Enthusiasts tend to like manual transmissions in an almost pathological way. You won’t have to look far on the web to find us bleating about how awesome manuals are in everything. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, though. There are plenty of bad manuals out there, and also there’s some vehicles I would avoid if they came with one.
As far as bad manuals, I’ll say the Korean manufacturers have a few. My 2001 Accent was vague and sloppy, and mine wasn’t especially reliable. I had to replace the clutch and the gearbox at 88k. It’s the only car I’ve owned that had that happen. It could have just had a bad one, because the replacement lasted much longer. But still, that’s pretty bad. The following generation Accent did seem to have a much improved one, fortunately. But most of the ones I’ve tested were just numb and boring to run through the gears.
I drive a Ram ProMaster for work. It’s been a great van for me so far, despite virtually everyone else’s experience with them. I put about 70k on it per year, and I can tell you right now I’d hate to have a manual version. Firstly, the six-speed auto shifts fine and returns around 18 mpg in mixed driving. I really like how it performs in the mountains. It’s one of the best gearboxes I’ve ever driven when it comes to engine braking. I never have to put it in manual mode, it just holds it in a lower gear and maintains a constant speed even when I’m not using cruise control. It’s exactly what I need. I could drive a manual version just fine, but I’m stuck in traffic a lot and I don’t miss the constant shifting in stop and go traffic. I’ll pass, thanks.
What about the rest of you? Any specific model or vehicle type where you’d rather not row your own?