Row Your Own
If it’s not a diesel-powered, rear-wheel-drive station wagon with a manual transmission, it’s not worth considering, let alone buying.
If the world’s motoring press ran things that’s exactly what we’d all have parked in our garages. And while oil-burning grocery-getters do offer a compelling combination of function and fun, they don’t appeal to everyday Americans like they do to automotive journalists.
Normal drivers don’t necessarily appreciate the benefits of wagons and they may be oblivious to modern diesels, but one thing they certainly don’t want anything to do with is an “old-fashioned” standard transmission. The stick shift has been dying a slow death for decades, raped by technology and pillaged by a minuscule take rate. Once the current Gallardo bows out, Lamborghini won’t even offer one. Ferrari already doesn’t.
Engineers have relentlessly improved the now-ubiquitous slushbox, adding more gears, extra software and even multiple clutches for instantaneous shifts. They’ve succeeded masterfully in their mission because as disheartening as it is to car enthusiasts, many automatics are faster, smoother and, yes, even more fuel efficient than their manual counterparts.
But still, some cars are made for stick shifts the way cinnamon buns are built for icing. You can’t have something like a Mazda Miata without a manual. Well, you can, but you’re missing the point if you opt for a self-shifter. Unfortunately automakers just don’t get it. They build great products, some of which SCREAM at the top of their cylinders for standard-shift transmissions. Here are the Top 10 cars that should come with manuals but don’t.