Should you get an automatic or manual transmission?
For most people choosing between an automatic and manual transmission is an easy decision. Some people like driving a stick, and there’s no denying you can shave some money off the initial cost of your vehicle by choosing manual, especially if the base model doesn’t offer an automatic option. Ultimately you’re the one who will be driving your vehicle day after day, so should you get an automatic or manual transmission?
You’ve likely seen at least one movie in which someone is learning how to drive, and naturally the character always get violently brake happy or painfully grinds the gears. Even though there are many automatics on the market at a reasonable price, it seems inevitable these drivers will always be starting out driving a manual. If they’re as difficult as it looks, why do people even bother driving a stick? There’s actually a couple of reasons. One is that they typically cost less to start and they cost less to repair because they are much easier to work on. If you look at the 2015 VW Golf as an example, the starting MSRP of $17,995 is for the manual transmission. An automatic option isn’t even available in the Launch Edition, which means choosing the pricier S trim style—which also comes standard with a manual—and upgrading to an automatic transmission. Total extra costs? $2,400! That’s a lot of money you could be spending on fuel. This alone could make a manual worth it for some people, but these transmissions can also have better fuel economy, depending on how you drive, especially in older vehicles. Some drivers also simply like having control over the gear changes and feel it keeps them better focused.
Automatics are typically easier to drive because you don’t have to worry about a clutch. Manuals have more of a learning curve as drivers learn how to properly release the clutch and learn when to switch gears. Nobody likes the sound of grinding gears and stalling a vehicle at a stoplight can be fairly embarrassing. Automatics don’t require driver input, though there are automated manual transmission on the market that allow drivers to select gears without using the clutch. Notice the word “allow.” When it comes to urban driving and needing to switch gears constantly in high traffic areas, the feeling of control a manual provides is often not worth the hassle.
When it comes to choosing between manual versus automatic transmissions, the choice ends up being a personal one. Many people enjoy the feeling of control a manual gives, but for those who prefer more ease behind the wheel an automatic can be less difficult, and newer automatic transmissions have really closed the gap when it comes to fuel economy, sometimes even surpassing their manual counterparts.