Manual transmissions are regaining popularity even as the number of models offered with one shrinks. According to USA Today, vehicles with a stick shift will account for 6.5 percent of total sales in 2012 based on first-quarter data, a considerable increase from 2011's 3.8 percent and the most since 2006.

The trend of disappearing manuals is especially apparent in the light truck and SUV segment. It is no longer possible to get a half-ton truck with a manual, and in the three-quarter and one-ton segment, only the Ram 2500 and 3500 remain available with a stick.

On the SUV side, one example is the Ford Escape, which offered a manual on the base XLS model for 2012 but went automatic-only for the all-new 2013 model. Models that simply dropped the three-pedal option without an accompanying redesign include the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Hyundai Santa Fe. With its 2009 redesign, the Subaru Forester also dropped the manual transmission from its U.S. lineup, although the wagon-ish Outback still offers one. The Toyota RAV4 has not offered a manual in the U.S. since its 2006 redesign.

If you're a truck and SUV enthusiast looking for a model with DIY shifting, here are the 2012 models available with a manual transmission.

Chevrolet Colorado

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.9L/185-hp/190-b-ft I-4; 3.7L/242-hp/242-lb-ft I-5
Availability: Work Truck 2WD, 4WD
Price: $18,285 (2WD), $21,790 (4WD)

Unlike the bigger Silverado, which has gone full-auto across the board, the Colorado is still available with a shift-it-yourself transmission. The stick is available with both the base 185-hp, 2.9-liter I-5 and the available 3.7-liter, 242 hp I-5 (the optional 300-hp V-8 is auto-only). Unfortunately, opting for the stick limits you to the utilitarian Work Truck trim level and regular cab body style, but you do get the choice of two- or four-wheel drive. A new model is coming in 2014, but its engines and transmissions remain a mystery.

GMC Canyon

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.9L/185-hp/190-b-ft I-4; 3.7L/242-hp/242-lb-ft I-5
Availability: Work Truck 2WD
Price: $18,300

The Colorado's virtual twin mirrors its Bow Tie sibling's configurations, with the manual available only on the entry-level Work Truck trim with a regular cab. Unlike the Chevy, the GMC forces you to get the automatic if you want four-wheel drive.

Hyundai Tucson

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.0L/165-hp/146-lb-ft I-4
Availability: GL, FWD
Price: $19,970

The Hyundai Tucson offers a manual transmission only on the bare-bones GL trim level. That gets you a 165-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 and a five-speed manual, while the rest of the lineup gets a 176-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 and a six-speed automatic. The higher-trim models are available with all-wheel drive, plushier interiors, navigation, and other bells and whistles, but the GL's only standard features of note are keyless entry, power windows, and a satellite-ready audio system with an iPod connector.

Jeep Compass

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.0L/158-hp/141-lb-ft I-4; 2.4L/172-hp/165-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Sport
Price: $20,220 (4x2), $21,970 (4x4)

The Jeep Compass is not one of our favorite vehicles, especially in the shadow of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, but we're glad Jeep hasn't gone totally soft on us with its entry-level crossover. Unfortunately, unlike the Wrangler, the Compass does force you to settle for the entry Sport trim level to get the manual. But you do have a choice between a 158-hp 2.0-liter or 172-hp, 2.4-liter I-4.

Jeep Patriot

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.0L/158-hp/141-lb-ft I-4; 2.4L/172-hp/165-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Sport 4x2, 4x4, Latitude, Altitude (2.0, 4x2 only)
Price: $16,920 (4x2), $18,670 (4x4)

Think of the Patriot as a Compass wrapped in a more angular and traditional-looking package. The powertrain options and availability mirror that of its sleeker, urbanized sibling. Like the Compass, the 2.4-liter/manual combo is available with front- or all-wheel drive on the Sport trim level; all other trim levels with the 2.4 require the selection of the CVT. The 2.0-liter and manual combination is limited to the front-drive version.

Jeep Wrangler

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 3.6L/285-hp/260-lb-ft V-6
Availability: All
Price: $22,970 (Sport), $26,470 (Unlimited Sport)

The Wrangler stays true to its roots by offering a six-speed manual on both two-door and four-door Unlimited models. Unlike many of the over vehicles on this list, the manual is offered on all Wrangler trim levels, from the entry Sport to the top-of-the-line Rubicon. Although a case can be made for why an automatic is better for off-roading, we're glad Jeep still gives us a choice and doesn't force us into the hair-shirt trim level to get it.

Kia Sportage

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 2.4L/176-hp/168-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Base FWD
Price: $19,300

Like its Hyundai Tucson sibling, the Sportage limits you to the base trim level, which in this case is called just that -- Base. However, in keeping with Kia's reputation as the sportier of the two Korean brands, the Kia offers the manual with the larger 2.4-liter, 176-hp engine, and the transmission is a six-speed instead of the Tucson's five-cogger. If you want all-wheel drive, whoever, you're out of luck, as this combination is limited to front-wheel-drive models.

Mazda CX-5

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 2.0L/155-hp/150-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Sport, FWD
Price: $21,490

Of almost all the brands with a small crossover, we figured Mazda would be the most likely to offer a manual transmission option, and it does. But there are some caveats. It's offered only on the front-drive Sport models and though you can theoretically get a manual-transmission CX-5 with navigation, you'll be hard-pressed to find one sitting on a dealer lot.

Mini Countryman

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 1.6L/121-hp/114lb-ft I-4; 1.6L/181-hp/17-lb-ft turbocharged
Availability: All
Price: $22,950 (Cooper Countryman), $27,750 (Cooper S All4)

Some feared Mini was going soft and mainstream with the introduction of the Countryman compact SUV, but as anyone who has driven this model can attest, it oozes Mini's cheeky character. And Mini's notorious dizzying availability of custom configurations carries over to the Countryman and its transmission options. The six-speed manual available on all three trim levels with the naturally aspirated or turbocharged engine and FWD or AWD.

Nissan Frontier

Transmission: 5-speed, 6-speed
Engine: 2.5L/152-hp/171-lb-ft I-4, 4.0L/261-hp/281-lb-ft V-6
Availability: All except SL
Price: $19,835 - S 4x2, SV V-6 4x4 - $26,415

Nissan doesn't put nearly as many restrictions and conditions on your selection of a manual when it comes to the Frontier. You can get both the base four-cylinder and the optional V-6 with a choice of automatic or manual transmissions. On the four-banger, you get a five-speed, and on the V-6, you get a six-speed. You can also get the manual on all trim levels except the top-line SL in two- or four-wheel drive. The manual also has a slight fuel economy edge over the automatic, delivering 1 mpg better in the city and on the highway.

Nissan Juke

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 1.6L/188-hp/177-lb-ft turbocharged I-4
Availability: SV FWD, SL FWD
Price: $22,390 (SV), $24,710 (SL)

In somewhat of a break from other small crossovers, the Juke offers a manual only on the higher trim levels -- the base S model is CVT-only. Like many of the others, however, the manual is limited to front-drive models.

Nissan Xterra

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 4.0L/261-hp/281-lb-ft V-6
Availability: S, Pro-4X, 4WD only
Price: $29,025 (S), $31,195 (Pro-4X)

Unlike the Pathfinder, which has gone soft and crossover, the Xterra continues to ride on a modified Frontier chassis complete with rear leaf-spring suspension. Unlike some of the other entries on this list, the six-speed manual transmission is only available with four-wheel drive. Like the Wrangler and the FJ Cruiser, the 4x4 Xterra also gets a traditional two-speed transfer case with low range.

Ram 2500/3500

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 6.7L/350-hp/650-lb-ft turbodiesel I-6
Availability: ST, SLT, Lone Star, Outdoorsman, Big Horn, Laramie
Price: $37,650 (4x2 ST Regular Cab Long Bed), $40,625 (4x4 ST Regular Cab Long Bed)

If you still like to pretend you're an over-the-road long-haul trucker but don't have a Class A license, the Ram 2500 and 3500 might be the truck for you. The only full-size trucks still available with a manual transmission, both flavors of Ram HD offer a stick with the Cummins 6.7-liter turbodiesel I-6 (the gasoline-powered Hemi V-8 is auto-only). You do sacrifice some 150 lb-ft of torque by going for the stick, as the manual Cummins is rated at 650 lb-ft while the automatic puts out 800 lb-ft, but thanks to the ample aftermarket support for the Cummins, making up that torque deficit and then some is probably not much more than a re-flash away. Just be prepared to sacrifice the Ram's 5-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty when you do so.

Subaru Outback

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 2.5L/170-hp/170-lb-ft H-4
Availability: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium
Price: $24,370 (2.5i), $25,870 (2.5i Premium)

As noted in the introduction, the smaller Forester lost its manual option for the 2009 model year, going to an all-automatic lineup. However, the slightly-larger, wagon-like Outback crossover retains a manual on the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium trims. The 256-hp, 3.6-liter flat-six is five-speed automatic only. Four-cylinder models will be getting an all-new engine next year, boosting power to 173 hp and torque to 174 lb-ft. Thankfully, the manual transmission will still be offered for 2013.

Suzuki Equator

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.5L/152-hp/171-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Comfort RWD
Price: $24,899

The Equator is nearly the same as the Frontier, but unlike the truck on which it's based, the Equator does limit your manual transmission options. The Suzuki only offers the V-6 with an automatic while choices of manual I-4 are limited to rear-drive with an extended cab for the shockingly high price of $24,899 -- $1950 more than a four-cylinder automatic. You'd have to be determined to buy this one when you can get a shift-for-yourself Frontier, Tacoma, or Colorado for thousands less.

Suzuki Grand Vitara

Transmission: 5-speed
Engine: 2.4L/166-hp/162-lb-ft I-4
Availability: Base, RWD
Price: $20,499

The Grand Vitara is not quite as grand as it once was, as the 3.2-liter V-6 was dropped from the options sheet in 2011, leaving the 2.4-liter, 166 hp four-cylinder as the only engine choice. However, you do get a choice of transmissions, and one of them is a five-speed manual. Other than the available stick, there isn't much remarkable about this compact SUV. Its 19/26 fuel economy rating puts it on par with many of its substantially more powerful V-6-powered competitors. You also give up four-wheel drive to get the manual, making the Grand Vitara a rear-drive only proposition. Its modest starting price of less than $21,000 might be appealing, but be prepared for a fairly basic small SUV experience.

Suzuki SX4 Crossover

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 2.0L/150-hp/140-lb I-4
Availability: Base, Technology Value Package
Price: $17,794 (Base), $19,624 (Technology Value Package)

It's a bit of a stretch to call an SX4 an SUV, even though it has "Crossover" right in its name. Tall wagon might be a more accurate description. Regardless, it's a legitimate option for those seeking transportation with some semblance of utility and off-road ability. In this case, there are a few compelling reasons to get the manual. For one, the automatic option is a CVT, and those don't make for the most engaging driving experience. And the manual in the SX4 is a six-speed, assuring that even with its modest 150-hp output, you'll at least have a good time rowing it. Unlike some of the other models on this list, you can actually get the manual with a few desirable goodies if you select the Technology value package, which includes a leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, touch-screen navigation with nueLink, heated front seats, and cruise control, still for less than $20,000.

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 4.0L/260-hp/271-lb-ft V-6
Availability: 4x4 MT
Price: $28,105

You may have noticed a trend on this list. Often, choosing a manual also forces some other choices, like being limited to two- or four-wheel drive. In this case, it's the latter, as the manual FJ Cruiser is only available with four-wheel drive. Other than reducing fuel economy by 2 mpg in the city and on the highway, giving the manual FJ a surprisingly thirsty 15/18 rating, there's not much downside. Toyota's well-regarded 4.0L V-6 produces 260 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque in this application, providing ample power for this midsize SUV.

Toyota Tacoma

Transmission: 5-speed, 6-speed
Engine: 2.7L/159-hp/180-lb-ft I-4; 4.0L/236-hp/266-lb-ft V-6
Availability: All Except Double Cab Long Bed
Price: $17,935 (Regular Cab 4x2 I-4), $27,515 (Double Cab 4x4 V-6)

Like is main rival, the Frontier, the Tacoma offers a manual transmission across a broad selection of trim levels, configurations, and drivetrains. From the bare-bones regular-cab four-cylinder all the way up to the V-6 Double Cab 4x4, you can get a stick in your Tacoma. In fact, the X-Runner sport truck package is only available with a manual. Toyota may occasionally get a bad rap for making boring vehicles, but it gets kudos from us for keeping the manual widely available on the Tacoma.

Volkswagen Tiguan S

Transmission: 6-speed
Engine: 2.0L/200-hp/207-lb-ft turbocharged I-4
Availability: S FWD
Price: $23,660

The U.S.-spec Tiguan with a stick shift was one that made us exclaim, "Wow, they make one like that?" We have yet to see one of these rare specimens in the wild, but they do exist. Once again, the manual option is limited to the bare-bones trim level, so you can forget about getting factory navigation, automatic climate control, leather trim, and other niceties with your shifty Tiguan. You can also forget about VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive on the front-drive-only Tiguan S manual. If you're more concerned about driving dynamics than being pampered by creature comforts, however, the S model is nearly 200 pounds lighter than the top-line SEL Automatic, about $15,000 cheaper, and a half-second quicker from 0-60.

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