I still recall when EPA fuel figures were uniformly better on cars equipped with manual transmissions. That’s not true across the board anymore, and the truth is that automatic transmissions are just better in many scenarios. Which car do you think is a good example of that?
I can think of a bunch of different cases, like in cities where bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm every single day. Or in something big, heavy and electric like a Tesla Model X.
One other case where I was more than happy to drive an automatic was when Toyota let me drive some of its off-road cars, and I was drawn to a red 4Runner. Because red cars are objectively faster, of course. When I was on the trail, trying to keep up with the other drivers, I kept thinking how happy I was to not have to focus on shifting gears. My attention span wouldn’t have cut it for focusing on both the trail and my own transmission.
I’m sure this is against conventional off-road wisdom. Manuals may provide an advantage in certain trails (here’s an in-depth test when one is better than the other), but the one Toyota carved out was more like a collection of different scenarios drivers could easily find themselves in. Think of fire roads, deep mud, gravel, a little bit of standing water in places and small hills.
Anyone could venture into something like this on accident, so I thought it was a good enough way to showcase the 4Runner. Also, I had way too much fun bombing through the deep mud, and the auto transmission in the SUV let me focus on sliding around. The auto trans would also have made the long highway drive back home a little more casual and relaxed.
The 4Runner doesn’t have the pretense of something like a Wrangler, which I would probably prefer with a manual transmission. So all in all, I was glad to for the slush-box. But what about you, which car do you prefer with an automatic transmission instead of a manual?