Buying advice for manual transmission for a trainee old fart

I’d like to think I’m not a geezer just yet (I don’t wear a hat while driving and I have yet to buy plaid pants) but… I’m 55 and have always driven manual transmission cars. I currently have a 2005 Toyota RAV4 5-speed which I love. However its beginning to get a bit long in the tooth and I’d like to get a new small SUV that has modern conveniences such as navigation, back up camera, heated seats etc. There doesn’t seem to be any new small SUVs with manual transmission… does anyone know of any? Or should I get with the 21st century and settle for an automatic? Any recommendations?

Get the automatic. When the knees start to get weaker you will appreciate not having to shift. I love manual shift vehicles as well but I switched to an automatic transmission because my knees began to bother me. I’m much more comfortable now while driving.

In addition to what missileman stated, I will add that modern vehicles with a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) frequently get better gas mileage than the same vehicle equipped with a manual transmission. Ergo–the main advantage of manual transmissions has essentially disappeared.

Years ago, I owned a couple of manual transmission cars, mainly because of the superior gas mileage and being able to maintain more precise control of the vehicle. However, the bloom wore off of the rose very rapidly whenever I had to drive in stop & go traffic. That was when I was much younger. At my current six decades + age, I can’t even imagine how annoying and tiring it would be to drive a manual trans in stop & go traffic.

Audi and BMW have shiftable automatics. You control the shift points and the transmission takes care of the rest. If you want a clutch, you could buy a Porsche Cayenne. But is a clutch worth the $30,000 more you will pay over a small, but not so similar, SUV that costs about $25,000?

The Mazda CX-5 is available with a manual transmission.

Several Subarus are available with manuals.

“Several Subarus are available with manuals.”

…but not the new-design 2015 Outback, apparently.
According to one source, you can get any transmission you want on the new Outback…as long as it is a CVT. No more manuals, and no more “conventional” automatics–at least in the US market.

One of the many reasons why I bought a 6-cylinder 2011 Outback was because it came with a “conventional” 5-speed automatic. Now that the CVT has (hopefully) been beefed-up in order to withstand the torque of the 6-cylinder engine, the older 5EAT has been discontinued.

The downside is, when these AWD automatics fail, it usually totals the car They are not cheap to fix…So you want to trade before the 100K mile mark…But as manufacturers are forced to offer longer warranties, the lifespan of these transmissions is improving…

Consumer Reports New Car Preview will provide a comparative analysis of everything available on the market. It’s worth a stop at the bookstore. Well worth the cost,

Subaru, mini, jeep, and others have what you are looking for. Just do some research. Modern power trains have more than 3 speeds to augment smaller engines that don’t have ripping torque. Clutch pedals aren’t as stiff as they used to be. My current car has interior room of a Camry and a clutch pedal made of plastic

At 55 the knees will start to go and you’ll appreciate not having to push the clutch in so many times. Most have the paddle shift if you must shift yourself, but I find it really distracting. The biggest advantage to a MT if you live in a metro area is that car thieves don’t know how to drive them. What’s the world coming to?

The CX-5 and the Forester can be had with a manual but only on the basic trim levels, same with the Nissan Juke. Otherwise it’s basically Automatic/CVT only. Some such as Honda still make theirs with a manual for other markets such as the UK but gave up on selling only a handful here with a stick shift.

Forger the nay votes. Get what you like, but maybe rent an automatic for a week and see if you like it better. If not, I have seen a lot of great deals on 1-2 yr old CX-5 Mazda’s with stick. Seems like most of those who buy them, get tired of shifting and trade them in on something else.

Paddle shifters have never done anything for me. It is a funky combination. I can adjust my shifting points just fine with my auto with the gas pedal. I just like to push the clutch and change gears.

When I was working at the dealership, there were actually several guys that did not know how to drive stick

All of these guys were several years younger than me

Bing A few days back there was a local news story. An elderly lady in the big city (nothing newsworthy ever happens in my little town) was putting something in her trunk. Three teenage thugs approached. One stuck a gun in her face and told her to drop the keys. All three jumped in her car and could not even start it. They had no clue what the clutch pedal was. They jumped out and ran away but were caught on surveillance cameras and rounded up soon after. The woman was being interviewed by a reporter and could hardly tell her story because she was laughing so hard.

I’ll take a regular automatic over a CVT every day of the week. And paddle shifters are a joke. The cars I’ve driven that had them will still shift the gear if you fail to do so, so it’s still basically an automatic. If the car in question has a hydraulic clutch then I say go for it. If you’re currently using a manual without physical issue/annoyance then go for it. And I think Mazda is making really great stuff currently. The in-laws have a cx5 and loved it so much they just changed their other car for a Mazda 6. Both look sharp and have great features.

Most stick shifts are the basic trim packages anymore, so you can forget having backup camera and heated seats; Garmin is a good navigation system. I forget when, 2016 or 2020, backup cameras are supposed to be mandatory, so you might luck out in a year or two with the camera.

If you want more than the basic trim line, you will probably have to go for the automatic transmission. However, you can “convert” the automatic transmission to a manual for under $10 and 15 minutes worth of work. Go to a WalMart or similar store and visit the plumbing department. Pick up a short handled plumber’s plunger. Next, go to the automotive section and purchase a gearshift knob. Affix the gearshift knob to the end of the plunger opposite the suction cup. Then, install the assembly in your car by pushing down on the gearshift knob so that the suction cup end of the plunger sticks to the floor. As you drive, concentrate on “shifting” with the automatic transmission. Your shifts will be smooth and you will be shifting at the point for maximum performance or for the best economy. You also will never “lug” your engine. The beauty of this “conversion” kit is that you can remove it easily and move it to your next car. However, I think that you will find that you rarely use this shifter. In this case, take it in the house and you will have it to open a clogged sink drain. One caveat–this “conversion kit” won’t work with a CVT transmission.
My last manual shift car was a 1965 Rambler. When I replaced the car in 1973 with a 1971 Ford Maverick Grabber, the Maverick had an automatic transmission. I wasn’t able to design a column shift conversion kit like my floor shift conversion kit, so I had to get used to the automatic transmission. After a week, I was convinced that I didn’t care to go back to a manual transmission.
When I was growing up, my dad maintained he could shift gears more smoothly than the automatic transmissions available at the time (1950s). One ride in a car with the old GM Hydramatic transmission will convince you of that. The original Chevrolet PowerGlide and Buick Dynaflow automatic transmissions were smooth (no shifting–these transmissions depended on the torque converter for torque multiplication), but wasted a lot of fuel. Today’s automatic transmissions not only shift very smoothly, but are economical as well. If I can adapt to today’s world at age 72, at 55 the OP can learn to live with an automatic transmission.

" If I can adapt to today’s world at age 72, at 55 the OP can learn to live with an automatic transmission."

…especially since manual transmissions no longer yield better gas mileage, as compared to modern CVTs…

@VDCdriver–I thought I was adapting to today’s world until last Thursday. I thought I had my 2011 Toyota Sienna pretty well figured out. I’ve paired my cell phone via blue tooth with the car’s audio system. I paired my garage door opener with the button control on the mirror. However, a friend of mine who is in his 80s was riding back from a band concert we had just played. He pushed a button on the passenger side and a second glove compartment opened that I didn’t know was there. I showed this compartment to my wife and she thought the lid was the cover for the passenger side airbag.
I did go modern a couple of week’s ago and bought a Black and Decker rechargeable battery lawnmower from a friend who decided to have someone mow her lawn. It does the job, but is too quiet. You really aren’t mowing unless you make noise, just as you really aren’t driving unless you shift gears. I remedied the situation by affixing a model airplane engine to the handle. I don’t feel I’m mowing unless I hear an engine roaring and smell exhaust fumes. This idea is analogous to my manual shift conversion kit for automatic transmissions.