QotW: What automatic transmission JNC makes a great driver’s car?

My wife knows how to drive a manual, but isn’t confident and doesn’t want to deal with it in traffic. Right now she sees driving as mostly an unavoidable chore, but my hope is that if we start off with a few weekend canyon drives and autocross events, she’ll begin to enjoy driving for its own sake. Once she feels more comfortable behind the wheel, perhaps she’ll graduate to a manual. She might never, and that’s okay. But that’s why the car we pick, a 25-year-or-older JNC, should be able to stand on its own as an automatic. The best scenario would be one that was never offered in a manual from the factory, thus avoiding any regrets for not getting the stick version.

What automatic transmission JNC makes a great driver’s car?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s in your ideal classic and daily two-car garage?“.

We know it’s almost impossible to pick cars for these kinds of questions, and your answers were commendable. Some chose polar opposites, like Crown‘s MS75 Toyota Crown Coupe/Ram Cummins combo, Alan‘s Suzuki Cappuccino/Toyota Mega Cruiser pair, or daniel‘s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V/Isuzu LUV pickup duo. Others, like Streetspirit, picked incredibly similar cars like the Pontiac Firebird/Mitsubishi 3000GT.

Pairings of old and new cars are a smart choice. We envy the self control required to not populate both spots with classics, as dankan ‘s Lexus SC300/2024 Honda Civic Hybrid set will probably never break down. Jonathon P. is lucky enough to already  own his Z31 Nissan 300ZX/Scion xB grouping.

We liked garages with a theme, such as Randy Hone‘s Toyota MR2/Prius V family, TheJWT ‘s Toyota AE86/S130 Crown package, and Taylor C.‘s Mazda Miata/6 Wagon dyad. j_c‘s Mazda Cosmo Sport/S170 Toyota Crown bloc is a beautiful JDM dream, while f31roger‘s Infiniti M30/Toyota Previa alliance joins two USDM 90s oddballs.

In the end, Ryan A. won the week with what was an excellent choice of two cars that are each at the absolute top of their respective classes. There is no roadster more fun than the Miata and no luxury sedan more comfortable than a Lexus LS400, but the best part is this garage is also completely affordable to nearly anyone.

I like my garage as it is now. I have my LS 400 on one side and my 91 Miata on the other side – and we can just skip over my wife’s CX-9 in the middle and pretend that her car doesn’t count to make this easier on me.

But, if we absolutely had to make due with exactly two cars – and we can wait until October for calculating age, I’d go with an IS300 SportCross and I’d upgrade my wife’s CX-9 to a CX-90.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

This post is filed under: News.

17 Responses to QotW: What automatic transmission JNC makes a great driver’s car?

  1. Streetspirit says:

    Personally i’d go for an svx or soarer/sc all day every day but an automatic JNC that’s a good step up to manual driving has to be the wonder civic and it’s wacky hondamatic. It’s everything you’d ever want, with it’s low, star and OD gears (talk about a random assortment) leave it in OD and you’l get moving in 3-7 business days, shift it down to soon and the 1.5 liter singlejingle up front starts protesting.
    And the little car with low weight actually makes for a fun drive too, it might even be the one to really ignite a driving passion with it’s engaging but comfortable automatic, zippy handling and direct feedback!

  2. CycoPablo says:

    The W30 MR2 is the only thing that comes to mind, but you’d have to wait a year or two for the 25 year rule.
    Pretty sure only the SMT version was brought to Australia, and although considered the worst MR2, was a cool little car in its own right.

  3. Mitsubishi Magna says:

    The Subaru Alycone SVX is something that i thought of. The SVX is an underrated gem in tuner culture and a very unique car that Subaru produced in the 90’s. I’m not sure if they were produced in America, but i would definitely import the car if anything. (If i could ever get the money lol)

  4. speedie says:

    I have not found one. I have been driving manual only cars for almost 40 years. My commute often consists of stop and go traffic and I have never thought “this would be better in an automatic”. My current car is a 2015 Honda Fit EX 6-speed, the car it replaced was a 2010 Mazda3 6-speed, and my weekend car is a 2010 RX-8 R3 6-speed. Oh and my wife’s car is a 2012 MINI Cooper S 6-speed and my daughter drives a 2009 Honda Civic 5-speed. The outlier is my son who drives a 2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon with a 5-speed automatic. The sport wagon is probably a close call but I bet it would still be better with a manual.

  5. Fred Langille says:

    Maybe because its because I’m almost 75 (surprise) and, although I am used to a stick … having had 4 and 5 speeds (as well as a 3-on-the-tree 1939 Buick Special tudor sedan!), due to the fact that my ’89 Nissan S-Cargo came RHD only, I AM glad it IS the Nissan Sentra/Micra 3-speed automatic, making it much easier to drive and enjoy. I like taking it out occasionally to do things, as it IS fun to drive … especially with the doubletakes being on the RHS! Its enough for mental math as per kmph vs mph!

  6. Franxou says:

    The first driver’s car that strikes me as “should have been stick-shifted but only came auto” is the last Mazda Cosmo/Eunos Cosmo from the ’90s. It was an automatic with a manual shift mode, and I get that automatic cars are seen as a bit upmarket, a bit plushier, but… even as a highway bomber, being able to downshift two gears at once and mash the gas is a feeling you will never get from an automatic. It still is a twin-turbo three rotors grand tourer, what more could you ask for?

  7. ra21benj says:

    There isn’t one. All my cars are manual, and when I buy a car in the future it will also be manual. A driver’s car will do whatever the driver wants to do. This is impossible with an automatic transmission and even a semi-auto. In automatic cars, the computer will always override the driver. I’ve tried an automatic in semi-auto mode and tried to hold 2nd gear to roll a signal light and the transmission shifted to 1st automatically. I got so upset, I just put it in auto mode. I drove a 997 Porsche auto and it was awful. When you apply full throttle, there’s a lag because the computer is used to normal driving and gets confused. On a side note, I also dislike rev-matching manual transmissions because that’s something all drivers should know how to do, and it’s not difficult. Also, there are situations where you don’t want to rev-match, like if you want to lock the rear wheels to lose traction.
    To drive a manual in freeway traffic is different from driving auto. You must leave a big gap to the car in front and hold 2nd or 3rd gear as long as possible. If you drive a manual stop and go, it will be too much clutch work. Manuals are a little more work, but the fun of driving manuals more than makes up for it.

  8. Jeremy A. says:

    A mid-90s Camry wagon. It’s got the reliability and ease of repair of a Toyota, the looks have aged well, and one could say the car is ‘handsome’ now, the ride is very good if the shocks are in good shape, and if you get a sunroof model, you can cruise in style with your automatic transmission and scads of space for people or cargo.

  9. f31roger says:

    Bias incoming…

    I am in the same boat sorta. My wife can’t drive MT. So for the longest and up until now, I’ve gotten Automatic because of her.

    M30s never came MT, so it’s easy to choise that. But she drove my convertible M30 in Vancouver BC and loved it!

  10. Jim Klein says:

    Don’t fight the power! Just go with the flow and choose…the 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser, the most modern, easy-to-live-with, everyday drivable yet still 25 years old LC generation! While you carve corners through the canyons in your on-road JNC, Mrs. Ben will just drive straight over the mountain that you are driving around and meet you at the end of the next canyon in her off-road JNC. It can also bring the snacks, the spare wheels and tires, or, if the autocrosser is really prepared and no longer fit for public roads, the trailer that it rides on between events. Everybody wins.

    I’m firmly convinced that off-roading culture has exploded over the last decade or two due to the fun roads being too clogged, too slow, too “enforced”, and not family oriented enough (i.e. you can’t bring them all with you). Going off the roads is a whole different challenge and perhaps even more interesting in obviously very different ways.

  11. dankan says:

    The SVX and Cosmo are brilliant ideas, and I think the winner this week should be one of them.

    The non-25 year answer is the Lexus LFA, but I think that the great drivers cars are not the cars, but the drives you had along the way. So, after using that corny line, a beater, auto Corolla could be a great drivers car if you’ve been having a wonderful time making memories behind the wheel even if you haven’t been nailing every apex and braking late into every hairpin on the touge. So, whatever autotragic car you had fun in counts, regardless of its sporting merits

  12. crank_case says:

    Not been fortunate enough to experience one myself, but legendfary car journalist LJK Setright was a fan of both automatics and the Toyota Soarer


  13. Streetspirit says:

    Wonder civic with the Hondamatic is the way to go, it’s quirky, fun and engaging without being a hassle if you just wanna go from A to B. With it’s L, star and OD gearing (talk about random) it’s perfect for learning to shift because if you leave it in OD at the lights you’l be moving in 8-10 business days and keeping it in L or star to long has a lovely warning chime in the form of a 1.5 single jingle!

  14. Bryan Kitsune says:

    If it seems I haven’t given an answer, well, I think that’s my answer.

  15. Ian G. says:

    Bunch of Manual elitists in this group. My favorite and most reliable car I’ve owned is my old VW MKV R32 with the DSG. That transmission was perfect. I also daily drive my Honda Element and its just fine as auto.

    I’ve had manual cars my whole life but the the one exception was my ’88 Supercharged MR2 AWll. Dubbed the auto-magic, it was a lot of fun and served me a good couple of years as a daily and fun auto-x/track toy. Fun trivia, the automatic MR2 was the fast 0-30 mph car offered in the states during that time. Like I said, it was one fun ride.

  16. MikeRL411 says:

    My 67RL411. Still going strong with the British automatic Borg Warner [still used in Europe so parts still available.[

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