As CVT's gain ground, the benefits of a manual transmission (in terms of
fuel economy) fade. Most CVT's are either equaling or exceeding the mpg
rating of manuals. I'm not ready to trust CVT's yet, and prefer to see them
proven over time, but they do show promise.
I was not aware that they were in common production for those cars. Are you
quite certain? Most of the Civics I'm aware of had automatics or standards.
In any event, not all manufacturers have a lot of experience with them. If
you want to jump on board with a manufacturer's early ventures into a
technology, be my guest. Experience has shown that to be less than
The newer automatics are so efficient that they often get higher mileage
than a manual transmission in the same car. No one that drive
extensively in heavy stop and go traffic is going to put up with a
Most of the reason a manual Toyota Corolla still gets better
mpg than an automatic Toyota Corolla is that the manual has
a 5-speed tranny while the auto has a 4-speed one.
For other makes and models, and in the last five years or
so, changes in auto tranny design have resulted in it often
surpassing manual trannies when it comes to mpg, when
comparing the same models whose only difference is the
www.fueleconomy.gov , among other sites, indicates the 2008
Corolla is available with either a manual 5-speed (five
forward gears) tranny or an automatic, 4-speed (four forward
gears) tranny. Generally for diverse driving (e.g. some kind
of cross between city and highway driving), the more gears,
the better the odds the engine has of running at optimal
Though I probably should have qualified this somewhat. For
one, with other makes, there are some automatic four-speed
trannies with variable yada that can do as well as or better
than manual five-speeds.
The bigger point to me is that it's worth checking the MPG
for both the auto and manual versions of a particular model
and year before just assuming the manual tranny will do
better than the auto.
Lastly, as others are saying and MPG aside, I think manual
transmissions tend to be cheaper to maintain and are less
prone to breakdown.
Actually, an automatic transmission can easily go 200K miles with no
repairs or maintenance other than perhaps one change of fluid. 200K
miles of city driving on a manual will require at least one clutch
change. For highway driving, you could go longer on a clutch.
Actually, you're speaking in possibilities and outliers. I
am talking about averages. I can say that, anecdotally,
reports of serious problems with auto transmissions are much
more common in this newsgroup than reports of serious
problems with manual trannies. Fact is the engineering of an
auto tranny is far more complicated than that of a manual.
This of course translates to a greater propensity for
I would not generalize like this. Clutch wear depends on
shifting style as well as stops and starts. I do not do all
city driving but it's been almost all suburban driving, with
some city and highway. My 91 Civic is on 204k miles on its
LOL, it actually was Elmo one talking about outliers, claiming that 125K
miles to be the norm for an automatic transmission. Maybe it's the norm
for Ford or Chevy (actually I don't believe that either), but definitely
for Toyota and Honda.
A Canadian study on longevity (11-20 year old cars) showed the following
as the five non-luxury vehicle brands with the highest percentage of
vehicles (based on number originally sold):
Of course you don't know how much was spent to keep these going that
long, how much oil the engines consumed, or how much was spent on
repairs in years 1-10, but there's no reason to believe that these
owners were willing to spend more on repairs than owners of more poorly
For reference here are my facts:
My '95 Concorde now has 140k kms on it.
The engine runs perfectly, gets the original fuel mileage, goes 8k on a
liter of oil and the auto shifts as new.
The only repairs on the engine were a set of plugs at 95k, and
replacement of the rubber parts on the engine external , associated with
the fuel and PVC system, in '06.
Engine service is oil changes at 5 to 8 k, always twice per year, plus a
few air filters.
The only transmission service has been oil changes every 50k plus a
flush at 120k.
A friend of mine has a '94 of the same car going strong at 210k.
I've read the design was for 200k miles (300k kms)
This is not unusual, but typical of this engine transmission.
Transmission failures from '94 on are usually due to lack of adequate
Oh I should mention that although I often drive on severe winter roads
to the ski hills, the body is rust free and stil shines lovely. The body
has had no special treatment, just washed with Turtle wash and wax.
Actually, this mileage is related to less transmission slippage, not
I have seen some automatics that were close in mileage, but I would like
for you to point out one that surpasses the manual.
Warning: keyboard may cause involuntary vowel movement - Clay Ferriola
Not to sound condescending or anything, but I am glad you
chimed in, because on further reading, I thought it should
be pointed out that a major factor in automatics
traditionally getting worse MPG is the torque converter. The
TC represents a "fluid coupling," whereas the manual
tranny's clutch etc. are a mechanical linkage. Energy
transmission losses are greater with the liquid linkage. As
many of the pros here know. (I am just an amateur who works
on her own car and reads like crazy to understand it.)
But this has changed somewhat with the advent of the "lock
up torque converter."
Optimal gearing is still said to be a factor, though.
Several other factors are said to play significant roles, as
well. So my post did not do justice to why older automatic
trannies were less efficient than manual trannies.
Sure. www.fueleconomy.gov. Just sort of randomly, based on
checking this a few times in the last several years, and
using only the same engine size for a given model:
2007 Civic, same engine size, both five forward speeds:
Manual = 26 MPG city, 34 MPG highway
Auto = 25, 36
2007 Subaru Impreza (an all-wheel drive vehicle)
Manual (5-speed) = 19, 26
Auto (4-speed) = 20, 25
2007 Nissan Sentra
Manual (6-speed) = 24, 31
Auto (variable gear) = 25, 33
2007 Hyundai Elantra
Manual (5-speed) = 24, 33
Auto (4-speed) = 25, 33
2007 Kia Rio
Manual (5-speed) = 27, 32
Auto (4-speed) = 25, 35
From this survey, I think we could argue that newer
automatic trannies seem to do better at highway speeds, even
though it often has fewer gears. The lock up converter (used
only at higher speeds) is the first area I would explore to
explain most of this higher efficiency. I see the lockup
converter started gaining in popularity around the late
1970s but ISTM only recently did all models start having
them. I see the 1995 versions of the cars above never saw
the autos beating the manuals for miles per gallon. Granted
other improvements may have been implemented, like
continuously variable transmissions (CVT).
The Sentra is interesting, since for the two versions I
compared, the big difference is the variable gearing in the
auto. It's the only model that beat the manual version in
both city and highway.
Toyota OTOH seems to consistently have no models where the
auto does better than the manual under city or highway
Again, just an amateur here.
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