It's the best way to drive. We're at little biased here. But then again, we do this for a living; and driving dozens of cars every year, we can assure you, there is nothing quite like rowing your own as you put a car through its paces. We prefer the manual transmission. It puts you more in touch with the mechanics of the car. It puts you more in touch with the road. It puts you more in touch with the part of your soul that is both stirred and soothed by the act of driving, and doing it well.
But, last year, just six percent of car buyers signed up for it. Nearly 94 percent of the cars sold in America in 2009 had an automatic transmission (and here we're counting CVTs as automatics. Disagree if you wish. We count two pedals).
Sure, we understand. You've got family responsibilities now, and there aren't family cars with manuals. Or you live in the snow belt and need all-wheel-drive...and there aren't any AWD options with sticks. Or your next car will probably be the one to teach the kids in, and with so many automatics out there it just makes more sense.
But there are. Sure, some manufacturers have dropped the stick from their high-volume sellers. But others haven't. You can get a nice family sedan, even an AWD one, with a manual. You'll often save money by getting the stick. And trust us, someday you'll find yourself on an empty, winding road, and you'll be thankful.
Oh, and one final sales pitch -- if you are going to teach the kids to drive in your next car, remember this: they can't text and drive if both hands are busy driving.
Now, on to the list...
2010 Honda Accord CoupeEnlarge Photo
Chevy and Ford have dropped the manual completely from the midsize family car class. But the Japanese somehow cling to it. Several trim levels of Accord sedan, from the budget-friendly LX to the well-equipped EX, are available with a five-speed manual. Every trim level of Accord Coupe is offered with a stick. Honda clutches are light and easy -- even if you spend time in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you probably won't mind it.