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  • 5 'Utes You Didn't Know You Could Get With a Manual Transmission

5 'Utes You Didn't Know You Could Get With a Manual Transmission

Carlos LagoApr 23, 2010
The life of the manual transmission may seem fleeting, but we're not writing an epitaph yet. Sure, the Italian thoroughbreds like Ferrari and Lamborghini are receding from the row-your-own style, yet every single major automaker in the U.S. still offers standard transmissions, sometimes as the sporty pick, but often as the budget model.
The manual transmission remains plenty available in the market, and sometimes in the most unexpected places. To wit, how about three SUVs and a minivan? Or an upcoming Buick? Forget enthusiasts’ cars. Chances are your neighbor's "boring" mid-size sedan is available with a six-speed and a clutch, too.
We scoured the lineups of the biggest automakers in North America to find the most peculiar offerings. Then we found out the percentage of said offerings actually sold with a manual, and the take rate. And then we calculated some rather surprising odds. Here are our findings.
Sources: Respective automakers' 2010 sales data; "Life: The Odds: And How to Improve Them" by Gregory Baer; www.Veegle.com; Golf Digest; MSNBC; www.NSC.org
Hyundai Tucson GLS
Drivetrain: 6-speed, front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.4L/176-170-hp/168-163 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Price: $19,790
Photo 8/30
If a manual Tucson does one thing well, it's that it brings the entry price to under $20,000. Aside from the financial benefit, the gearbox actually worsens fuel economy by 1 mpg city and highway, despite a 20-pound weight savings over automatic-equipped models. That, coupled with the fact that it's only available on front-drive models, might help to explain the teensy 1.5 percent take rate.
The 2011 Santa Fe, which is available with the same powertrain, also boasts a six-speed manual. Like the Tucson, the manual Santa Fe also returns worse fuel mileage, though at a $1300 discount.
Photo 9/30
Take rate: 1.5 percent
Odds of a Tucson manual being sold: 21,102 to 1
Odds of someone in the film industry winning an Academy Award: 11,500 to 1
Mazda5
Drivetrain: 5-speed, front-drive
Engine: 2.3-liter/153-hp/148 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Price: $18,745
Photo 13/30
Yes, really. The Mazda5, which is often known as "that-minivan-lookin'-whatchamacallit thing," comes with a stick. The five-speed saves $1440 off the cover price and returns 1 mpg better fuel economy city and highway. Downside? It's only available with the entry "Sport" trim, meaning you can't combine it with leather and a navigation system.
At the 2010 Geneva auto show, Mazda unveiled the next generation of the Mazda5 with a six-speed and two engine options. Those in Europe and Japan will enjoy what they know as the Premacy with either a 1.8-liter or a 2.0-liter gas engine with stop-start. But Mazda isn't ready to say what engine or transmission is heading to our shores.
Photo 14/30
Take rate: 6 percent
Odds of a Mazda5 manual being sold: 8131 to 1
Odds of being considered possessed by a Satanic force in the U.S.: 7000 to 1
Porsche Cayenne; Cayenne GTS
Drivetrain: 6-speed, all-wheel drive
Engines: 3.6L/290-hp/273 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 4.8L/405-hp/396 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8
Price: $46,475; $73,375
Photo 18/30
In rare showing, at least for this list, the manual Cayenne is the least expensive model, faster than the automatic, and doesn’t take a fuel economy hit. (The performance-oriented GTS model claims likewise for the first two, but suffers a slight fuel economy penalty.)
The base Cayenne is 20 pounds lighter and 0.4 seconds faster to 60 mph with its six-speed manual, says Porsche. The same goes for the stick-equipped GTS, which, with its 405-horse V-8, will reach the same benchmark speed in 5.7 seconds.
Photo 19/30
An updated Cayenne is coming in 2011, but no manual option has appeared for the V-8 yet. The automatic, the Tiptronic S, bumps its gear count to eight, but the automatic retains a 0.3-second lead in 0-62 mph acceleration.
Take rate: 1.3 percent; 7.2 percent
Odds of a Cayenne, standard or GTS, manual being sold: 37,761 to 1
Odds of you turning 50 years old today: 37,888 to 1
Photo 20/30
Subaru Outback
Drivetrain: 6-speed, all-wheel drive
Engine: 2.5L/170-hp/170 lb-ft SOHC 16-valve F-4
Price: $23,690
Photo 21/30
Just about every vehicle in Subaru's lineup offers a manual transmission (the Tribeca is the sole outlier). In the case of the Outback, our 2010 Sport Utility of the Year, the manual is the cure for that endless whirr the optional CVT forces upon the engine. The six-speed shaves both 100 pounds and $1000 from the Lineartronic gearbox, though fuel economy falls by 3 and 2 mpg city/highway.
Sharing the stable, and Outback's 2.5-liter flat-four, is the Forester. Its five-speed manual comes with a $1200 discount and 1 mpg better highway economy. The downside? You can't pair the manual with the 224-horse, turbo engine unless you’re optioning an Impreza or a Legacy.
Photo 22/30
Take rate: 10 percent
Odds of a manual Outback being sold: 1320 to 1
Odds of that an American lives in a household that earns over $2 million per year: 825 to 1
Volkswagen Tiguan
Drivetrain: 6-speed, front-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0L/200-hp/207 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4
Price: $24,000
Photo 26/30
What's true for the turbo 2.0-liter Audi is true for Volkswagen. Meaning you can spec a Tiguan, VW's compact crossover, with a six-speed manual -- just like a GTI. The manual saves you $1100 and boosts fuel economy by 1 mpg city and 2 mpg highway over the automatic. Unlike the GTI, the Tiguan doesn’t offer the efficient twin-clutch transmission.
Of course, the take rate is miniscule -- VW has sold 87 manual Tiguans 2010 year-to-date -- but don't fret. If there's but one indication that the manual lives, it's that the GTI, even with its optional almighty twin-clutch gearbox, still sells predominately (over 50 percent) with a manual transmission.
Photo 27/30
Take rate: 1.8 percent
Odds of a Tiguan manual being sold: 29,065 to 1
Odds of being injured by a toilet this year: 10,000 to 1

2015 Hyundai Tucson Specifications

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Fair Market Price $20,945
MSRP $21,650
Editors' Overall Rating
Mileage 23 City / 29 Highway
Engine 2.0L I4
Horse Power 164 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 151 ft lb of torque @ 4,000 rpm
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MSRP: $21,650
Mileage: 23 / 29
Engine: 2.0L I4
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