Stick Shift

Stick shift (Photo by Alok Sharma on Unsplash)

In the automotive realm, enthusiasts and purists alike appreciate the art of driving, and few things capture that essence more than a manual transmission. Embracing the manual shift experience, the world of stick shift cars continues to captivate drivers with its unique blend of control and connection to the road. In this article, we delve into the realm of the best stick shift cars, celebrating the thrill of rowing through gears and the joy of mastering the manual gearbox.

Regarding road safety, manual vehicles’ attentiveness might make for less distracted driving. Automatic vehicle drivers can easily tune out while behind the wheel, which could lead to danger on the road. In fact, a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. drivers has revealed that more than a quarter of Americans are “zombie drivers.” In all, 27 percent of respondents admitted to “zoning out” while driving, and 55 percent said they often feel like they are driving on autopilot. On average, drivers said they zone out about four times per week, which happens more often during longer drives.

Another study of teenage drivers found that all teens, regardless of gender, were prone to risky behaviors like cellphone use and speeding while driving. Among studied teen drivers, speeding occurred during roughly 40 percent of trips, while handheld phone use was noted in just over 30 percent of driving instances. Even worse, teens used a cellphone while speeding during five percent of studied trips.

So, whether you’re in the market for a stick shift vehicle for the love of the ride, as a way to promote conscious driving habits, or for another reason entirely, there are plenty of options available. While stick shift is becoming less common on the whole, there are still several models that can be purchased new off the lot with a manual transmission. And as an added bonus, they are often slightly cheaper to both buy and repair!

With plenty of choices to sift through, it may feel challenging to identify the right model to meet your needs. StudyFinds did the research for you and searched 10 expert websites for reviews on the best stick shift cars. This list includes the top recommendations, but of course, if you have a favorite that we didn’t include, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Happy teens driving in car, dancing to music
A group of friends in the car (© BalanceFormCreative – stock.adobe.com)

The List: Best Stick Shift Cars, According to Experts

 

1. Subaru BRZ

Subaru BRZ
2023 Subaru BRZ (subaru.com)

If you’re in the market for a truly versatile vehicle, the Subaru BRZ is sure to tick all your boxes. With great performance, an enjoyable driving experience, and an affordable price tag all wrapped up in a compact and attractive package, it’s a car that has something for everyone. Luxatic says that the Japanese engineers behind Subaru design the BRZ for stability and precision. They also mention the classic thrill that comes with the manual driving experience in this car.

Even better, you won’t have to pay extra for a great manual transmission. HiConsumption loves how a six-speed manual transmission is what comes as the standard with the BRZ. They write, “With its 205hp boxer engine, sport-tuned suspension, and low center of gravity, the BRZ has been widely heralded as one of the most driver-forward cars in recent memory.”

According to TrueCar, the BRZ is fast, easy to handle, reasonably priced, and fun to drive. They like how it is “engaging yet comfortable enough to drive everyday.”

2. Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX
2023 Subaru WRX (subaru.com)

Our second spot goes to another Subaru, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the company’s sturdy and reliable vehicles. The WRX is no exception, with plenty of premium features packed into its affordable price tag. TrueCar calls it “one of the most entertaining sedans in its class thanks to its rally racing heritage, potent power, and sports-car handling.”

Stick shift driving is possible with the WRX for no extra cost, but that doesn’t mean it offers anything less than a top-notch driving experience. Along with a six-speed manual transmission in the base model, MotorBiscuit says you also get all-wheel drive, impressive horsepower, and a customizable suspension.

“Standard аll-wheel-drive, six-speed manual transmission as the only option and a 2 liter turbo 4 cylinder with no less than 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, that’s the Subaru WRX,” says Luxatic. “Count in the other features of this model like upgraded differentials, steering and suspension tuning and Brembo brakes and you’ve got yourself a fun car to drive around.”

3. Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang
2023 Ford Mustang (ford.com)

This well-known vehicle is a favorite of many lovers of the classics. Perhaps that explains the excitement for the new and improved manual Ford Mustang. As HiConsumption says, “fans of the classic pony car rejoice — almost every version in the range comes with the option for a six-speed manual, no matter the engine option or roof configuration.”

An old favorite that has only improved with age, the Mustang offers plenty of power that makes for a consistently enjoyable driving experience. Luxatic says to expect a “2.3L 4 cylinder engine capable of 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.”

TrueCar adds that since 1960, the Ford Mustang has continued to be a classic among car enthusiasts. They also call it a “special bargain” for the incredible performance that comes with it.

4. Ford Bronco

2023 Ford Bronco SUV
2023 Ford Bronco SUV (ford.com)

The Ford Bronco has received a facelift, bringing the beloved classic into the 21st century with plenty of exciting upgrades. But even with all the modern touches, the option for a great manual transmission hasn’t gone anywhere. According to Gear Patrol, “Ford revived the Bronco lineage to great fanfare. And the new SUV lived up to the hype.”

Although it has adapted to modern style over the year, Top Speed says their old-school flare is preserved with the option of a manual system. They add, Available exclusively with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo engine that makes 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, the seven-speed manual unit is a fun and involving addition to the Bronco’s arsenal and is a significant step up in driver involvement and feedback when compared to the standard 10-speed automatic.”

HiConsumption says this model is also great for off-roading due to its ultra-low range granny gear to the left of first gear. 

5. Honda Civic

2023 Honda Civic
2023 Honda Civic (automobiles.honda.com)

Perhaps one of the most recognizable vehicles in the United States, the Honda Civic is a symbol of reliability, safety, and durability. And this classic vehicle stays true to its history by continuing to give drivers the ability to opt in to a stick shift. TrueCar says the Civic “delivers economy, reliability, comfort, and safety among its many virtues. But the ‘secret sauce‘ that separates it from most other compact cars is that it provides more driving enjoyment than basic low-cost transportation.”

But the Civic does more than just offer the choice between manual or automatic transmission. Buyers of a manual Civic have tons of options for their preferred driving experience, with stick shift offered in multiple models. The range includes Sport, Sport Touring, and Type R.

You’re sure to get what you pay for (if not more) with the newest line of Civics. “One of Honda’s best selling models, the new Civic comes with a row-your-own gearbox in several of its flavors. It’s a six speed manual that you’ll have to pay extra for, because the base model doesn’t have it, but you’ll get a lot for the buck,” says Luxatic. “And with the R’s 306 horsepower 2.0L turbo beast, it’s more than perfect.”

You might also be interested in:

Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

About Anna Landry

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor