isn’t gonna be yuge, and for those who got more to spend, the Gladiator.

    Other than those two, Bronco and Wrangler for those who wanna go further offroad, and while it’s shrinking, still a handful of sports/sporty cars that still offer stick, like the Toyobaru’s, the Supra and Z, current and next gen Mustang, Miata’s, etc.

    You have to custom order a lot of this, but that should send a message to the Manufacturer that the future isn’t solely auto

  15. Wow, I just checked and there are actually 3 base model Crosstreks with manual transmission in my area – amazing! Availability certainly must be a factor in their strong sales.

  16. All I drive from this point on is stick: https://www.mfcomics.net/post/ashley-the-gypsy, my previous car was also manual: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFnkeNe7gK8 (Yeah, I sound terrible in video, I know)

    I’ll be damned to drive another automatic, and fortunately, all the vehicles I want from this point on still offer stick, and there’s always the used market.

    Unless they go door to door with a crusher and give you cash for “your clunker”, there’s no way in hell they’re removing all these cars, so even if I gotta start DIYing everything, so be it!

    It’ll be a year in a month for my Bronco, already got basically 20,6xx on her, and it’ll keep going up. To paraphrase a line from a spoof ya never seen, “I’m the driver driving the car that does the driving” (It’s not the car you drive. It’s the driver who’s driving the car that’s doing the driving.)

  17. I imagine it’s tougher to control a manual than and automatic. E.g. they don’t work with automatic start/stop. Even cruise control acts differently. It’s also probably harder to override the computer controls such as drive by wire, etc. That, of course, makes it harder for our overlords to implement 5g driverless autopilot regimen via SkyNet.

    • Oh, they make stop-start work just “fine” on manuals. It loved how asinine it was having that and an eco-pro mode on my M bimmers..

  18. I think it likely that the real reason sticks are being de facto outlawed is likely because they were about the only component remaining on modern vehicles that is durable/bulletproof. No electronic doo-dads or plastic garbage to grenade and render your vehicle undriveable sans a several-thousand-dollar repair.

    As a purely mechanical component, if/when it does fail, it could be swapped out with a used one, -used ones still be perfectly functional, as there is nothing to degrade over time or with exposure to the moisture in the air; and nothing that required interaction with your car’s electronic leash (computer) which would need to be synced by VIN or require dealer-level reprogramming.

    It was was economic freedom, seeing as it would last so much longer than an automatic, and thus mean that you wouldn’t have to worry about the tranny taking a crap on a 10 or 20 year-old used car if it was working fine when you bought it. It was freedom in that it allowed the driver to be in complete control, and to be able to choose when to shift; what gear to use; when to disengage the driveline from the injun……..

    And of course…it puts the kibosh on all of the “safety” assists and MPG save-a-tenth-of-a-mile-per-gallon schemes that are built into these modern cellphones-on-wheels.

    tl;dr: It was freedom- economically and as a driver. Of course, they can’t allow that the land of woke baseball and crapple pie!

    Do they even make farm tractors anymore with a gear transmission? Seems like most of those even have gone to hydrostatic trannies! (And why not? -in tractors which now require DEF and are as computer/software reliant as cars!

  19. Didn’t the Supreme Court just rule that the EPA could not create it’s own laws/regs? If that is the case, then why do we still have CAFE around?
    Maybe because the whole scam is not about mpg (it isn’t) and more about limiting competition.

    • Current Regime ignores them, hopefully whoever comes in in ’24, be it Orange Man, Heavy D or someone on the new right, listens to the courts and removes that crap, period

  20. I love manuals. Have had one since I started driving. It’s a pleasure to drive. You are more in control of the vehicle with one. An automatic is just boring.

  21. I know little about how a CVT works. Standard issue automatics, like those in use for the last decade or two, have problems the maker refuses to acknowledge in most cases. I once bought a used Audi A6 with less than 100k on it, automatic, that didn’t shift properly. Got out the manual, which said no need to check fluid level, or ever change it, because the AT was sealed. Well, I dropped the pan on it, and what came out was more akin to chassis lube than oil. After a very expensive proprietary fluid change, it did better. Possibly even getting close to normal, if one were willing to spend a couple hundred dollars each for MORE fluid changes. This notion of not needing to ever change transmission fluid is apparently par for the makers. A lesson learned. If you are buying a used AT car, insist the AT fluid be changed. If there is a problem they are typically required by law to inform you. Conventional ATs need their fluid changed AT LEAST as often as MT gear oil needs changing, about 50k in most cases. AT LEAST!

    • I usually do ATF about every 40k, but for transmissions that are just starting to have issues I’ll go every 20-25k to see if that will flush the problem out. If the transmission is too far gone I’ve heard sometimes the dirty oil is all that keeps it from slipping g so don’t change it. No personal experience there.

      MTF my default is 80-100k miles but some of the new ones use a lighter oil that needs to be changed more frequently. My ‘16 Honda MTF recommended change interval is 30k so I stick to that. It isn’t in the owners manual—I called the local dealership, and asked one of the technicians for their recommendation on interval. Did it myself but bought the fluid from them, it needs special Honda fluid anyway. Last time I changed it, it looked like it needed it so I think the technician probably steered me right.

  22. The only case where the manual “outperforms” the modern auto is rare 0-60 scenarios where it only takes one shift. The modern automatics are responsive and there is some enjoyment to be had with the paddle shifting (on well programmed ones), it pales in comparison to real engagement. Hell, with anti-stall, takeoff assist, and rev-match there’s even something missing from the manual experience now.

  23. I recently rented a Chevy Malibu with a CVT. The acceleration certainly is smooth. I guess they didn’t program notches into the thing to make it feel like a geared transmission. The “shifter” had D and L, along with a + and – button at the handle. As far as I could tell the + and – did nothing, but I didn’t get too deep into the operation of the thing. The dash showed I spent the whole time in ECO mode and again, not interested enough to dig in and find what other modes there might be. Or maybe the rental company locked out sport modes?

    Either way, a CVT would be a great transmission for an old school Cadillac or Rolls Royce. The smoothness is notable. In a plush ride vehicle it would be a major selling point. But not in anything that you’d want to drive for driving’s sake. Driving it was beyond boring. Set the cruise and try to stay awake. No downshifting on the descent, just burn up the brakes (it’s a rental after all), although I guess that’s what the “L” setting is for.

    I’m more of a “drive fast slowly” driver, having grown up on 80’s econoboxes with 4 speed manuals. I can spend all day on the twisties doing 40 MPH and totally ignore the fast straights. That involves a lot of shifting. With a stick it’s all second nature and muscle memory. With an “automatic” manual, the flappy paddles don’t offer any feedback as to what gear you’re in so you have to constantly be looking at the dash. And the computer will fight you when downshifting into a turn too. But I must be the exception.

    And then there’s the cost of manufacturing an automatic transmission vs a manual. Any difference is likely low enough that there’s little to no cost difference between a manual and automatic anyway. Heck, the manual shift lever probably costs more in design and materials than the microchip that runs the automatic, so why bother offering it?

    • Hi RK,

      The Malibu – which I reviewed recently – is like a good microwave oven. It works. Heats your coffee. But it doesn’t get you going (as hot coffee does). It’s just another appliance. Use it until it stops working – and then throw it away. No one is going to keep one of these for the next 40 years – and even if someone did, who would care?

      • And I’d add it doesn’t know what it should be. Designed by committee, evaluated by focus group. Some nice doodads in the stereo but not enough to matter. Abslutely useless tachometer (oh boy, it revs up to 2500 RPM and stays there) takes up massive amount of space on the cluster. Why? Because someone in the focus group said it looks “sporty” that’s why. They could put the display screen there and be different but no, the stereo has to go in the middle so the wife can override your music choices. The whole thing is about as exciting as a Big Mac. Getting people to buy it? That’s marketing’s job, not design or engineering.

        Harley Earl would have played off the CVT’s smoothness and added the “boulevard ride” Jay Leno always talks about when he profiles a 60s car. Crank up the power steering pump so you can steer with your pinky. Thick tires to suck up all the potholes. Extra insulation to keep the outside outside. Bring back the wrap-around cockpit for the driver. Make it interesting.

  24. It’s so much easier to tow a heavy trailer with a stick. The tow/haul feature just can’t effectively upshift / downshift as well as an experienced driver. To be sure I’m talking about an 18’ equipment trailer & pickup truck not a Kenworth with 13 speed Eaton pulling a 53’ van.

  25. Why offer a manual if you won’t allow the buyer to choose the most powerful engine ?
    FU, Subaru. You’re no better than Honda, Ford and GM who have rarely offered anything I wanted to buy (except at a ridiculous price.)

    • Fortunately, Lesbaru’s are easy to swap parts with, so it won’t take much for someone to swap in a FA or EJ in them along with the corresponding manual to handle the power as well

  26. My left foot gets antsy when I drive my wife’s SUV, my truck or my Infiniti because I love the engagement of working a clutch and rowing the gears. There’s something manly that connects you with the machine that you can’t get with an automatic.

    My second oldest son knows and loves driving stick and he’s got a 25 year old stick shift EK Civic that my cousin and I turned into a great, reliable runabout for him. He’s the only one in his friend group who knows how to drive stick and the only one who likes cars. I sense a correlation!

  27. ‘It would be interesting to see what the market would have to say about all this.’ — eric

    When the market says things they don’t like, groomers step in to change its attitude. Headline in today’s New York Slimes:

    Climate Change for Preschoolers: A TV Show Explores Unmapped Ground

    That is, program innocent tykes to believe ‘climate change baaaaaaaad’ before they’ve even mastered arithmetic.

    Of course, religion is inculcated the same way, from toddlerhood. Which is appropriate, given that ‘climate change’ is a secular religion presided over by the benevolent divinity Gaia.

    Gaia told me that Pete Buttitwitch needs to be hurled into a volcano … for the children.

  28. Eric,

    Thankfully, Ford did an excellent job of programming the DCT in my Focus. When I accelerate gently, it upshifts quickly; when I give it more gas, it shifts at higher revs. If I just give it a little extra gas during acceleration, it’ll downshift one gear; if I give it more, it’ll downshift multiple gears. Props to the guys who programmed it; they did a GREAT job!

    As for manuals, I like them except: 1) driving in traffic with one is a PITA; and 2) when you have arthritic knees, operating a clutch isn’t fun at times.

    • Marky,
      I had to give up my manual Miata last year because of arthritic pain in my shoulders shifting to fifth and reverse, often taking two hands to do it. Getting old sucks. It was a sad acceptance of reality for me.
      Driving in traffic with a manual is largely CAUSED by those driving automatics. Stopping 30′ behind the car in front of them at an intersection, and then creeping up on them 5′ at a time. Not clearing the intersection, forcing you to change gears. Etc.

      • I’ll say it again, The root of automotive evil is the automatic transmission.
        Traffic problems are caused largely by AT drivers with things that only make sense when driving an AT.
        I remember my short time in Germany when and where MTs dominated. I wasn’t frustrated in traffic once. Not once. And I was in quite the snarls at times too. A traffic jam in Germany at that time was less frustrating than normal traffic in the Chicago area.
        It’s more than shifting. An MT enforces good driving habits. If you are sloppy there is a penalty in effort on your part. The AT removes the penalty for being sloppy. That sloppiness translates into inconsideration for other road users.

        • I agree, Brent –

          Driving a manual focuses the mind (and body) on the task at hand. I’ve taught prolly a half dozen kids how to drive – and I always do so using a manual car. I won’t do it otherwise.

          • Aaah yes, Eric, I learned to drive with a manual transmission. Nothing was more frightening than being taken to the edge of a steep hill, and then ordered to stop right before reaching the top! The, drive over-the-top-of-the-hill-without-rolling-backwards trick was knuckle whitening, but probably more so for my teacher, as well. I have heard, though, that now “kids” (new drivers) do not even have to learn how to parallel park anymore, with the new technology in some vehicles? Good grief (borrowing a line from Charlie Brown). But yes, with driving a new, now-automatic vehicle, I learned rather quickly that in comparison, it truly is a lazy way to drive, and one does not have to be nearly on their toes, as I find I have to be more attentive when driving my semi-retired, manual trans car. Sigh, if only it could have lasted forever, I would never have bought a new one…

      • John,

        Even if it weren’t for my knees, I don’t know if I’d get a stick; I have to drive in traffic more than I’d like, and driving a stick in traffic is a PITA. Besides, the DCT on my Focus does a great job! I don’t even use sport mode very often, let alone the paddle shifters, very often; it does a good job in drive. If I want to have fun, I put it in sport mode and use the shift paddles… 🙂

    • Marky,

      Driving in traffic with one would be MUCH less painful, if people would keep rolling at a slow speed (even if only 1-2 mph) rather than stopping dead, only to roll forward about 10 feet and then stop dead again. Much easier (and easier on the clutch) to stay rolling as long as possible.

      You can compensate for this somewhat by staying stopped for a while & letting a good long gap open up, then trying to do this anyway. Works well unless someone decides to cut I to your space. Some (not all) semi’s also try to do this, so if you can get behind one it might help.

      It’s still easier, and preferable to, remembering to plug the car in every night.

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