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What happened to the Manuals?

Is it just me are there others out there upset buy the fact that so many new cars are not available with a manual transmission unless you get the base model without many available options. With a Toyota Matrix I can only get 2 colors unless I also order a 4 speed auto. GRRR

You’re not efficient enough when shifting a manual transmission because of the variables. So they want the computer to do the shifting to get the best mileage. In other words, the more control they take away from the driver, the more the vehicle is in control.


It’s the 21st Century Who wants to drive a Model “A” Ford now days? Have you noticed they have gotten away from the old hand crank to start the engine?

It’s marketing people at work. If the manual transmission design work was done, there is no technical reason to not offer it in any color or option configuration. You can have a manual transmission if you really, really want one but limiting your choice in some way may compel buyers to opt for the automatic which is more profitable for the mfr.

I have not yet figured out why a manual is offered if the mfr simply does not want to sell it. It could be possible that the model or basic vehicle platform is sold elsewhere in the world where a manual trans is more popular so rather than lose a sale here, you can have a manual if you insist.

It could be too that a manual trans buyer would also prefer a base model to keep the cost down. An option loaded vehicle with a manual trans might have a limited number of buyers according to marketing research, making it more difficult to sell. The color limitation defies explanation.

I like a manual trans too but would rather buy another brand that can better respect a customer’s wants.

I don’t think this is related to technology. Manuals are still the most popular cars in Europe and rest of the world. They still get all the bells and whistles with it. The average American car consumer just does not to learn to shift a manual transmission, so it does not sell. If everybody stopped buying white cars, guess what, they would not produce any white cars. It is the market. Poor me, looking for a manual car for my daily driver, can’t find a decent one, only very sporty cars. I like manuals both for the driving experience and also because of ease of maintenance and lower risk of being completely stranded. The cars that are available in manual have very high insurance rates due to their sporty nature.

I read that ICE was cracking down and sending more and more back to their home country.

This arrogant attitude is the reason why I don’t want to have anything to do with Toyota when I’m done with my Scion. There are at least 3 compact wagons(Kia, Mazda, VW) out there with 6 speed manuals vs Toyota’s condescending 5 speed.

Those who want to have immediate power, without the squishy unlocked torque converter in city traffic. Those who want a lightweight, simple transmission that lasts the life of the vehicle.

Speaking of hand crank, I don’t have one, but I sure can push/roll start my car in a pinch.

Let’s face it, in the real world a very high percentage of drivers want an automatic. The manufacturers know this and that is what you are seeing.

If you are looking at the messages here, you are getting a distorted view of the American car buyer. Most people who buy cars don’t read or post messages here, or even know we are here. The manufacturers do see all new car buyers and they do a good job of making the cars that they can sell at a profit.

If you could start asking each car owner at the fuel pumps across the US, You might be surprised to find that those cars that the manufacturers are making are the cars the new car buyers want.

I don’t have the data handy, but I would guess you would be surprised to know how few drivers want a manual transmission.

I have never owned an automatic. I have owned a car of one kind or another since 1965 and not one of them has been an automatic, although I have driven quite a few automatics, I generally prefer manuals. In a few years when my wife retires we expect to move to the north west. There I likely will buy my first automatic as it will fit my driving conditions better.

I’ve Got 7 Cars, Six Automatics And One Manual. The Manual Has A Sporty Feel And Is Fun To Drive Occasionally, But I Wouldn’t Want To Go Back To Driving It Full-Time, Like I Once Did.

What for ? I will admit to drinking coffee, lots of coffee, while driving early. It’s no more distracting than shifting gears, but try and do both together. Being an older (84) small sporty car, there’s no cup holders or any place for a cup. I guess this is really somewhat about cupholders, isn’t it ?

Even driving later in the day without coffee, the fun (big Whoop) of shifting gets old, especially in traffic.

I have two of these old sporty cars, the other is an 86 automatic. It does have a V-6 rather than a 4-banger, but I prefer its auto trans, too.

Also, I find that for the snowy, icy conditions we have much of the year, an automatic just works better for me.

Reliability ? I drive my cars forever and have never had internal transmission problems. However, when I drove manuals, I’d replace clutches once in a while, not because of how I drove, but because of cross-shafts, bushings, throw-out bearings, and transmission seals, etcetera. I did have to replace the clutch cable in my one manual car, so far.

Give me an automatic, please.

If one manufacturer, in this case Toyota, doesn’t sell what you want then you’ve got the right idea. Quit buying from them.


Here, let me rewrite your post with my pet peeve!

Is it just me or are there others out there upset buy the fact that so many new cars are not available with a 1600cc engine unless you get the super economy model without many available options. GRRR

While I think I would like a small engine, it’s obvious that the rest of the buying public does not. Let’s face, in a market driven economy, they make what sells. So if you are going to blame anyone, blame the average buyer. The alternative is to pay a preminum for a manual transmission - so how much more are you willing to pay for this?

I think it has to do with the aging of the population. I drove manuals for decades, but age-related disabilities have made an automatic a better choice now. As the baby boomer generation ages, products in the marketplace adapt.

“It’s the 21st Century Who wants to drive a Model “A” Ford now days”?
I do!!! The Model A was a real improvement over the Model T. The Model A had three forward speeds instead of two and you operated the transmission with a real gearshift lever. The throttle became an accelerator and was moved off the steering column to the floor.

We’ve lost a lot on today’s cars from the Model A. The Model A could still be hand cranked if the battery was low. The spare tire was full size and mounted where it was easy to access. The windshield opened to let in fresh air. You didn’t have to worry about leaking or contaminated brake fluid–you just had to keep the brake rods in adjustment.

Even a company as large Toyota can’t build a car for everyone. Each additional item offered on a car increases the cost to everyone. It might be 10 or 20 bucks, but the manufacturers sweat even that small amount. Try a European brand. They offer manual transmissions because manuals are the favored transmission back home.

I think that the domestic manufacturers forced automatics on the public by putting troublesome shift linkages on cars back in the 1950s and into the 1960s. At that time, the manual transmissions were three speed units with the gearshift on the column. The optional automatic transmission became a hit when introduced on many cars. The Pontiac, for instance, began offering an automatic transmission in 1948. Over 80% of the 8 cylinder and over 50% of the six cylinder engines were equipped that year with the automatic transmission. The Buick introduced the automatic transmission on its top line Roadmaster in 1948 and by 1950, 85% of all Buicks were equipped with the automatic. A high percentage of the Chevrolets were equipped with the PowerGlide automatic transmission when it was introduced in 1950. Since the manufacturers could sell so many automatic transmissions as an option, the manual transmission became a step child. My 1947 Pontiac, my 1948 Dodge and my 1954 Buick had smooth shifting automatic transmissions. My 1955 Pontiac and my 1965 Rambler had terrible shifting transmission. One popular accessory was a floor shift conversion kit to make the transmissions shift better. However, the damage had been done and more and more people decided to just opt for the automatic.

I don’t think this is unusual in economy cars. I would not be surprised if the bean counters correlated manual transmission cars with colors most preferred by their owners or found some other economic reason to restrict the colors. I think it’s less of an engineering decision and more of a profit making decision. The tighter the profit, the more restrictive the option package. That was explained to me by my cousin and part owner of a Subaru dealership many years ago when I bought a manual and found just a couple of colors available and I assume it’s still true today. it only makes sense that with fewer cars being manual, the fewer choices of everything else you’ll get. It’s not the car manufacturers who are restricting your options; it’s the rest of the buying public !

I don’t think comparing manual transmissions to hand-cranked engines on model A Fords is a fair comparison. Cars have seen many, many refinements since the model A Ford. In fact, cars have seen a lot of refinements just in the last 20 years or so, but I still see cases, particularly with small-engined economy cars, where a 5 or 6 speed manual works MUCH better than the typical 4-speed auto does, especially in the ease with which they can accelerate uphill. I realize that driver competence does play a part in this.

Also, I suspect that I’m probably not the only ADHD addled person in the world who seems to cope much better with a stick shift. I love driving my 6-speed Versa.

Also, it’s the pollution requirements - it costs a lot to certify ech combination of engine and transmission. If a combination is low in popularity (like manuals are these days) the maker’s not going to spend the money to get it certified.

And these days there’s no real mpg advantage for most manuals, with the 6-speed autos and computer controls.

A lot of today’s cars come with five speed automatics. The four speed automatic is appearing less and less.

It’s simply a demand issue. Most people don’t even know how to drive a manual transmission. It costs the manufacturers a lot of money to make cars that people don’t wnat to buy. In all things, when you are in the minority your options will be limited, whether it’s at teh car dealership or at the supermarket. Same thing.