The manual transmission is not dead in 2020 — but relegated as it is to willfully old-school enthusiast-minded cars and budget vehicles, the stick shift may as well be. It can be hard to believe that a little over a decade ago, things were far different. (Also, as we discovered while researching this, Lady Gaga's debut album came out 12 years ago, and yes, you are getting old).
Granted, the manual transmission was still on its way out in the 2000s, but whether out of habit or thrift, carmakers kept offering them — sometimes on cars that you would never expect to offer row-your-own gearbox now. (That said, if that sounds like some bygone golden era, just remember that it was also when Chrysler’s second Malaise era happened.)
Here are 10 cars you probably forgot had a stick shift in the late Aughts and beyond.
The Mazda 5 was a tiny minivan with a four-cylinder engine and less than 160 horsepower. You got six seats, sliding doors — and the option to thrash your way through a six-speed manual gearbox.
Porsche Cayenne GTS
The first-generation Cayenne felt far more SUV than Porsche. One of the brand's first attempts to rectify that, the 399-hp GTS model with a 4.8-liter V8 in 2008, could be had with a six-speed manual.
BMW won't give us a manual in the 3 Series in 2020 (at least, in America). But back then, BMW put a manual in many cars, including their then-new X3 compact crossover. You could even get it with the more powerful 3.0-liter engine through the end of the first generation.
Supercars have become complex beasts these days, with workings too sophisticated for mere mortals. But a little more than ten years ago, Lamborghini would give you a 600-horsepower-plus 6.5-liter V12 and let you cycle the gears with a stick (not that many customers chose to do so).
Here in 2020, the Ford Escape has evolved into a soft, rounded car disguised as an SUV. Things have gotten to the point where Ford was compelled to offer a more rugged version, the Bronco Sport, which looks sort of like the pre-2013 Escape. That second-gen model offered a five-speed manual with its base four-pot engine.
Rowing your own in a Lexus has seldom been a thing; the LS never had offered the choice, and the ES ditched it as an option in the mid-1990s. But the compact IS had a manual option through 2012.
Hyundai Santa Fe
The Santa Fe is Hyundai's pleasant, popular midsize crossover — the sort of vehicle where a manual would be laughable now. But it had one for two generations, before dropping it for good in 2012.
The Jeep Patriot loved some Muricah. It had a Freedom Drive system, and there was a Freedom trim. Granted, the SUV is about as memorable a part of Jeep's history as that rogue Freedom Fry that fell between the seats....but it could liberate you from its CVT automatic with a five-speed stick.
Mercedes Benz C300
Mercedes was ahead of the curve on realizing luxury buyers wanted nothing to do with manuals. They did keep the option on one sedan in the U.S., the base C300, until the 2011 model year.
Volkswagen used to be an "offer a manual with everything" sort of company. Through 2015, that included the first-gen Tiguan, which was then a smaller Golf-like crossover with a perky 200-horsepower engine.