Head to Heads & Advice 

Pros and Cons: Automatic vs. Manual Transmissions

When you come to an AutoNation dealership to choose the car you want, you may find that you have a decision to make that you weren’t anticipating: manual, or automatic? For those of you who haven’t experienced a manual transmission, and for those of you who have never touched an automatic, here’s a smattering of pros and cons regarding the two. You can’t go wrong with either, but you might find that one suits your tastes a bit more than the other.



A manual transmission (also known as a stick shift or a manual gearbox) uses a driver-operated clutch that regulates the torque transfer from the engine to the transmission. In cars, the clutch is controlled by a foot pedal.


  • Pros – Manuals offer you control over your car that you don’t get with automatics. You have the ability to improve both your acceleration and your fuel economy by shifting yourself rather than letting your car do it for you. Manual drivers often claim that shifting yourself enhances the experience of driving and turns it into a wakeful adventure rather than a glazed-over experience.
  • Cons – Manuals require skill to drive and might cause you to kill your car on steep slopes if you’re an inexperienced driver. Stop-and-go traffic becomes painful with a stick shift because of frequent shifting, and cars with manual transmissions are also typically harder to find than automatics, as more models offer automatics.



2016 Honda Accord interiorWhile manual transmissions require the driver’s constant attention and input, automatics release the driver from that responsibility by automatically changing gear ratios as the vehicle moves. No clutch pedal is needed with an automatic, as the car effectively does the thinking for you.


  • Pros – Stop-and-go traffic is a breeze with automatic transmissions. Automatics allow you to free yourself from having to worry about when and how to shift, and make it possible to focus entirely on the road ahead of you and braking. Most models today come exclusively as automatics, making it easy to pick your automatic out.
  • Cons – Automatics often need to be serviced more frequently than manuals, and they also reduce your ability to control your fuel economy and performance. Automatics are not for the person looking to get the most power out of their engine.


What’ll It Be?

As with many of the decisions you’ll make regarding your new car, deciding whether you want a manual or an automatic comes down to your personal preferences. If you love having more control over your vehicle to squeeze out that extra acceleration and to keep yourself engaged, find yourself a manual. If you enjoy having a daily driver that makes your commute more relaxing than stressful, you’ll probably want an automatic. Either way, stop by at one of our AutoNation dealerships. If you haven’t made up your mind when you come to see us, we’ll help you every step of the way.

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