We've been talking about manual transmissions - stick shifts, as they're more popularly known - because there's just something great about changing your own gears and having extra control over your driving. Sure, automatic is great when you're stuck in LA traffic or trying to scarf a breakfast burrito on the way to the office, but for safe, efficient, enjoyable driving, manual transmissions are where it's at. In our last blog post, we showed you 5 manual transmission cars that came in under $25,000 that are ideally suited for people looking for a more enjoyable commute, who don't need to haul a lot of stuff all the time, and who want low maintenance and high mileage. This time, we'll look at manual transmission cars up to $30,000 that are better suited for a young family or someone who wants to graduate to a bit more luxury.
Photo by Nissan
$19,000 - 2013 Nissan Juke SV—It’s a rare day indeed when a driver is allowed to have fun behind the wheel of any compact family SUV but then the 2013 Nissan Juke is not your average family SUV. Just take one look at this polarizing design which apes the appearance of no other competing family SUV and the odd use of a high revving 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the only available engine. However, when this 188 horsepower motor is mated to the available (front wheel drive models only) six-speed manual transmission this becomes the vehicle SUV haters can fall in love with. It may be odd looking but it’s utterly unique so we think it is an utter miracle that the fun to drive manual transmission Nissan Juke exists.
Photo by James Hamel
$20,000 - 2014 Mazda6—There was a time when the only family sedan that offered a modicum of fun-to-drive thrills was the Honda Accord. And while that still holds true, that automaker does not build manual transmission equipped four-cylinder Accord sedans in sufficient numbers to fend off the agile handling and fun to drive 2014 Mazda6. This newly redesigned four door is sexy to look at, has a manual gearbox option that has all the hallmarks of great Mazda stick shifts and comes mated to a 2.5 liter 184 horsepower SkyActiv 4-cylinder engine that loves to rev. Best of all, the Mazda6 is inexpensive with prices starting at $20,990.
Photo by Car and Driver
$21,000 - 2013 Mini Cooper S—Rather than confuse you with the insane number of bodystyles that Mini has spun off the original two door coupe concept (among them a convertible, three door Clubman, SUV Countryman, a roadster, a coupe and something hideous called a Paceman), we have decided here to stay focused on the original model that started it all. With basic non-turbo Cooper models starting just over $21,000 and the turbocharged S models with the addictively spunky 1.6 liter 177 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, this street legal go-cart has one of the sweetest 6-speed manual gearboxes available today. Get one before Mini forgets how to make actual Minis.
Photo by James Hamel
$22,000/$28,000 - 2013 Honda Civic Si Sedan/2013 Acura ILX 2.4—It might not be obvious to the casual observer but underneath their very different exterior styles these two cars share a 2.4 liter 201 horsepower 4-cylinder as well as a sniper rifle accurate six-speed manual shifter. This engine loves to rev and with such a willing gearbox it is easy to get into some trouble with the long arm of the law... so the more upscale and conservative appearance of the Acura ILX might serve you better than the boy racer-ish Honda Civic Si. But then, that’s totally your decision.
Photo by Honda
$23,000 - 2013 Honda Accord Coupe V6—With the release of the thoroughly reworked 2013 Honda Accord Coupe V6, driving enthusiasts breathed a sigh of relief as finally the two door version of this iconic family vehicle now had a sweet shifting 6-speed manual gearbox option and nearly imperceptible torque steer. Now the Accord Coupe V6 can keep up with other sporty two doors all while offering a usable back seat and a trunk that can hold all of your in-laws luggage for their annual two week stay at your house. Well, there’s no stopping their visit but at least you can enjoy your drive from the airport!
What is your favorite manual transmission car? Share with us!