Honda Delivers Industry Love for Manual Transmissions

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For old-school truckers who love manual transmissions, the full-size pickup truck arena can be a frustrating class to shop. Only the Ram 2500/3500 offer a manual transmission — with the exception of the 2500 Power Wagon. However, just about every competitor in the mid-size pickup class provides customers with a manual transmission option — with the exception of the Honda Ridgeline. Most of these manuals are sold in entry-level trims with sales rates of less than 10 percent of a vehicle's annual sales total.

So, we found it interesting that Honda recently focused on its manual transmissions during a media event in Southern California. Honda highlighted how many of its vehicles are offered with a manual transmission and that it offers manual transmission driving lessons for anyone interested in improving their driving. We say "interesting" because Honda is the only mid-size pickup truckmaker not to offer a manual transmission. That, of course, is because the Ridgeline evolved from the Honda Pilot SUV and Honda Odyssey minivan, which do not offer a manual transmission. So, the Lincoln, Ala., production facility that builds all three vehicles doesn't have the capability to install manual transmissions.

Still, Honda does offer the Fit hatchback, HR-V SUV, and Civic and Accord sedans with manual trans options and we thought Honda deserves recognition for continuing to offer manual transmissions. Not surprisingly, Honda's high-performance Civic Type R is only offered with the manual trans. And if you haven't driven a Civic Type R, you should.

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We don't expect Honda to ever make a Ridgeline Type R manual transmission, but it would be amazing if that happened. Additionally, we'd love to see Honda take its manual transmission driving lessons on tour to give younger drivers a chance to learn how much fun, more engaging and more inspiring driving a vehicle equipped with a manual trans can be.

Below are some photos we took during the 90-minute manual driving sessions we observed. Who knows, maybe if Honda gets enough push from customers, we'll see the Honda Ridgeline join the list of manual-trans mid-size pickups available in the expanding class. photos by Mark Williams (Ram 3500 HD above, Mitsubishi Triton bottom)


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Mitsu Triton manual II




This surprises me since manufacturers for the most part are getting away from manual transmissions. I prefer a manual myself but many younger people show little interest in them. I do not see Honda offering more manual transmissions in the US but in Europe and other parts of the World they are still popular.

Wonder if that is the Wheeler Dealer Civic CVCC? I had a 1978 Accord LX CVCC hatch 5 spd - loved that car.

They don't sell enough Ridgelines to offer a major drivetrain option like this. I was surprised they offered a 2WD option, frankly.

Honda manuals have always been smooth and slick. Hopefully they'll lead the rest of the industry in this regard. I love a stick shift in my pickups.

I like "rowing gears"!

Ridgeline is to refined to have a manual transmission.
However putting the paddle-shift in would be fine.
This will probably be added doing Ridgeline refresh as they move to 10speed.
I drove 5 speed manual Honda cars for 20yrs just about everyday
1980-1999. Prelude and two Accord sedans when I got my Acura it had Sport-Shift but rarely use it.

Forgot to say that many reviews of Ridgeline marvel how good the 6 speed automatic in the Ridgeline is. The Pilot has the sometimes problem ZF 9speed transmission in some models but they kept the 6speed in the Ridgeline.

It's impossible to put a manual in a F-150 Eco-Boost cause no one makes a clutch that's strong enough to handle that engine power

t's impossible to put a manual in a F-150 Eco-Boost cause no one makes a clutch that's strong enough to handle that engine power
Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Apr 27, 2018

@Eco rules

Please let's be serious. RAM has a HD diesel available with a clutch. It will haul some freight. There are muscle cars that still offer a clutch. C'mon man!

@papa jim--EcoBust is hoping for that double clutch transmission in the Focus to be added to the F-150. It is fun to guess which gear it is shifting into.

It's impossible to put a manual in a F-150 Eco-Boost cause no one makes a clutch that's strong enough to handle that engine power

Posted by: Ecoboost Rules | Apr 27, 2018 3:58:24 PM

Who makes the clutch for 18 speed semi trucks, maybe those are strong think?

Just give me a manual trans with a dial shifter!

Manuals are on a dying breed for a reason, nobody wants them.

Manuals are on a dying breed for a reason, nobody wants them.
Posted by: Jim | Apr 28, 2018


have you been off road lately? Manual trans rule in the dirt

I was surprised my daughter#1 learned to drive her boss's Mini w/floor shift so she can get a stick in her next car. Her husband has no desire to learn clutch work skills.

My neighbor bought a K-5 like mine for his son and had to sell it when the boy child lacked the coordination or mindset to pull it off.

Maybe the driving schools could offer a class for new drivers who want to learn this skill? I is pretty intimidating when you are drawing looks for gear grinding and Millennial's are acutely sensitive to how they are viewed by peers. (Mine are anyway)

Americans are too damn lazy to drive a manual...

GM will gladly sell them a manual transmission Colorado- 2 wheel drive only

Maybe the driving schools could offer a class for new drivers who want to learn this skill...Posted by: Stevadore | Apr 29, 2018

It ain't that difficult. Just buy a tractor (Deere, not Mack). That's how I learned. After a week of screwing around with the old Harvester, I was no longer afraid of the clutch.

Love my 2013 Honda Accord 4cyl 6spd manual. In 7 years it will be my sons first car and I'm pretty sure he will be one of the only kids his age that HAS to learn manual and WILL.

I learned how to drive on automatic at 16yrs of age.
I took 1 2hr lesson from Easy Method Driving school 2year after having my permit on a manual transmission Chevy.
I already had my new 1980 Honda Prelude on order coming from Japan. When I brought it home from the dealership it cut off on me at least 30 times in the 4 city miles. Took a week to get it really down never tore up it's clutch kept the car 15yrs even after getting new 1990 Accord 5 speed.

Honda could easily put a manual in the Ridgeline. Market forces are directing them not to. Look at all of the “ lane assist”, “hands free parking” “back up cameras” and “CVT” transmission advertisements being jammed down the throat of the American consumer. People are too fixated on their “infotainment screens” to focus on the task at hand: Safely control a several thousand pound vehicle to its destination.
The industry wants one to believe that the electronic approach to driving is more practical and efficient. Funny thing about that: In Europe, where fuel is ten bucks a gallon, and people have far less coin to invest in expensive technologies, manual shift cars dominate the landscape. They’re cheaper to buy and maintain, and get better gas mileage....without relying on convuluted ten speed automatic or CVT failure prone power transfer systems.

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