Believe it or not, the choice you make in a car transmission says a lot about who you are as a driver. Those that like a little more excitement behind the wheel often opt for a stick-shift vehicle while newer generations of drivers almost always go for an easy automatic ride, as we pointed out in our guide to configuring a vehicle. But in order to figure out if one transmission is actually better than the other, it’s important to understand why both still exist in the first place!
Manual transmissions have always provided more power than their automatic counterparts, offering greater acceleration speeds when going from 0-60MPH! The gear ratios and precise shifting available in a manual allows drivers to take full advantage of their vehicle’s horsepower, and that can be incredibly attractive to those that like a little excitement in their driving. Automatic transmissions don’t offer quite the same level of power, but if speed isn’t high on your list of priorities, then an automatic will work wonders.
The differences in fuel economy between manual gearboxes and automatic transmissions aren’t really that massive anymore, but manuals do tend to offer better mileage. That said, many cars today come with automatics that offer EPA ratings with only 1 or 2 MPG less than the same model outfitted with a stick-shift. Worth keeping in mind: Most manual drivers don’t even know how to use gear shifting to lower fuel cost, so an automatic still can come out the victor in this comparison.
City vs. Highway
Multi-tasking drivers and those that stick to city streets will benefit from an automatic transmission as all the gear work is taken care of for you! A manual requires working the clutch and a lot of shifting in traffic congestion, making it a much better choice for highway driving or off-roading. Bottom line: If you’re not comfortable with stick, then you’ll totally hate riding around the city in a standard.
What About the Engine?
If you want an engine that offers awesome power at both high and low revs (think V6 or V8), then an automatic car transmission is a great bet. However, should you opt for a ride with a smaller engine, standard is the way to go as it can handle slopes and hilly roads more effectively! The type of engine in a car is a huge factor when it comes to making a transmission choice, so it really is best to figure out what you’re looking for under the hood before making any major gearbox decision.
The Price is Right
Do a simple web search and you’ll come to find out that manual transmissions are a great option for people on a budget! There’s a few reasons why a vast majority of drivers in Europe and Asia choose stick over automatic, but one of them has a lot to do with dollar signs. Cars with manual transmissions not only offer better mileage (some even when turbocharged), but when it comes to shop repairs, their fixes tend to cost a lot less than automatic vehicles. Plus, manual models are almost always less expensive.
Think you’ve figured out what kind of driver you are? Check out all of your car transmission options with our free dealer cost report and find the vehicle that’s best for your lifestyle (and budget)!