Manual vs. Automatic Transmission: The Pros and Cons

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission: The Pros and Cons

Updated on April 23 2024

Back in the not-so-olden days of motoring, new vehicles came with standard manual transmissions. Typically called the ‘stick shift,’ a manual car has three pedals and requires lots of practice to operate.

Three pedals = more fun?

On the other hand, many car buyers prefer an automatic transmission, and it’s easy to understand why. Automatics are more convenient and easier to operate. With only two pedals and no manual clutch, driving an automatic car is easier on the legs when you’re stuck in traffic.

Plus, the advent of CVTs or Continuously Variable Transmissions has made automatic-equipped vehicles more fuel-efficient than a comparable manual.

Two pedals = more convenience?

Both the manual and automatic have their respective pros and cons.  Here are the things to keep in mind when choosing a manual versus an automatic car.

Manual Transmission: Pros and Cons

Pros

A. Manual cars are more engaging to drive.

B. The driver has complete control of the gear selection and when to shift.

C. Manual cars are typically more affordable than automatic vehicles.

D. In some cases, manual cars are more fuel-efficient, but CVTs are closing the gap.

E. Manual transmissions are easier to repair and are less expensive to service.

Cons

A. Manual cars have a steep learning curve and require practice to operate smoothly.

B. Manual vehicles are more difficult and tiresome to drive in stop-and-go traffic.

C. Manuals require precise control to prevent the vehicle from stalling when driving on hilly roads.

D. The number of modern cars for sale with a manual gearbox is dwindling.

Automatic Transmission: Pros and Cons

Pros

A. Automatic cars are easier and more convenient to drive in heavy traffic.

B. Most automatics have shiftable and virtual gears that the driver can control.

C. Automatic-equipped vehicles shift quicker and are smoother than a manual.

D. When equipped with a CVT, automatic cars deliver better fuel economy.

Cons

A. Automatic cars will usually have a higher purchase price than a manual.

B. Equipped with more moving parts and a bevy of electronics, automatics are expensive to repair.

C. Depending on the driver, automatics are less engaging than a manual.

Manual vs. Automatic: Which is Better?

It depends on the driver and the type of vehicle. If you’re searching for a practicar, an automatic will offer better convenience in your daily travels. But if you have a fun-to-drive sports car like a Toyota 86 or a Mazda MX-5, nothing comes close to a manual gearbox in terms of driving engagement.

Tell us, do you prefer a manual over an automatic car, or is it the other way around?