Why are the manual transmission EPA fuel economy ratings so low?

I know the modern 5+ speed automatics with torque converters that lock up in most gears do just as well as a manual transmission on fuel economy. I’m asking about the older 4 speed automatics where the torque converter only locks up in the highest gear, where the lock up mostly doesn’t happen in city driving.

Look at this:
[1995 Ford F150 Pickup 4WD] 4.9 L, 6 cyl, Automatic 4-spd, Regular Gasoline 14 MPG city 18 MPG highway 15 MPG combined 13.3 MPG user reported
[1995 Ford F150 Pickup 4WD] 4.9 L, 6 cyl, Manual 5-spd, Regular Gasoline 14 MPG city 18 MPG highway 15 MPG combined 16.4 MPG user reported
Source: Fuel Economy of 1995 Ford F150 Pickup 4WD

Was the test driver on these tests up shifting way too late or what? The manual city fuel economy is the same as the automatic on the EPA test. Even the user reported economy shows a huge increase with the manual, and that’s combined not just city. A manual should get at a minimum 10% better MPG in city driving compared to an automatic of the time. It should be 18 or 19 MPG city not 14. Do many people drive manual vehicles that badly and the EPA test is correctly testing the vehicles based on the average driver?

??? The user reported mpg is 16.4, which is some mix of highway and city, so where does ‘18 or 19 MPG city’ come from?

The manual may have a “shorter” final drive ratio, encouraging higher rpm, even in the city mpg test.
The auto’s torque converter can also allow lower engine rpm through torque multiplication.
And Ford may have tuned that big old school straight 6 differently for the manual.

That would result in 15.4 mpg instead of 14.

Figures for vehicles of 26 years ago? Why bother?


Since manual transmission are becoming almost non - existent why do you even care ?
Seems like a valid question .


EPA mileage data that is16 years old? What’s the point you’re trying to make? I really don’t see why anyone would even care anymore.


Me thinks Mr. Renegade has ( TheWonderful90s ) formerly ( InvisableSnowman ) pegged .


There should be a disclaimer on this website warning those with idle curiosity to stay away.

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The original reason for a manual transmission wasn’t so much the fuel economy, it was the cost! The standard transmission was cheaper. You know what is also disappearing? The new $16,000 pickup truck from 1995.

But I guess things aren’t all that much different, because if you use the 32 cent 1995 1st class postage stamp compared to 58 cents in 2021 to calculate inflation, that $16,000 should be $29,000 today.

Why was the Ford Model T discontinued even though it was the lowest cost bare bones $260 car in 1926?

The answer is exactly the same as why there is no longer a bare bones $29,000 full size 6 cylinder manual trans truck for sale.

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Here’s an older article that explains how the EPA calculates MPG


Well there it is! I speculate that Ford makes more money selling an automatic transmissions. At the time the towing capacity for the manual was rated much lower than the automatic version of the truck. More encouragement to buy an automatic! Now I wonder what Toyota’s story is. I assume their reason is similar. I guess somebody is losing money when a manual transmission is sold and it isn’t the owner of the vehicle.

IIRC. For the 1993 F-150 with the 4.9L I6. You could get rear end gears as tall as 2.73 with the manual. With the automatic, I want to say that 3.08’s were standard. Due to the 4.9L I6’s characteristics ( Good low end torque, and absolutely nothing beyond 3500 RPM), taller gearing was a benefit in typical driving.

They do because it costs a lot of money to certify an engine and transmission configuration for the EPA emissions and fuel economy for a combo no one buys anymore. Sales rates for manual transmissions dropped to less than 10% years ago so many models dropped them altogether including the current Corvette and every Ferrari.

These days it is very hard to sell a used car with a manual.

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It may be hard to sell a manual but it seems that when it sells it is someone who traveled all day to get a particular model with a manual transmission!

The market has become a tiny group of hard core enthusiasts.
I’d drive all day to buy a Studebaker Avanti, if I had the space and time for one.

I thoroughly enjoyed my last 4 stickshift cars, but getting stuck on I-95 in stop-and-go for a couple hours and getting panicked when my ageing left leg started aching … I knew my next daily driver had to be an auto.

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The last 2 I sold with manuals… no one was traveling one mile let alone across the state for one, the other came about an hour but that car was never sold with an automatic.

Manual trans cars are anti theft devices for Millenial age thieves.

Last manual I owned was my 1998 Nissan Pathfinder. Can’t find an SUV that’s a manual anymore. Some small cars and sports cars. Friends 2017 Corvette Stingray is a 7-speed manual. The newer corvettes are auto’s only.

Look at this SOLD 1999 Dodge Ram 5.9 Cummins Diesel 4x4 Manual 5-speed (Low...

1999 Dodge RAM 2500 5 speed manual diesel Cummins 4x4 115k miles that looks like it is in excellent like new condition from the outside and on the inside too. LISTED AS SOLD FOR $34,800 on Craigslist. $34,800 for a 22 year old truck!!! But that doesn’t matter because it’s 22 years old and nobody cares about it right?

Specific buyers go crazy for the manual transmission, my brother’s 1987 Mazda 4x4 gets offer’s on the windshield so often that my brother’s been hiding it behind a fence. It’s one of 3 stick shift’s he owns and refuses to get rid of. 2006 Legacy wagon that he had to get from a dealer in another state because it was the last new stick shift wagon left in that trim level. 2009 Vw GTi special ordered with heated seats and a sunroof but nothing else. One or the other of the cars is going to be the car his kids learn to drive stick on. The only Automatic in his overloaded driveway is the Toyota Sequoia which is the family car.