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what better a manual or automatic.

With the highly efficient automatics of today, it is a purely personal choice. I prefer a stick-shift in my sports car, but the family truckster has an automatic. Also, after my experience moving and towing, an automatic in a tow rig is preferable to a stick, especially when trying to manuever a loaded trailer into difficult parking slot. Just remember to turn off the over-drive when pulling a decent-sized load to prevent transmission damage.

But, when belting around some switch-backs or whipping around the auto-cross, I just like to bang the gears.

This question is the automotive equivalent of those childhood-era debates on the topic of “Are dogs or cats better?”. The answer to both queries is that whichever one you prefer is the better one.

Modern designs have closed the gap between the two. There are still differences, but the differences are just not large enough to be an overriding issue. If you like auto, go for auto. If you like manual go for manual. Unless you have some special use for your car, neither should be a bad choice.

Better for what?