Shift in Buyer Preferences Limits Manual Transmission Options

Dear Car Talk:

Are there any mid-sized sedans that are still available with a manual transmission? The last one I drove was a Saab 9000. If so, could you recommend a new or used one?

Although I am 80 years old, I’ve never bought an automatic and don’t want to start now. I last owned a BMW 318i. It drove well, but I prefer something a little bigger. -- Larry

It’s slim pickings out there, Larry. People who want to buy cars with stick shifts are getting rarer than people who prefer rotary phones.

Although, to be honest, our national finger flab problem has become epidemic since we all switched to keypads.

I was all set to recommend a new Honda Accord with a 2.0 liter engine. That’s a very nice mid-sized car and handles a lot like the European cars you’re used to. But Honda just announced that they’re discontinuing the manual transmission option.

Obviously, you can get one that’s a year or two old, and, as long as you have a mechanic check it out from stem to stern before you buy it, it should be a good, reliable car for you.

If you’re willing to go a little bit smaller, you can still get a VW Jetta with a stick. You have to order the R-Line trim.

The Jetta has gotten bigger lately and is probably bigger than your old BMW 318i, but smaller than the Saab 9000.

So if you want a new car, I’m going to surprise you with my choice, Larry: the Genesis G70.

Genesis is Hyundai’s relatively new luxury car brand. Kind of like what Lexus is to Toyota, though obviously not as well-established yet. Or as high priced.

The G70 is a very nice car. It’s mid-sized and competes with the BMW 3-series. It’s comfortable, has a spiffy interior and all the modern safety equipment you need -- like automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and lane keeping assist.

If you want a stick shift, you have to order your G70 with the four-cylinder engine option. But it’s hardly a slouch at 252 horsepower.

It’ll cost you about $40,000. But you’re worth it, Larry, aren’t you?

And when you decide to sell it, you can include free stick shift lessons, so you can pass your expertise on to the next generation and keep the clutch-line alive. Enjoy whatever you get, Larry.

Todays Car-o-Scope

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