Used/new hybrid hatchback car with manual transmission?
July 28, 2015 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Hi there, It's nearly time for another car. Does this exist (new or used): a high-mpg hybrid hatchback or wagon with a manual transmission?

I have found that having a manual transmission (5-speed or so) helps me pay better attention to the fact that I am, in fact, driving. Also I just prefer it.

I want a hybrid car.

I occasionally purchase lumber or haul other stuff around, so I also would like a hatchback or possibly a wagon. Please no SUVs. There are too many already.

Can anyone recommend a car for me? It can be new, used, whatever. I ended up getting a non-hybrid Mazda 3 a number of years ago, and I would really prefer a high-mileage hybrid so I can drive long distances relatively guilt-free.

Bonus: being able to run the A/C with it set to blow on the windshield (defog/defrost) AND set to recirculate cabin air. I have my reasons!
posted by amtho to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
As far as I've read, the Honda CR-Z is the only hybrid with a manual transmission.

Without delving into deep technical details, I'll say this: you are unlikely to find many hybrid vehicles with manual transmissions. Many (if not most) of the hybrid vehicles available today use a Continuously Variable Transmission for a number of reasons, the prime one being that it enables the engine to easily move between (or use both) the power of a combustion engine and electric motor. As such, you do not have the concept of "gears" like you do with a manual transmission or traditional automatic transmission.
posted by mikeh at 2:07 PM on July 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

Would you consider a diesel instead of a hybrid? That would open up all sorts of vistas.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:08 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

I believe the first generation honda Insight (model years 1999-2006) had a manual transmission option, although starting in 2001 CVT was also an option.
posted by muddgirl at 2:11 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Confirming what's above, I bought a manual Honda CR-Z in 2012 and was told at the time that it was the last hybrid in production with a manual transmission. It is a hatchback, but it's a 2-seater -- you can fit a surprising amount of stuff in it for its size, but not relative to basically any other vehicle. Its mileage is also not that great in the current scheme of things -- I think I get 35-40 mpg depending on driving conditions, usually closer to 35.
posted by dorque at 2:16 PM on July 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also worth noting that driving long distances is where you're going to hit the break-even point on hybrids versus a more efficient combustion engine -- hybrids excel at stop-and-go driving where regenerative braking can charge up the battery and slower speeds can use electric power. Highway miles, which is likely what you would be looking at for long trips, are far less efficient in that the gas engine is going to be running the majority of the time and you'll only gain charge when rolling downhill.
posted by mikeh at 2:19 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

The Golf TDI (diesel, not hybrid) gets mid-40s mpg on highway trips, and it's a hatchback.
posted by Dashy at 2:20 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you'd consider a diesel instead, I'd recommend a Jetta TDI wagon (40-50mpg for highway usage depending on the model year, newer are lower). I have a 2009 with definitely tons of room for hauling things and a/c can definitely point at the windshield for defrosting magic (honestly I'm surprised there are cars that don't have this) and it has recirculate (also have a 2003 Jetta TDI, but sedan, which has the same a/c features).
posted by disaster77 at 2:23 PM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're going to consider non-hybrids, check out the Honda Fit. Ours with the five-speed is fun to drive, holds a lot, and gets great mileage.
posted by exogenous at 2:36 PM on July 28, 2015

One comment, the EPA MPG standards were revised as of the 2008 model year, to make them considerably more accurate. Previously they didn't reflect the way people actually drove, assuming gentler acceleration. Our new Mazda 3 hatchback is rated 41 highway, and that's about what it gets on pure freeway driving. So the Prius or TDI at 48 or 46 highway isn't that much better. It's the difference between 244 gallons vs. 217 for 10,000 freeway miles, or about 560 lbs. of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, only 5% of new cars have manual transmissions, which is down from 10% a decade ago, so your choices are likely to decrease over time.
posted by wnissen at 5:08 PM on July 28, 2015

Does paddle-shifting the Mazda count as stick shift for you?
posted by SemiSalt at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2015

Toyota Matrix?

I have a 2009 (the last year they made it) 5-speed manual transmission Pontiac Vibe, which is basically a Matrix (Toyota engine) with a Pontiac outside. Hard plastic lined cargo area, hatchback. I get 25-30 MPG city. Not hybrid.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:29 PM on July 28, 2015

Response by poster: For the nay-sayers: we currently own a Honda Civic Hybrid (2003) with a manual transmission, so they existed _back then_. We loooove it, but it's not a hatchback.
posted by amtho at 6:13 PM on July 28, 2015

Response by poster: Almost got a Matrix/Vibe when I bought this Mazda3, but I want better gas mileage.

Even on highway miles, the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid does quite well (can't remember specifics right now).
posted by amtho at 6:14 PM on July 28, 2015

Data point: 2005 was the last year for your fave Honda Civic Hybrid w/ manual transmission

We own a Lexus CT, it's a hatchback (Lexus's smallest car) and love it. But no manual trans.
posted by artdrectr at 11:12 PM on July 28, 2015

I just bought the mazda 3 hatch last year and regularly get 34 city/ 40+ highway.(the recent 2.0l skyactiv really bumped the gas mileage compared to previous mazda 3)Only time i have seen below 30 has been during winter and stop..and go..and stop traffic.

Mazda also is well known to have really good manual transmissions, think Mx-5 but more practical
posted by radsqd at 1:01 PM on July 29, 2015

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