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Honda is Teaching the Next Generation How to Drive Stick

Keeping the dream alive, one kid at a time.

Learning to drive a car with a manual transmission used to be something akin to a right of passage. Over time, cars sold in the States became more Americanized, ditching the third pedal in favor of convenience and fuel efficiency. But this removed a crucial element of driving: Fun. Last week, Honda announced that 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.

Honda invited 53 people to its “Shifting Gears” event in California’s San Gabriel mountains last week to show off its line of manual transmission cars. The Japanese automaker brought 16 of its cars to the event with the goal of teaching the participants how to drive a three-pedal car in a closed lot or allowing more seasoned drivers to experience the thrill of California’s dynamic roads.

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

Honda brought some interesting and exciting cars to the event for participants to try their hands at driving. Attendees could choose from vehicles like the new Civic Type R or the classic Civic CVCC. Honda also brought some of its performance-oriented models like the S2000 CR and Prelude SH into the mix.

Honda is one of the last remaining manufacturers to remain committed to offering manual transmissions in its lineup. The Accord, Civic, Fit, and HR-V all have various trims available with a manual gearbox, and some models, like the Civic Type R and Civic SI, are exclusively offered with a three-pedal configuration, something that isn’t often seen in this day and age in the United States. Sure, some manufacturers are choosing to keep a manual transmission in their cars, but are they actively advocating for its use or teaching new drivers how to drive?

There’s no denying that the manual transmission is on its way out. More companies are ditching the stick in favor of CVTs or semi-automatic dual-clutch transmissions in the name of efficiency, and with the rise of electric cars, there are very few reasons for automakers to push for the continuance of the manual gearbox. Fortunately, events like this give me hope that we’ll see at least a few more years of stick shifts in the States.