Here’s a question: If you take a boring car — like, say, a 2005 Saturn Vue or a 2010 Ford Escape — and you add a five-speed manual transmission, is that still a boring car, or is it now legitimately cool? In my opinion: It’s now legitimately cool. Hear me out.
Back in April of last year, I wrote “I Can’t Stop Obsessing Over These Two Manual Ford SUVs: Which Is The Better Buy?” One of the vehicles I was obsessing over was, somehow, a Mazda Tribute:
But this wasn’t just any Tribute, because behold:
That’s right. It’s a Mazda G5M-R five-speed stickshift bolted to the unkillable MZR engine! The tan interior, the stout powertrain, and that stick — it turned an otherwise boring machine into something cool!
I feel similarly about my diesel, manual Chrysler Voyager. Am I remotely interested in second-gen Chrysler minivans? Not really (I’m a first-gen fan). But you throw a stickshift in there (along with a diesel), and now it’s a seriously a cool machine:
What about this second-gen Ford Explorer. Kinda boring, right?
But oh wait, we’ve got a Mazda M5OD!
What about this Ford Aerostar that was the inspiration for this article? Folks on Facebook are going crazy over it right now.
Surely they wouldn’t care if it were just an automatic Aerostar:
But behold; the M5OD makes yet another appearance!
What do we think about this Mazda5 minivan?
I think it’s fine. Not really all that interesting to me, except!:
A five-speed minivan! That’s legit!
I think PT Cruisers look cool in their own way, but would I ever buy an automatic model? Never, ever. In fact, with an auto, I don’t find it remotely intriguing. But slap a stick in it:
I’d totally roll in a five-speed PT Cruiser!
To me, a stickshift can make the difference between cool and wack. It’s partly because on many cars, the stick removes what can be a major/expensive failure mode, and in part because it makes the vehicle more engaging to drive. What do you think?