Remember that first feeling of getting behind the wheel? That feeling of control and power, knowing that you could feel the vehicle respond at the slight touch of your foot on the accelerator. For me, that feeling is almost always present when I'm driving a manual transmission. I love being able to control the vehicle, knowing exactly when I want to shift for more power to the wheels, and commanding when to pull it back a notch. And of course, who can ignore that great feeling of a perfectly mastered rev-matched downshift. Nowadays, with more and more emphasis placed on multi-tasking, it may be tough to focus on shifting while you sip your coffee, talk on your Bluetooth and keep one eye on your three year old in the backseat who insists on opening that box of cookies! Understandably, most people I talk to have never driven a manual transmission - nor do they care to!
There are some actual economic benefits to driving a manual transmission which many people forget:
Drivers can also save on fuel with a manual car by shifting up early and downshifting late - keeping your RPMs lower than an automatic transmission would - typically around 1,200 to 1,500 RPMs. By keeping your vehicle in this range, your engine is not working as hard as it would at higher RPMs.
Consumer reports recently did a study on automatic vs. manual transmissions and found that stick shifts can improve gas mileage notably.
Despite these great benefits, many manufacturers sell manual transmissions only on their base models, and sales of manual transmissions are estimated to be much lower than ever before. Even top luxury vehicles are dropping manual transmissions altogether! Have a look at this article in MotorTrend which announced Lamborghini's plans to rid their lineup of manual transmissions. Well, if it's good enough for Lamborghini, it's probably good for us too!
There are however many other car lovers like me who believe that there is still a place for three pedals in a vehicle. Car and Driver Magazine has started the campaign, "Save The Manuals" in an effort to unite stick shift lovers and convert the automatic population! They have a Facebook page, and you can buy all sorts of merchandise displaying "Save the Manuals." I proudly display my "Save the Manuals" badge!
So we want to know what you think: Do you know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle?
Do you think manual transmission vehicles will be extinct soon - despite their fuel economy benefits?
- Julie S.