Mustang Debate 101: Automatic or Manual?

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YouTubers debate the merits and drawbacks of both transmissions to determine which method is better.

It’s a debate as old as the first mainstream automatic transmissions: which transmission is best transmission? For the longest time, the manual was the king of movement. Manuals were more fuel efficient, they gave you better control over your car, and rowing your own gave you tons of machismo.

And then, Skynet learned to shift. Today’s many-geared automatics can outperform similarly geared manuals, allowing the driver to turn their attentions towards things like better launches off the line on the strip, and keeping up with the competition in their sights. This is the case for YouTuber StangMode in the above video, whose 10-speed Mustang EcoBoost is a drag terror because of its automatic. Thus, he invited a few manual fans to try to change his mind.

StangMode Automatic vs Manual Transmission Debate - Mustang

The first one to debate StangMode is Stefan Williams of Mod2Fame. Williams owns one of the few Hellcat Chargers to have a manual, and owns a Hellcat Challenger with 300 more horses than StangMode’s Mustang. However, the Mustang blew away the Hellcat on a dig because “these new modern transmissions are so well-equipped and so fast.” While Williams agrees with some of the points in favor the auto, the automatic “does not touch the rewarding, heroic feeling” he has when he catches every gear just right.

StangMode Automatic vs Manual Transmission Debate - Mustang

Up next is Rated R Cars, who owns “a beautiful Shelby GT350 with a six-speed,” and has owned a few manual Mustangs before, along with a couple of automatic BMW M3s. For him, he prefers the manual as it allows him to continually challenge himself as he improves his launches off the line, refining his skills one shift at a time. StangMode counters, stating that he doesn’t have to “waste [his] time” on a dying skill set when he can instead use that time to improve the car’s performance, while his “old reliable” 10-speed auto will handle shifting duties.

StangMode Automatic vs Manual Transmission Debate - Mustang

Finally, fila Hemi Life steps up to the plate. He had a 2015 Mustang EcoBoost with an automatic, which he found to be “very, very, very slow.” In 2017, he dropped the Mustang in favor of a manual Challenger. His favorite part of the manual is always knowing where the power is at all times, being able to make his car go “behnnnnnnnn” instead of waiting for the car to reach the power as had happened in the Mustang. StangMode says the issues fila had before no longer exist in 2018, as cars like the Camaro ZL1, his 2018 EcoBoost, and the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500 all have 10-speeds that provide the “seat of your pants” power fila’s manual delivers.

There are plenty more reasons for rowing your own gears, but as technology continues its advance, the automatic will probably leave the manual behind once and for all.

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Since launching her professional writing career nearly a decade ago as a fashion blogger, Cameron Aubernon has written for a handful of online and print publications on a wide variety of subjects, including expat issues, fashion, music, and, of course, the automotive industry. The automotive expert was even the editor-in-chief of a popular online lifestyle publication, where she reviewed luxury cars and interviewed fellow automotive enthusiasts.

A graduate of The Evergreen State College Class of 2005 with a bachelor's in liberal arts, Aubernon took a left turn from fashion writing into the automotive realm when she asked a fellow writer via Facebook if she could write for their site. Following an internship, stints with a couple of hyper-local online publications, and a move to Seattle, she made her then-biggest impact with The Truth About Cars, writing full-time for the publication from 2013 to 2015.

Currently, the highly-regarded automotive journalist is a frequent contributor to the high-traffic Internet Brands Auto Group websites Rennlist, Club Lexus, LS1Tech and Mustang Forums, among others.

Aubernon’s expert knowledge of all things Ford trucks has also made her a mainstay as one of the most prolific writers on Ford Truck Enthusiasts and F-150 Online.

Aubernon can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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