Manual Transmissions Fading Out of Midsize Sedan Lineups

2012 Subaru Legacy

Soon a majority of mainstream midsize sedans will have standard automatic transmissions and no manual transmission option.

It's been a long time coming. The stick shift has stuck around longer on midsize sedans than on other body styles, probably due to the broad appeal of the segment; these cars still make up the most vehicle sales in the U.S. The manual-transmission option also allowed marketing departments to advertise the highest fuel-efficiency figures and the lowest base prices, which were usually found on the manual-equipped models.

But automatic transmissions have become more efficient, and sometimes they deliver better gas mileage than their manual-transmission cousins. The automatic-equipped 2012 Subaru Legacy gets 26 mpg combined while the manual gets 22 mpg, for instance.

Although automatic-equipped cars usually cost about $1,000 more than their manual-transmission counterparts, so few people are opting for the shift thrower that carmakers are abandoning the option. The latest to do so was Hyundai. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata is no longer offered with a manual transmission. This has raised the car's base price by $1,100 and docked 1 mpg from its fuel-economy rating in city driving, but few people were opting for the manual, according to Hyundai. Of the 225,961 Sonatas sold last year, just 1,725 had a manual transmission, said Miles Johnson, Hyundai's product public relations manager.

Of the 13 mainstream midsize sedans available today, six can have a manual transmission. When the 2013 Ford Fusion comes out, the manual-transmission option will be dropped from the base model, but it will be kept it for its fuel-efficient 1.6-liter four-cylinder powertrain, according to the carmaker.

Overall, the industry's average take rate for vehicles equipped with a manual transmission has hovered around 4% of total new-car sales for the past couple of years, according to the Detroit Free Press. The figure was 8.5% just a decade ago.


Current Models

Manual Transmission Option

Manual Transmission Last Available (MY)

Chevrolet Malibu

No

N/A

Chrysler 200

No

2004 (Sebring)

Dodge Avenger

No

2004 (Stratus)

Ford Fusion

Yes

 

Honda Accord sedan

Yes

 

Hyundai Sonata sedan

No

2012

Kia Optima

Yes

 

Mazda6

Yes

 

Mitsubishi Galant

No

1998

Nissan Altima sedan

No

2008

Subaru Legacy

Yes

 

Toyota Camry

No

2011

Volkswagen Passat

Yes

 

Related
New Best Bets — Passenger Cars 
New Midsize Sedans 
What's the Most Affordable Midsize Sedan?

Comments 

Skankzilla

I lost interest long ago when they stopped offering the manual transmission with the most powerful engine. Such as the Mazda6 V6 or Camry V6.

M

I had a '99 Maxima SE with a manual. That was probably my favorite car to date. That car was almost indestructable. It's just more engaging to shift rather than just sit there and drive. Hopefully Nissan will bring back the Altima SE-R

Max Reid

It does not make sense to make Manual just for 4% of the sales. Instead they can add more efficient CVT in the lineup. Nissan has almost all vehicles on CVT while Toyota's Hybrids use CVT.

Bye bye manual.

WTF

Manuals supposedly made up 50% of Mazda6 V6 sales but they still made the decision to remove it from the V6 on this current generation. Look where they stand now.

Max Reid

Electric cars and Plugins have only 1 speed tranny. In the future, motor will drive the wheels and engine will just act as generator.

So get ready to say good by to manual tranny.

WTF : Mazda - I believe is phasing out V6 itself like many other models like Malibu & Fusion, Escape & Equinox.

Nick

It's sad to see the manual gone from most cars. A lot of people were taught to use a stick when they were kids, it was the norm and it was fun. Don't understand why people don't want a stick today. Lazy? Gas mileage? Whatever it is, the stick was a blast.

RB

What about reliability and cost of repairs down the road comparisons? It is well known that the simplicity of manual transmission lends to significantly cheaper transmission repair costs.

http://www.manualversusautomatic.com

Rj

the car makers should realize by now. Only car enthusiasts will want a manual trans. these days. The higher output engines are the one's that would increase the sales of manuals, not the cheap versions. It really SUCKS that my only option, under $30k, are stipped down cars or used.

Robin

It's funny, other day Ranger stalled at a light and suffered some senser issue and wouldn't start - cranked through 3 traffic light cycles before putting it in reverse, letting the truck roll backward about 30 feet, popped the clutch and Vroom! Try that in an automatic. Besides driving should be participatory sport not a spectator one, why let the auto tranny have a the fun?

md

Two words: "stopping distance"

I ALWAYS push in the clutch when I hit my brakes.

An automatic transmission is still engaged and pushing you forward, even when you hit the brake. The stopping distance can only be greater.

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