After reading Brian Kleinke's Audi post, I think it's about time to dedicate a thread to this discussion. I think the type of transmission all depends on the car and it's intended usage. I would be looking for a car my wife could drive, and a car that would be comfortable in heavy traffic (1+ hour commute each way). Obviously, each person will differ in their needs and the type of driving they see each day. I'll try to list universal pros and cons of each type. I'll try not to sway it based on my driving style, but to only provide facts about each type of transmission. [*]Manual Description: You shift gears with a hand-operated lever, and disengage the engine using a clutch pedal. Pros: Offers excellent control of the vehicle, allowing engine braking and great launches. Direct connection from engine to transmission is very efficient - wastes little power as heat. Simpler in design, and can be easier to work on. Better fuel economy, cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain. Many find it "fun" to use due to the more tactile connection between the driver and the engine/transmission. Better efficiency means better performance from smaller engines. Oh, and the push start option! Cons: Requires a fair amount of skill to extract max performance. Can be very tiring in heavy stop-and-go traffic. Can be harder to learn for beginners than most other types of transmissions. Requires a great deal of attention to operation. Difficult to use hands for other tasks while driving, i.e. eating, drinking, talking on phone, etc. Some may consider this a pro.[*]Automatic Description: Gears are shifted automatically by vehicles computer depending on conditions. Torque converter is used to provide slip between engine and transmission, making starts and shifts smoother. Pros: Smooth in operation and easy to learn. Heavy traffic poses no problem. Convenient. Easy to use hands for other tasks while driving, i.e. eating, drinking, talking on phone, etc. Some may consider this a con as it can lead to distractions. Better implementation of cruise control function on cars so equipped. Cons: Torque converter design is relatively inefficient. Wastes a lot of power in the form of heat/friction. Does not allow any real control of the gear selection. More expensive to work on, design is more complicated. Generally worse fuel economy, sometimes much worse (note: Some autos have equivalent fuel economoy and manual can have poor fuel economy if it is drivven very aggressively). Loss of fuel efficiency is caused both by the torque converter and the typical use of fewer gears than a Manual. Much more expensive to buy and more expensive to maintain. Many find it "boring" to use. More suitable than a manual when doing things like launching or retrieving a boat where you need to move very slowly and still have some pulling power.[*]Auto-Manual Tiptronic, Steptronic, something-tronic Description: An automatic transmission that has been programmed to allow faster, firmer shifts. Shifts can be controlled manually using buttons, paddles, levers, etc. Pros: Allows much more control than a regular automatic does. Performance is improved, as shifting is faster. Cons: Still doesn’t allow the control of a manual transmission.[*]SMG "Sequential Manual earbox" Description: The guts of a manual transmission mated to a hydraulic shifting/clutching mechanism that is controlled by computer. Driver can also shift using steering-wheel mounted paddles. Pros: All the efficiency of a manual, with the convenience of not having a clutch pedal. Shifts are executed in as little as 0.08 seconds, which is faster that most people could ever shift. Computer does rev-matching and clutch-modulated launches. Performance is greater than most people can accomplish using a manual. Drivers can focus more on driving and less of making perfect shifts every time. Technology has been race-proven for many years. Cons: During hard launches, sometimes a driver using a manual can better modulate the clutch, resulting in faster acceleration times than the SMG vehicle. System is complex and expensive.[*] CVT "Coninuously Variable transmission" Description: A transmission that directs power from the engine using belts and pulleys, ala a snowmobile transmission. Pros: Since the transmission does not use gears, it can more easily maximize an engine’s power and torque peaks to obtain the best performance/mileage. Tests have shown that CVT equipped cars are just as fast as their manual transmission counterparts (in a straight line). Cons: System is more complex and costly. Technology is not new, but it’s application in cars is. CVTs have a limited torque rating right now, and can’t be used in very powerful vehicles. May not be the best choice for racers, and it doesn’t allow engine braking and precise gear selection.[/list] Now, on to my opinion. My wife and I recently test-drove the Infiniti G35, so I'll use that as an example. The car would be the only car for the two of us, and needs to be practical. If it were available on every car, my choice would always be the SMG. BMW has done a fantastic job with their version. My second choice would be a Steptronic style transmission, especially since I have to put up with so much traffic. Some people might say that putting an automatic in a sports sedan defeats the purpose, but I totally disagree. Sure the manual will be a little faster, but the majority of the time the manual driver will not get a perfect launch or shifts. For everyday driving, even spirited driving, the auto-manual will be just as fast. I think the only place you will see a difference is on the track. Now, if you simply want the manual for the sheer joy of shifting, I have no argument. While our one and only car will probably have some type of self-shifting transmission, any second car that I get for myself will have a manual (or SMG if available) because I enjoy shifting. Edit: Added (I think) everyone's comments into the post.