Ah yes, learning to drive on stick shift cars, I remember that quite well – stalling out in the middle of the busy intersection in my mother’s white Nissan Sentra while frantically trying to crank the car back up. But she was right about the skill, it did often come in handy later on, and now I enjoy the fun of driving stick shift cars…especially if they’ve got a V6 or a V8. Although the number of stick shift cars available for sale has plummeted over the past decade, there are still a few excellent holdouts for those of you that prefer a more hands-on experience. And here’s a secret: they aren’t all unaffordable sports cars.
Top Pick in Best Stick Shift Cars: Mazda Miata
Okay, so the MX-5 Mazda Miata is a sport’s car, but it’s also incredibly affordable and unpretentious. You get all of the fun of driving a sports car, but without all the trying-to-hard, vroom vroom stuff. And that’s part of the reason the Miata wound up my top pick for best stick shift cars – because its manual transmission model gives you a little extra kick over the automatic model with its 167 horsepower. The Miata is known for its thrilling performance that comes without the added bulk of a huge engine, and if you’re into taking the road into your own hands, this featherweight is the perfect place to start. As an added bonus, the Miata is petite, leaving just enough room for you and a passenger, so it’s built for thrilling and scenic joyrides, not necessarily picking up groceries. That’s how you know a car is the perfect choice for manual transmission.
First Runner-Up in Best Stick Shift Cars: Jeep Wrangler
I guess the Jeep Wrangler could be considered a car, at least for the purposes of being listed on my best stick shift cars, but really it’s an all-terrain vehicle with a great sense of fun. It’s the perfect fit for an adventurous sidekick, and if you haven’t experienced the control and handling of its 6-speed manual transmission while you’re off-roading, then you’re not fully experiencing those dips and hills. Stick shift cars are all about handling and being able to feel the road you’re driving over, and those are both Wrangler’s calling card. A V6, 202 horsepower engine ensures that you’ll never get stuck anywhere you can’t get drive yourself out of, Indiana Jones.
Second Runner-Up in Best Stick Shift Cars: Volkswagen EOS
If you haven’t seen the Volkswagen EOS yet, do yourself a favor and Google it – you can take a minute to check it out, it’s a looker for sure. Volkswagen built a convertible with a sunroof, an ingenious and stylish idea that I can fully get behind, not to mention that when you’re driving any of these best stick shift cars, you want to get out of the driveway and onto the road. The EOS makes it simple for you to flip down the lid and take the scenic route. In addition to being a good-looking car, the EOS is also a prime example of diligent German engineering – a turbo charged engine and super smooth shifting capabilities, according to reviewers. So you can put that on your wheels and spin it, from here until wherever you get where you’re going.