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Honda Wants You to Know About the Wonders of Driving Stick

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2017 Mazda3

Manual cars are quickly becoming a dying breed in the United States, with more than 95% of all new cars sold equipped with an automatic transmission. Honda, however, recognizes the value of driving a manual and is seeking to share its knowledge with the world, perhaps in the hopes that people will buy one of their many available manual models.

Last week, the automaker announced it was launching a campaign to bring the joy back to driving by teaching the next generation of drivers how to drive a car with a manual transmission. Given the imminence of self-driving electric vehicles, this almost seems like a step backward, but perhaps that’s what makes the timing right: as we relinquish more and more control over driving to automated systems, we gradually forget how cars work and why so many enthusiasts around the world enjoy driving them, and it may be time for a refresher course.

As part of the campaign, Honda invited 53 people to a “Shifting Gears” event in the San Gabriel Mountains in California. It brought 16 of its manual cars to teach participants how to drive with three pedals and a stick or to allow experienced drivers to enjoy the lively roads for which the state is famous.

“The Shifting Gears event was a great opportunity for manual transmission drivers of all experience levels to enjoy the increased control of driving stick,” said Kristen Lanzavecchia, one of the less seasoned drivers in the program. “As a newer MT driver, the Honda team’s behind-the-wheel training boosted my confidence to make driving manuals fun instead of daunting!”

Some of the cars present included the Civic Type R as well as the old-school S2000 CR. With more and more companies trading out manual transmissions in favor of CVTs and dual-clutch semi-automatics, Honda remains one of the few to remain committed to old-fashioned driving enjoyment and control.