If you’ve searched for a compact crossover, as an unbelievable number of Americans have, you’re probably aware that the Mazda CX-5 is considered the “sporty” one with crisp handling and more thrilling driving characteristics than its rivals. Well, if sport is important to you, Mazda also took things a step further: they once offered the CX-5 with a manual transmission.
They’re rare, to be clear. Of the thousands of CX-5 models currently listed for sale on Autotrader, just 36 have a manual transmission. And they were less desirable than most other CX-5 models, because they were only available on the base-level “Sport” trim. That means you can’t get the manual with all-wheel drive, or with many desirable options — and you can’t get it with the crossover’s larger engine, a 184-horsepower 4-cylinder. Instead, you’re “stuck” with a 155-hp 4-cylinder if you want to row your own gears.
But there are benefits, of course. One is gas mileage: the manual CX-5 returned 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, which was higher than any automatic version. It was also more fun to drive — at least according to car enthusiasts. But maybe the best part is that it’s likely a lot cheaper than a similar automatic, just because the pool of people who want a 3-pedal crossover isn’t a substantial one — and that means prices are lower, and deals are more common.
Assuming, of course, that you can find one. But they’re out there: 3-pedal Mazda CX-5 models, just waiting for the rare enthusiast who still wants to drive a manual, even in a compact crossover.