Is There A Case For Automatic Transmissions?

Illustration for article titled Is There A Case For Automatic Transmissions?

Here's a scary thought for Halloween: between 1980 and 2005 the percentage of cars with a stick shift dropped from 35% to 6%. The rise in gas prices has led to a slight uptick in manual vehicles (7.7% last year), but most cars are still going in the direction of automatic transmissions. You won't be able to get a 2009 F-150 with a manual if you're a truck lover. Even if you want the trickest of trick AMG Mercedes at best you'll have a manumatic 7-speed. The upcoming Chevy Cruze? Supposedly it'll get better fuel economy with an auto tranny. Want a manual transmission? Buy a a Kia Rio. But is this a bad thing? Over at MSN Autos, Lawrence Ulrich makes the point that not all automanuals are that bad. Some people prefer them. Even the Audi S3 will get the Audi/VW 7-speed DSG gearbox, a favorite of enthusiasts. We love the manual transmission. We really do. But we'd be lying if we thought every car actually needed one. Is there a point to a manual Taurus? Sports cars should at least come with a manual option for those who, like us, prefer the feel, but a well-made paddle-shifted transmanual in a grand tourer is a completely reasonable thing. Right? (QOTD is your chance to answer the day's most pressing automotive questions and experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good "Question Of The Day" send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

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Automatic transmissions now are the norm

But that or a stick shift? my heart is quite torn

When stuck in traffic, a slushbox is great

but when it gets twisty I'd kill for a gate

Many a clutch pedal, it's true I have worn

With so many two-pedal cars on the road

and so few with a clutch now being sold

The day will come, more soon than you know

when no one knows how, the gears they should row

Not even those who are very very old

So when the zombie horde descends on us come revelation

And only an old Chevy stake-bed will be the salvation

But at the last minute, a call emanates out of the crowd

Can anyone drive stick? Don't be shy, don't be proud

Your skill will bring us joy and elation

We need a clutch master

To end this disaster

But sadly that skill has

Gone the way of the Mercury Topaz

And so they'll be eaten, all the faster

But you will escape

Having your brains made like steak

Because you can row gears

Just like ol' Rick Mears

having learned how to do so from books-on-tape

And Darwin will prove right

As the zombies own the night

eating auto-trans users

and sedan-driving losers

While they attempt a gear-crunching flight

So make haste to gain knowledge

Maybe a night class at college

To learn how to operate

A manual transmission before it's too late

Because it's better to live to a ripe old age

If not, zombies just might

come out this all-hollows night

And seek out your gray matter

and your blood they will splatter

But if you can drive a stick, you'll end up alright