Advantages & Disadvantages: Comparison Chart

Feature/criteria Manual vs. Automatic Transmission
Option for cruise control (tempometer) Most manuals don't have cruise control. (we falsely believed that manuals can't have cruise control at all but we received manu corrections from our visitors (thank you!)- please read the comments if you want to learn more about this) In North America people measure distances in hours versus in kilometers in Europe - if a 4 hour ride sounds like about the right time first the first pit-stop then you will want cruise control:)
Control You get far more control with standards.
Vehicle cost Vehicles with MT are roughly $1000 cheaper
Fuel Economy Cars with manual transmission consume 5%-15% less fuel depending on road conditons and driving habits
Maintenance Manual transmission don't need as much maintenance as automatics and when they do, the repair costs are much cheaper.
Efficiency Standards are more efficient.
Heavy Traffic Automatics win this round: it's much easier to drive in stop-and-go traffic with an automatic
"Feeling" Want to impress your girlfriend? Drive a manual. Want to race? Manual again. Want to look cool? Manual again. Don't care about what others think and just want a confy ride? Definitely automatic.
Weight Manual transmission boxes are ligher than automatics
Cooling It's much easier for an automatic transmission to overheat

Manuals clearly win according to this chart. So how come automatics dominate the North American market? There is an explanation:

  • Americans and Canadians are used to comfort and are willing to go greath lenghts - even if it costs more money - to maintain their level of comfort.
  • As mentioned in the chart, distances on the west side of the pond can be frightening - you will need a cruise control
  • But automatics are more expensive to buy and maintain? Who cares. In a society where most people don't consider less than $5000 a debt, people don't care about a thousand bucks here and there. (refer to point #1)
  • The only knowledge required to operate an automatic is to remember that you can't put your car in park when you're driving on the highway (and even if you forget the car won't let you). With manuals you need to use your left leg, you need to plan a little ahead, you need to learn how to start without stalling, etc. Learning what can be achieved without learning is not preferred.

What's the conclusion? Fans of automatic cars would rather spend more money on a less efficient vehicle, keep pushing the brake at stop lights just so they don't have to learn how to drive a standard.

But what if you want to drink your pop while you put your left foot out the window (feels great!) and occasionally turn back to pet your dog on the back seat? Well, you'll need an automatic for that, don't you?

Btw, what about the environment? It's a bit hypocritical of treehuggers to drive automatics, isn't it?