Years back, it was easy to find vehicles with manual transmissions. Most models had a budget-friendly manual-transmission option that many people chose for fuel economy. In modern times, automatic transmissions are more fuel-efficient, and people who know how to drive a manual and choose that type of transmission are declining.
You might think that only sports cars aimed at enthusiasts would come with manual transmissions today, and while they do, other non-enthusiast rides still allow you to row your own gears. For anyone looking for a vehicle, be it a car or SUV with a manual transmission, this list runs down some of the coolest rides available today with three pedals. This list is in no particular order.
BMW is still making sports cars with three pedals, and among the most popular of its builds are the M3 and M4. Both of these rides can be had with a manual or automatic, but they’re among the more pricey options on the list. A basic BMW M3 Sedan starts at $69,900 and quickly goes up from there, depending on options. Anyone looking for the M3 Competition xDrive version will start at $76,900.
BMW’s M4 Coupe starts at $71,800 and goes all the way up to $78,800 for the Competition xDrive. These rides offer between 473 horsepower and 503 horsepower, depending on the configuration, with 0 to 60 MPH times ranging from 4.1 seconds to 3.8 seconds. Unfortunately for the current model year, BMW has a rather controversially styled front end with massive grill openings that some fans dislike.
Nissan Versa S
Anyone who remembers the Nissan Versa from years past probably remembers a cheap car that offered good fuel economy with rather unattractive styling. That all changed in 2020 when Nissan completely redesigned the Versa, turning it into a very attractive car that is still quite affordable with excellent fuel economy.
While most versions of the Versa come with an Xtronic CVT transmission, the basic Versa S can be had with a five-speed manual. It’s one of the most affordable vehicles in the country, starting at $14,980. For the price, not only do you get to row your own gears, but you also get automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking. You could buy five Nissan Versa S cars for the price of one BMW M4.
Mazda is a more premium brand today, even though you don’t see many of them on the highway. The 2021 Mazda3 Premium hatchback starts at $28,000 and can be had in front-wheel-drive with a 6-speed manual transmission.
Interestingly, the all-wheel-drive version is only available with the automatic, and all other trim levels only come in automatic. Starting at $28,000, it’s a more expensive but still affordable car offering 186 horsepower and 186 pound-foot of torque. As we mentioned before, the manual transmission gives up fuel economy, with the all-wheel-drive automatic offering more miles per gallon.
In the city, the manual version gets 24 MPG compared to the automatic all-wheel-drive getting 25 MPG. The automatic front-wheel-drive gets 26 MPG in the city. Fuel economy between the transmission options is close, and odds are the average driver wouldn’t notice a difference between the manual and the automatic.
Anyone looking for an SUV with off-road chops will be familiar with the Jeep Wrangler. Most Wrangler trims are available with a six-speed manual transmission. Off-road enthusiasts often choose the manual transmission because they like the control it gives them on the trails.
The Wrangler certainly isn’t an inexpensive SUV, but all of them come with four-wheel drive and are capable of hitting the trails right off the showroom floor. Jeep offers the Wrangler in two-door or four-door versions. The most affordable is the Wrangler Sport, with the two-door starting at $29,070 and the four-door starting at $32,570.
The most expensive Wrangler is the Rubicon 392, featuring a big V-8 engine under the hood starting at $74,640, but it’s only available with the eight-speed automatic. However, you can get the normal Rubicon with a Manual transmission starting at $43,265 for the four-door version.
A new and very popular competitor to the Jeep Wrangler is the Ford Bronco. Like the Wrangler, the Bronco can be had with a manual transmission. The Base Ford Bronco starts at $29,300, including standard 4 x 4 and 7-speed manual transmission in the two-door model.
That manual transmission is standard on the Base, Big Bend, Black Diamond, and Badlands trim levels. If you step up to the four-door version, it starts at $33,450, and the manual is available in the same trim levels as the two-door. Unfortunately, the Ford Bronco has proven so popular that it is next to impossible to get one and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Those who do find one at a Ford dealership are likely to pay massive markups.
We expect a manual transmission to turn up in a muscle car or sports car, and Ford doesn’t disappoint. The Ford Mustang has always been available with a manual transmission, and the current generation offers a six-speed manual.
The manual transmission can be had in the V8-powered GT or the EcoBoost-powered version. The only Mustang that doesn’t offer a manual transmission is the high-end Shelby GT500 and the Mach-E GT (which enthusiasts hardly count as a Mustang). The EcoBoost Fastback starts at $27,205, while the cheapest GT fastback starts at $36,285, both featuring the six-speed manual transmission. The Mustang Mach 1 starts at $53,400 with the standard six-speed manual transmission.
Those looking for a very inexpensive commuter car with a manual transmission won’t find anything cheaper than the 2022 Chevrolet Spark. The LS Manual features a 1.4-liter four-cylinder Eco-Tech engine backed with a five-speed manual transmission. The car starts at $14,595.
Chevy also offers a manual option for the 1LT version starting from $16,495, and the Activ manual version starts at $17,595. The 2LT with a manual starts at $17,995. The Spark is one of the cheapest new cars in the country, and its price is often less than a used vehicle. However, its diminutive size and styling aren’t for everyone.
Subaru offers manual transmissions in several of its vehicles, including some of its crossovers. One of the most popular manual transmission models Subaru makes is the iconic WRX. The base model 2021 WRX with a six-speed manual starts at $28,420.
The hotter WRX STI starts at $37,245. However, the six-speed manual used in STI models is a close-ratio unit. Aside from the STI version, Subaru does offer CVT automatics as well. One caveat with Subaru is if you choose a manual transmission, you can’t get its EyeSight safety system.
This list runs down some of the vehicles available in 2021 with manual transmissions. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, with several other manual transmission cars, SUVs, and trucks available. For some people, a manual transmission is the only way to go, while for others, it’s simply a way to get the vehicle’s purchase price down as low as possible.
Whatever the reason you’re looking for a vehicle with a manual transmission, we hope people buy them. If the manual transmission option isn’t popular enough, we could see them disappear in many models and we’d hate to see that happen.