Rock Talk

All About 5 and 6 Speed Manual Transmissions

Last updated on November 7, 2019 at 03:03 pm

If you’re searching for differences between 5 and 6 speed manual transmissions, you probably have some experience driving stick. You’re also in limited company – only about 10% of cars manufactured in 2014 in North America had manual transmissions.

Pros and Cons of Driving Stick

Automatic transmissions rule the road in the U.S. But here’s the thing: manual transmission cars are more fun to drive. It’s a more interactive experience and you have more control over the car. Driving stick has other benefits, too. For one, it’s much harder to use a cell phone or text when you’re driving a stick shift (both your hands are busy). However, driving a manual can be a chore in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

For those who drive manual transmission cars, you probably know that the clutch between two cars never feels the same and sometimes there’s an extra gear on the shifter. My wife recently bought a new car and this very thing happened to her. The new car is basically the same car she had been driving, just 10 years newer. The 2006 model had a 5 speed manual transmission and the 2016 model is a 6 speed.

What’s the Difference?

For one, you shift more when driving a 6 speed. The gears on a 6 speed car are a bit more nuanced than a 5 speed. I’ve noticed that I tend to shift out of first (and second) much quicker in the 6 speed car.

From my own experience, and from what I’ve been able to glean on various car forums, another difference between a 5 speed and 6 speed car is when you’re cruising. If you’re on the open highway, chances are you’ll make your way up to 65 mph or more. This is where your sixth gear comes in handy. It’s essentially an overdrive that allows the car to operate at lower RPMs and save fuel.

Those are the two biggest differences between 5 and 6 speed manual transmissions. Tell us in the comments if you’ve experienced any others. If you’re in the market for a manual transmission car, the Car Talk blog has a fairly recent article about what’s available. Or, if you’re just itching to take your ride on the road, Plymouth Rock Assurance has plenty of safety tips for you.

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4 thoughts on “All About 5 and 6 Speed Manual Transmissions

  1. Hi Plymouth Rock! Everyone that knows me knows I love LOVE driving my stick shift. I’ve been driving a 6 speed since 2007 (wow 10 years already!) I feel that driving a stick makes the car feel like an extension of my body, attached at the foot (where I shift.) Being that we’re so close to NYC here in the Garden State, I love driving stick in NYC because I feel much more in control, and thus less stressed, in a city driving environment.

    Any other tips for driving through NYC? As a NJ commuter, it would be nice to see some tips on surviving NYC traffic patterns and crazy taxi drivers.

    1. Hi Lindsay! Thanks for the comment and great idea! We’ll start gathering tips and put this on the schedule as a future topic.

      Do you have any tips you think should be on that list?

  2. I am trying to resolve a question in my head. Last September I bought an an MX-5 Miata (2006). The car is pristine and had 36K on it. The dealer said it was a club spec, but it has the 6 speed manual and the sport bilstein suspension. Putting the Vin into the Mazda site they can’t tell me what I actually have. Any help to figure out what it is?

  3. I own a 6 speed manual transmission Kia Sorento. I use the 6th gear only when I am on the highway. I was just wondering if it would be ok to shift from 4th to 6th without shifting to the 5th knowing that when I am downshifting I usually skip gears.

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