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The manual transmission – it’s fun to drive, generally gets better gas mileage, and helps a ton with off-road driving. Regardless of these upsides, this breed of transmission is slowly dying out, especially in the SUV segment. 

Even though in the not-so-distant past, SUVs like the Jeep Patriot, Kia Soul, and even the Mazda CX-5 all had a standard transmission, now we are down to just two SUVs that offer this feature instead.

The all-new Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler are the only SUVs currently offering a manual transmission, which is purely for offroad fans. Outside of this, the Subaru Crosstrek was the last hold-out until the 2024 model year was announced and, with it, the manual.

Review the final two SUVs and learn which one might work best for you! I’ll discuss some modern used SUVs with manual transmissions that might work for you.

1. Ford Bronco

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Outside of a messy engine bay and many production issues, the Ford Bronco is one of my favorite everyday vehicles on the road today. Ford hit it out of the park with its retro-yet-modern styling and off-road capabilities. This SUV truly put the Jeep Wrangler, which had been living off on its own, on notice.

The Ford Bronco is also one of the only SUVs on the market today that offers a manual transmission. In this case, it is a 7-speed manual (one of the gears is a crawling gear). It can be added to all trim levels up until the Wildtrak. The Heritage Limited, and the Bronco Raptor can only be equipped with a 10-speed automatic, as the 2.3L Ecoboost is required for the manual. These trim levels use the 2.7L Ecoboost or the 3.0L Ecoboost in the case of the Raptor.

If you are looking for great off-roading credibility but still want on-road comfort, the Bronco has no actual match (at least one that can have a standard transmission, anyways).

2. Jeep Wrangler

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The Jeep Wrangler has been a mainstay in the industry and has been chugging along with its manual transmission since its introduction in 1986 (replacing the CJ series, which also had a manual transmission). In the most current iteration, the Wrangler is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, all the way from the base Sport trim up to the Sahara (anything after can only be equipped with the 8-speed automatic). 

You can’t go wrong with a Jeep Wrangler; they have had manual transmissions in their vehicles for decades and are quite proven. The major downside I see with the Wrangler is that the Bronco rides considerably better on the road than a Wrangler. I don’t feel enough of the reviewers mentioning the stark difference between the two’s on-road performance.

That said, the Wrangler is a fantastic off-roader, and the aftermarket support on these vehicles is the best in the world. The other significant benefit to these is the fact that there are plenty on the used market for you to get, making this a great budget option if you go that route.

Top 7 Best Modern Used SUVs

With only two new SUVs offering a manual transmission, you might have to buy a used SUV instead! That is why I have some of my favorite modern SUVs that provide a third pedal, so you can decide if they are right for you.

1. 2015 to 2018 Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade was meant as a replacement for both the Jeep Patriot and the Jeep Compass (however, the Compass ended up getting another generation). The Renegade is a crossover SUV that may be under the Jeep brand but doesn’t offer much off-roading. However, it does give excellent gas mileage, and has a unique and rugged style that was uncommon until recently in compact crossovers. The Renegade was offered a manual transmission until the 9-speed automatic transmission became its only option in 2019.

2. 2012 to 2017 Mazda CX-5

I am a huge fan of Mazda’s design language! However, most people need to be aware that their mid-size SUV, the CX-5, could be purchased with a manual transmission, but this was the case between 2012 and 2017. This means you could have the sporty styling and manual transmission in this SUV to at least make you feel like you are driving a sports car, while still getting all of the benefits of an SUV. Seems like a win-win to me.

3. 2012 to 2023 Subaru Crosstrek

It’s finally happening; after over a decade of offering a manual transmission and being one of the only three SUVs, the Subaru Crosstrek is eventually losing its third pedal for the 2024 model year. The Crosstrek is essentially a lifted Subaru Impreza, making it a smaller SUV with car-like characteristics. You will also get the Subaru’s great boxer engine, but keep an eye on the head gaskets, as they will need to be replaced at some point (every Subaru does).

4. 2007 to 2017 Jeep Patriot

If you are looking for a budget SUV, you might want to look at the Jeep Patriot, as it is one of the oldest on this list and one of the least liked. It’s not to say that the vehicle was terrible, but its CVT transmission was one of the worst in the industry. That said, they offered it as a manual from 2007 to 2017, and it was much more reliable; it just never caught on, making prices lower than average.

5. 2017 to 2019 Jeep Compass

The Jeep Compass used to be a budget, no-frills, cheap SUV from the brand now under Stellantis. However, all of that changed with a refresh and redesign. The Compass is a compelling, off-road, yet somehow sporty SUV that is one of the better SUVs in its class. For a short time, you could forgo the automatic transmission and get yourself a manual version instead. This is my choice!

6. 2014 to 2018 Subaru Forester

The new Subaru Forester is a fantastic SUV. However, my favorite generation was this one right here. It was more refined than earlier generations, yet it was still utterly customizable, fun to drive, and offered a manual transmission throughout the 2018 model year. For some reason, prices plummeted in these years of Forester, making this a fantastic deal. However, like the Crosstrek above, keep an eye on your head gasket; it will eventually fail.

7. 2020 to 2021 Kia Soul

The Kia Soul has seen quite a few generations and has switched from being a funky little car to now becoming funky yet sporty. If you are leaning on the sporty side, you should get the manual transmission only available in the 2020 and the 2021 model years; you’ll thank me later.

Will manual transmissions make a comeback?

At this point, it is only a matter of time before the manual transmission goes away. They still exist in SUVs like the Wrangler and the Bronco because people enjoy using a manual transmission when off-roading. 

While manual transmission used to offer faster acceleration, meaning people that want speed would buy them, now that automatic transmissions are becoming so much faster than a human can do, even that upside is dwindling.

At some point, the manual transmission will disappear, and we will be bragging about how we used to shift gears in a car.


While only two new SUVs currently offer a manual transmission, there, thankfully, are plenty still available on the used market! This article helped you find the right one for your situation and put you on the right track to purchase.