10 Best Manual Transmission Cars for 2021
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Despite dropping sales and fewer stick-shift models to go around, it’s still possible to find a car with a manual transmission for nearly any price range. That’s good news for driving enthusiasts who prefer the control of a clutch and shifter or budget-conscious buyers pinching pennies at the gas pump. The best manual transmission car for you depends on your priorities, but our list includes sporty models as well as economical daily drivers.
|Best Manual Transmission Cars|
|BMW 2 Series Coupe||4.73||European sport|
|Honda Civic Sedan||4.60||Comfortable daily driving|
|Toyota 86||4.58||Sporty daily driving|
|Honda Fit||4.57||Economic hatchback|
|Genesis G70||4.46||Luxury at value|
|Ford Mustang Coupe||4.46||American sport|
|Subaru WRX||4.44||All-wheel drive|
|Porsche 718 Cayman||4.40||Luxury and speed|
|Dodge Challenger R/T||4.38||American muscle|
|Kia Soul||4.33||Economic crossover|
How we chose the best manual transmission cars
About three dozen vehicles offer a manual transmission for the 2020-2022 model years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. (Search them by transmission type, here.) We considered most and evaluated them according to price, features and how well they performed in expert and consumer reviews from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds. Ten cars made the cut and are listed here, according to their average score.
The best manual transmission cars
2020 BMW 2 Series Coupe
- 4.73 out of 5
- $35,900 starting MSRP
The base 230i trim of this sporty coupe gets you from zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds with a six-speed manual transmission and a 2-liter turbo, 4-cylinder engine that creates 248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque. The manual transmission comes standard but it’s not available on all-wheel drive models and the 230i convertible. BMW doesn’t sacrifice creature comforts on its 2 Series manual coupe with base features like 17-inch wheels, LED lights and advanced driver safety aids, including forward-collision mitigation and lane departure warning.
2021 Honda Civic Sedan
- 4.60 out of 5
- $23,050 starting MSRP
Available as a hatchback, sedan and performance or “hot” hatch, the Honda Civic is famous for its reliability, safety and high resale value. It’s no surprise that it’s Honda’s second-best selling model behind the CR-V, Honda’s compact SUV. The bad news is that you’ll have to pay extra to get the six-speed manual transmission, which isn’t available on the base model but can be had on the Sport trim and up. A base LX with automatic transmission starts at $21,250. No matter which Civic sedan you choose, its basic warranty is good for three years, 36,000 miles while its powertrain warranty lasts five years, 60,000 miles.
2020 Toyota 86
- 4.58 out of 5
- $27,060 starting MSRP
For less than $30,000, this six-speed stick-shift car is built for sports car lovers, with rear-wheel drive and a 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that generates 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. A digital gauge cluster displays performance statistics, including the internal oil temperature. Base trim features include 17-inch wheels, a 7-inch touch screen, LED headlights and smartphone integration. Like some other sports cars, advanced driver safety aids found on other types of Toyota aren’t available on the 86. Toyota’s standard warranties apply: three-year, 36,000-miles basic warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2020 Honda Fit
- 4.57 out of 5
- $16,190 starting MSRP
A compact hatchback, the Honda Fit is a solid car with a price tag well under $20,000. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the two lower trims, the LX and Sport, but a disappointment is that you can’t buy a new manual Honda Fit with Honda Sensing, Honda’s suite of safety features. The Fit gets great gas mileage (29 city/36 highway/31 combined), though the automatic versions are a little better, with second-row “magic seats” that allow drivers to make the most of the limited space. A great starting price means standard features are practical, not flashy, including Bluetooth connectivity and a multi-angle rearview camera. Sadly, Honda decided to discontinue the Fit after the 2020 model year, so you’ll need to act fast if you want to buy one new.
2020 Genesis G70
- 4.46 out of 5
- $38,500 starting MSRP
Winner of the North American Car of the Year, the G70 is a practical daily car that comes with features you’d expect from a luxury brand including 19-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, a limited slip differential and a sport exhaust system. Its six-speed manual transmission is paired with a turbo, 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine capable of 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. But you’ll pay more for the stick-shift model, about $3,000 more than the base eight-speed automatic. All G70s include active safety features, such as automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning. The Genesis G70 comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile complimentary maintenance plan and two warranties: a five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2020 Ford Mustang Coupe
- 4.46 out of 5
- $26,670 starting MSRP
This legendary American coupe comes standard with a six-speed manual and is powered by a turbo, 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine capable of 310 horsepower with 350 pound-feet of torque. Standard features include 17-inch wheels, a performance-tracking smartphone app, 4G LTE Wi-Fi and keyless entry and ignition. The High Performance package ups the horsepower to 330 horsepower for an additional $4,995. If you’re willing to shell out even more dough, the top-of-the-line Mustang Shelby GT500 gets 760 horsepower. A 2021 Mustang is available, including the brand-new Mustang Mach-E, an electric version of the popular car. All Mustangs come with a three-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
2020 Subaru WRX
- 4.4 out of 5
- $27,495 starting MSRP
A compact sedan with standard all-wheel drive, the sporty Subaru WRX comes with a six-speed manual transmission paired with a 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that generates 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. If you’d like even more power, the WRX STI trim gets up to 310 horsepower, 290 pound-feet of torque and comes with Brembo brakes, upgraded differentials, steering and suspension tuning. A three-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty are standard on the WRX. A 2021 version is available but lacks full ratings on KBB and Edmunds as of press time.
2020 Porsche 718 Cayman
- 4.4 out of 5
- $57,500 starting MSRP
Fast, luxurious, reliable and expensive, the Porsche 718 is one of the best manual transmission cars if you’ve got a larger budget. The base model, the Cayman, has a turbocharged, 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. For 2021, the 718 comes in 11 configurations in total, starting with the Cayman and ending in the 718 Spyder, a boxster capable of going zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds, with 414 max horsepower, for a starting MSRP of $97,300. A four-year, 50,000 mile warranty is standard on all models.
2020 Dodge Challenger R/T
- 4.38 out of 5
- $34,995 starting MSRP
The 2020 Dodge Challenger’s six-speed manual is only available starting on the R/T trim, a price hike from the base SXT with a starting MSRP of $28,095. For the money you’ll get a 5.7-liter V8 pairing that produces 372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Even greater power is possible with the R/T Scat Pack thanks to a larger engine, a turbocharged 6.4-liter V8 (458 horsepower, 475 pound-feet of torque). The top trim, the SRT Hellcat, produces a whopping 717 horsepower and 656 pound-feet of torque. Two additional packages could boost it to 797 horsepower, 707 pound-feet of torque with SRT Super Stock adding 10 horsepower on top of that. All told, a fully loaded SRT Hellcat Redeye could top out at more than $80,000. Whichever level of muscle you choose, the Challenger comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.
2021 Kia Soul
- 4.33 out of 5
- $17,590 starting MSRP
A subcompact that’s plenty spacious on the inside thanks to its boxy design, the Kia Soul is an inexpensive crossover with a long warranty, a five-year, 60,000 mile basic warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The 2021 Soul comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission paired with a fuel-sipping 4-cylinder engine and a few nice features, such as a 7-inch touchscreen and smartphone integration. A bump up to the S trim for an MSRP of $20,690 adds a suite of active safety features including automatic emergency braking, blind sport warning and more, but you won’t get a manual transmission. If you want a manual in a higher trim, you’ll have to spring for the top-of-the-line Turbo with a starting MSRP of $27,650.
Financing a manual transmission car
Though many of the cars on this list are relatively inexpensive, you’ll probably need an auto loan in order to drive one off the lot. Potential lenders include your own credit union, bank or online lender. Apply to a few to compare offers and see which one is best for you before heading to the car lot. Dealers are often able to raise your APR and make a profit off your loan, not just your car. The best way to avoid this is to get a preapproved auto loan, so you know what APR you deserve. If the dealer can beat it, you’ll know you’re getting a fair deal. On LendingTree, you could fill out a single online form and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, depending on your creditworthiness.