Why do you prefer a stick-shift over an automatic transmission?

From the current thread regarding automotive brand loyalty, there are clearly some of you out there who prefer driving a car with manual transmission over automatic:

I don’t get it.

A stick-shift is OK, I guess, in an open highway situation where you just need to cycle through the gears. But for city driving or in heavy traffic? What a pain to have to constantly be clutching and unclutching and shifting and downshifting.

It’s not that I can’t drive a stick. I learned early on an old pickup truck my Dad had. My college roommate let me borrow his manual VW station wagon all the time. And I even owned a manual vehicle for a couple years in my my mid-20s; I was broke and desperately needed to replace my car, and I bought the cheapest one I could find.

So I’m proficient enough - I just don’t like doing it, and I don’t understand why anybody would prefer adding so much more work to the task of driving than necessary.

@Lancia, @eschrodinger, @WildaBeast, and anyone else who wants to chime in, I invite you to enlighten me on what I’m missing about the joys of driving a stick.

They’re cheaper. Both to initially purchase and service and fix and replace. That’s the reason I used to prefer them. It’s not like I’m doing anything with that hand and foot while driving that I can’t save ~5% of the cost of a car over its lifetime.

They’re also harder to steal because plenty of criminals can’t drive stick :wink:

These days many automatics are CVTs which are enough more fuel efficient to make up the difference, so I don’t much care.

A stick is cool. Automatics are for nerds.

it really depends on what the vehicle is. I’d definitely go with a stick if I got another Mustang. but for day to day commuting on congested freeways, I don’t want the hassle.

I think the idea is that a stick shift puts you “closer to the car”. My own preference is to have a car that thinks for itself as much as possible, a preference that is probably strengthened by many years of congested freeway and big-city driving. Give me automatic transmission, ABS, cameras, proximity-warning and collision avoidance systems – I love it all! It’s all a matter of personal taste.

I regard a car as just a means of transportation, demanding only reliability and some degree of comfort and safety. Which is the exact opposite of how I regard boats. I detest motorboats and love sailing – being at the wheel of a magnificent large sailboat in a strong wind and choppy waves, with the boat heeling at a seemingly precarious angle and the sails stretched taut, spray dashing over the bow, is a wondrous experience. Some would rightfully argue that a motorboat is more versatile and practical for getting from Point A to Point B. As I said, it’s all about one’s personal values.

It’s not just that it puts you “closer to the car”, it’s that it makes you physically, mechanically, a part of the car. Your right hand and your left foot become levers that regulate the transfer of power and torque. You can FEEL the mechanical energy. This is why, for instance, I can’t stand shift paddles - because they don’t transmit any of the friction of the engagement of the gears to you; they’re just electronic switches, the same as the ones that control the air conditioner and the radio. The FEELING of having DIRECT COMMAND over the transfer of power from the engine to the wheels is what a three-pedal manual car offers me that I simply cannot get with any other type of car.

Go drive a long bit of twisty highway with lots of uphill bits in the automatic, then the manual. Just trying to keep a slushbox in the right gear going up a long grade is maddening–a manual you PUT into the correct gear and it fucking well STAYS THERE until you tell the car to go into a different gear. They do suck in traffic though, no argument there.

Alas, my days of owning manuals are probably over–with a blown left knee and tendonitis in both shoulders driving a manual is an exercise in pain leading to complete inability. Sigh. Maybe some day I can afford a garage queen to take out only on nice days when I can put the top down and go get squirrelly sideways for a while.

I started driving a stick in the early '80s. I always felt more in control and part of the car.

At first, yeah, it was a pain with city driving (which I mostly did and still do). But after a while, one hardly knows they are shifting or paying attention. It just became so natural.

And, with all the snow we get where I am, I definitely felt more in control shifting.

My current car is an automatic, and it’s my first automatic car in almost forty years. I only have that because my lease was up and I was a few months removed from a mild stroke, and I was worried about my coordination shifting and stuff.

But I’m fine, so I’m not sure what I’ll get next year when my lease is up. I do admit that having the remote start is very nice and it’s the first car I’ve had that has it.

I can shift gears better and cheaper at home.

It’s been a while since I could use a clutch. I’m getting my left knee replaced next week and maybe in a couple of months I could do it again.

My Mazda 6 is a manual. I must have gotten it one of the last years it was offered.

I like them because it feels more like I’m driving the car rather than the car doing its own thing while I happen to be sitting there. I feel like it makes me more engaged.

I’m guessing my next car will be self-driving, where I do nothing at all.

Manual transmissions are kind of like universal health care - something that’s standard everywhere else in the world because they’re smarter than us.

Our Mazda3 is a manual. In the other thread I mentioned it is the first car I have owned that is fun to drive. As mentioned, you are part of the machinery so you have more control. A few years ago I took it up Hwy 33 north of Ojai, CA (check map) - WOW that really opened my eyes up to what even a stock fun car can do. No doubt it is a PITA in stop-and-go traffic, but where I live (and where I used to commute, when there was a commute), I did not have to go far and there were some back-roads I could use to make the drive all the more fun.

Granted, if you consider an automobile a mere appliance that you endure to get from one point to another, there are plenty of options there. Manual cars are becoming more rare and thus more sought-after by those of us who appreciate a little fun and performance while driving.

I learned to drive stick in Midtown Manhattan. :grimacing:

With stick, it feels like I’m actually driving, as opposed to merely riding.

I’ve owned many cars since 1980 and not a single one of them had an automatic transmission. I love shifting. Even in city traffic (95% of my driving) I prefer it; driving is just too boring with no shifting to do. So my reasons are:

  1. More fun
  2. Better control
  3. Even an underpowered car can drive like a badass.
  4. Less likely to get stolen
  5. Don’t have to worry about my wife wanting to drive it
  6. Might or might not be more reliable; I haven’t seen any studies.

A few years ago I would have added better gas mileage, but that doesn’t seem to be true anymore. I think nowadays computers are better drivers than most manual driving humans.

As we move to more electric cars, transmissions won’t be an issue at all.

This. My current car is the first automatic I’ve owned, and I regret buying it. It has paddle shifters, but there is no appeal there for me.

There are fewer reasons now than there used to be – gas mileage is no longer better, I can manually put my automatic into the correct gear for going up or down a hill, and my Mazda CX-9 even has pretty good grade logic so I rarely have to change what it’s doing on a hill. But driving a stick is still more fun, and I have a better connection to the car. I drive a lot because I (in normal times) have a long daily commute. If my drive can be more enjoyable, that means a lot. Even though my commute involves some heavy traffic, getting an automatic was not worth it for me.

I’m planning on buying a 2021 Bronco. It has a manual option, which I’m leaning towards, but if you get the bigger engine, that requires the 10-speed (!) automatic. The “Sasquatch” off-road package also requires the automatic, because of some of the super-nifty traction control options. So, as much as I would like to have a stick again, I may just give up and get the automatic.

Three out of the only four vehicles I bought new had manual transmissions. On each one, the purchase price savings over an automatic were significant. The MPG ratings were a bit higher, too, and the published performance specs for the Hyundai were significantly better for the manual trans version. Two were little hatchbacks and one was a Ford Ranger. Little cars are just more fun to drive with stick shifts.

As an aside, the Ranger is a 2009 and it has less than 50,000 miles on it. I come from an age when cars were for daily riding and traveling, while trucks were used to haul things. I just don’t get why so many people get huge trucks as their daily drivers and never use them to haul anything.

I’ve owned three 240-Z’s and a WRX with manuals, and that’s the only transmission you want in a car like that, where the whole point to the car is driving engagement and fun. I love driving stick in a car like this.

I also have a Ford Escape for daily driving, and there’s no way I’d want a manual in a vehicle like that. Modern auto transmissions do pretty much everything better now unless you are a pro driver on a racetrack. They just aren’t much fun. But neither is a stick when you are in stop and go traffic, or tooling along a crowded road.

So for commuting, auto all the way. For the sheer fun of driving, nothing beats a stick.