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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