By Andy Lilienthal
In my 21 years of legal driving ability, I have never owned a car equipped with an automatic transmission. Yes, there was the 1979 Honda Civic 1200 with the Hondamatic two-speed, but you technically had to shift it from first into second. Plus, it was a winter beater. Plus, it was awesome.
I've never been tempted to own something without a manual transmission. Perhaps I've unfairly labeled all cars with an automatic mundane. Clearly, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW M6, and Jaguar F-Type S I've driven are all totally lame. But could they have been more entertaining with a manual transmission? I mean, are all vehicles instantly more fun with a stick shift?
Scion iQ, that bastion of city car tininess that has been discontinued by Toyota's youth-like division. I've always kind of liked them, and even thought about getting one. The CVT is the only transmission available. If it did come with a five-speed manual, like it does in other markets, I would likely already have one. Regardless, I've never even considered owning an automatic on another car.
So many vehicles—94%—are sold with automatics in the U.S. I love the look of the new 2016 Kia Rio SX Five Door, but it's only available with an auto. Nope. I totally dig the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, but it only comes in an auto. Ain't gonna happen. The Nissan Juke is pretty entertaining, and the Nismo version has amazing seats! Can't do it (plus Mercedes (my wife, not the company ... but maybe the company too?) hates them). I can get a Toyota Yaris SE with a manual transmission, just not in my region. The struggle is real.
But as more and more cars only come with a point-and-shoot option, perhaps I won't have a choice in the near future? I used to jokingly say that I'd gladly own a car with an automatic transmission ... if I lost my left leg in an accident. But is it really imperative to own a manual? Sometimes I feel like that guy who only buys carbureted cars because they're "easy to work on," or that ever-shrinking segment of folks who only buy cars available with manual windows. ("It's just one less thing to break ...")
I guess I have to truly ask myself: Are cars with manual transmissions really that much more fun to drive, or am I drinking my own Kool-Aid and I've convinced myself of it? I don't really know. Maybe I need to live with an automatic car for more than a week at a time. Hmm ... there are a few iQ models on the market ...