When I started driving in 1999, dozens of cars were available with a five-speed manual transmission. Though I grew up working on cars and playing in the corner of my family’s shops, I cut my teeth in the automotive world by driving five-speed Honda Civics and Preludes, an old Ford Ranger, and a girlfriend’s Jetta. I realized we’re at the end of an era the other day while researching a story when, to my dismay, I discovered that the Nissan Versa is the last car on sale in the U.S. with a five-speed manual gearbox.
You can buy a new Porsche 911 with a seven-speed manual transmission, and Chevrolet offered one in the Corvette until recently. There are also a surprising number of vehicles available with a six-speed manual, including the Toyota GR Corolla, Honda Civic Type R, and Volkswagen Golf R.
We’re more mourning the end of an era than we are the end of the five-speed itself. Six-speed boxes have different gear ratios and longer top gears to provide better fuel economy when cruising on the highway. Most new cars come with automatic transmissions for the same reason: The computer knows better when to shift than a person ever could, and fuel economy is improved as a result.
The Mitsubishi Mirage was one of the other final holdouts, but it recently dropped the manual option in a model update. It’s worth noting that the Versa’s manual transmission is only available for the base trim with the fewest options and the lowest price. So, if you’re aching to preserve nostalgia and grab a five-speed before they’re gone, you’ll have to suffer a little to accomplish your goal.
The good news is that most new cars with manual transmissions offer plenty of assistance and convenience tech to make living with a row-your-own gearbox as tolerable as possible. Many offer rev matching, which is when the car blips the throttle automatically on downshift, and several come with automatic hold features that make starting on a hill much easier.
Wherever you fall on the preference spectrum between five- and six-speed manual transmissions, there’s not much time to waste if you want to buy a new car equipped with one. Electric vehicles use completely different transmission and drivetrain technology, and there are none on sale with a manual gearbox. Toyota and Lexus may release a simulated manual for EVs in the future, but it won’t be the same as revving out a high-strung four-cylinder or V8.