Save the Manuals

Cars.com survey reveals surprising facts about manual transmissions

The Volkswagen Jetta is one of the models still sold with a manual transmission.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

It's National Stick Shift Day and while that has little consequence for a large swath of the population, there are still a fair amount of passionate manual transmission advocates out there.

According to Edmunds, in 2020 just 41 of the 327 new car models 13 percent) sold in the U.S. is offered with a manual transmission. A decade ago, 37 percent were sold with that style transmission. Why? Simply put, the demand isn't there so automakers have stopped selling them. Also, automatic transmissions have gotten better generally offering better fuel economy than manuals.

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata The Mazda MX-5 Miata is famously sold with a six-speed manual transmission.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Cars.com recently surveyed 500 adults to find out more about their history with the manual transmission and current driving habits.

Sixty percent of women and 84 percent of men surveyed said that they know how to drive a manual transmission. Most learned to drive it when they were young. Twelve percent learned before they were 15, 36 percent when they were high school aged, and 18 percent when they were college aged. Thirteen percent learned when they were over 40.

Moms are generally not the ones teaching manual transmission driving lessons. Thirty-seven percent were taught by their dad and 21 percent responded that a friend taught them or they were self-taught. Seventeen percent were taught by a driving instructor.

Most of the models offered with a manual transmission come from companies that produce products designed to be sold in Europe as well as the U.S. Five- and six-speeds are more popular across the pond. However, the influx of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles as a result of government regulation may be having the percentage of manual transmission drivers decreasing.

In the U.S., 23 percent of those surveyed that said they drive a manual transmission car own a BMW. Eleven percent drive a manual Toyota while nine percent were with Honda. Six percent of the audience drove a Ford or an Audi.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Ford Motor Company will recall about 3 million vehicles as part of the Takata airbag recall.

Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Following the denial of a 2017 petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 3 million vehicles, a move that will cost the company an estimated $610 million, according to internal estimates.

The petition is part of the larger Takata airbag recall and specifically involves the defect of phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate in the driver-side air bag inflators that Takata manufactured with a calcium sulfate desiccant. Ford wasn't the only recipient of the defective inflators. Mazda also utilized the parts.

The list of impacted Ford vehicles ranges from the 2006 to 2012 model years. They include Ford Ranger (2007-2011), Fusion (2006-2012), Edge (2007-2010), Lincoln MKZ/Zephyr (2006-2012), MKX (2007-2010), and Mercury Milan (2006-2011). Approximately 2.7 million of those vehicles are in the U.S. and 300,000 are in Canada.

Mazda is also part of the recall, with 5,848 vehicles effected by the inflator issue. Those models are 2007-2009 B-Series pickup trucks, which were built on the same platform using the same air bag inflators as the 2007-2011 Ford Ranger.

Late last year, the NHTSA ordered General Motors to recall 7 million trucks and SUVs after a four-year back-and-forth battle over whether or not the Takata air bag recall was absolutely necessary for GM products. The models recalled as part of this action are "GMT900" models that contain "SPI YP" and "PSPI-L YD" inflator variants. The GMT900 is a General Motors-specific platform that underpins a number of light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks and SUVs including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade EXT. The petition involves approximately 5.9 million model year 2007–2014 vehicles.

2014 Chevrolet Suburban The 2014 Chevrolet Suburban is one of the models NHTSA recently ruled needed to be recalled. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

In early 2020, 10 million vehicles were recalled after having their original equipment replaced with new versions of the same thing with the same design and chemistry rather than newly designed parts.

The Takata airbag recalls are part of the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. It involves more than 67 million vehicles to date.

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The Ford F-Series Super Duty is a potent pickup.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For many, a pickup truck is as much a daily drivable vehicle as it is a tool for getting the job done. How much horsepower and torque a powertrain puts out is a big part of that. Most want enough to get the job done while keeping an eye toward fuel economy.

What's the difference between horsepower and torque? In simple terms, torque is the pull of the powertrain that gets you off the line from a full stop. Horsepower is what gets you going the speed you want and keeps you there.

Diesel engines tend to have more torque than gasoline-powered engines but have less horsepower. There's no perfect torque to horsepower ratio. It's all about which combination works best for you.

The engines on this list have the highest amount of horsepower and are available in 2021 model year pickup trucks in the U.S. See the 2020 horsepower champs by clicking here and the 2020 torque winners by clicking here.

No. 5 (tie) - 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: 6.2-liter V8

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Seven different engines are available in the 2021 Silverado 1500 range, any of which provides strong payload and towing capabilities. The range-topping gas engine is the real showstopper, however, as the 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers are good enough to help the truck deliver a 13,300-pound towing capacity and a 2,060-pound payload rating.

No. 5 (tie) - 2021 GMC Sierra 1500: 6.2-liter V8

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Carbon Pro

Photo courtesy of GMC

Like its Chevy brother, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 has an available 6.2-liter V8 that achieves 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. It has a 2,000-pound payload rating and a 11,800-pound trailering capacity.

No. 4 - 2021 Ford F-150: PowerBoost hybrid powertrain

2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

430 horsepower

Ford's brand-new hybrid F-150 hits the market in 2021 and will bring some legitimate power numbers to back up its high-tech fuel system. The PowerBoost hybrid powertrain uses a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 with electric motors to produce a strong 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque.

No. 3 (tie) - 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: 6.6-liter Duramax diesel

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

445 horsepower

Diesel engines are usually best known for their torque delivery, but Chevrolet is offering a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel in the 2021Silverado 2500 HD that defies the tradition. It makes 445 horsepower and a whopping 910 pound-feet of torque, which allows the Chevy truck to tow up to 18,500 in certain configurations.

No. 3 (tie) - 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD: 6.6-liter Duramax diesel

2021 GMC Sierra 2500 HD\u200b

Photo courtesy of GMC

445 horsepower

The engine in the GMC Sierra 2500 HD is the same as in the Silverado 2500 HD. It produces the same 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque from the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel that's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It can tow up to 18,150 pounds.

No. 2 - 2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty: 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8

2021 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

475 horsepower

The 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 that powers the top-of-the-line trucks in Ford's F-Series Super Duty lineup produces 475 horsepower, but that's not even the most special thing about it. The Blue Oval has built a diesel engine to dominate the towing and payload wars, and as a result it produces 475 horsepower and 1,050 pound-feet of torque.

No. 1 - 2021 Ram 1500 TRX: 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8

2021 Ram 1500 TRX

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

702 horsepower

There's no competition here. The Ram 1500 TRX is far and away the most powerful truck on the market today – or any other day, for that matter. The 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 that powers the 2021 TRX produces 702 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, and makes the Ram the most powerful and fastest mass-produced truck in the world. All of that power helps the truck deliver an 8,100-pound towing capacity and a zero to 60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds.

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