A manual transmission is one with a stick for shifting gears and a third pedal for operating a clutch. Many automatic transmissions now enable manual shifting, and one style is even known as an “automated manual” because of its underlying design, but their automatic operation are what set them apart from a true manual transmission.
Though manuals now can have as many as seven speeds, they remain similar under the skin. Once the key to higher mpg, manuals no longer have this advantage. Thanks to technology and high gear counts, automatics are often more efficient and are sometimes maintenance-free. Depending on driving style, manual transmissions tend to require clutch replacements with time and use.