5 Speed vs 6 Speed Transmission: Key Differences You Shouldn’t Miss

Over years, the automobile industry introduced an extra gear to their manual and automatic transmissions. This explains the shift from 5-speed to 6-speed transmissions with the aim to maintain power and fuel economy throughout the rpm range. 

The main difference between the 5 speed and 6 speed manual transmission is the number of speeds. While the 5-speed has five different gears, the 6-speed has six gears. Also, the 6-speed transmissions come with several benefits such as higher cruising speed on highways making it more popular. However, it all comes down to the driver and his experience with a manual transmission. 

This article highlights some of the differences between 5-speed and 6-speed vehicles. Read on for more insight. 

Differences Between a 5-Speed and 6-Speed Transmission

5 speed vs 6 speed

With some experience driving stick, there are differences that come up when switching between a 5-speed and a 6-speed vehicle. For starters, the main dissimilarity between the two is the number of speeds.

The 5-speed has five forward gears while the 6-speed has six. Moreover, you tend to shift more when using the 6-speed transmission since its gears are more nuanced. In the 6-speed car, it is quicker to shift between gears. 

Another notable difference comes in when you are cruising. Often on open highways, drivers tend to drive at 65mph or more. The sixth gear makes it possible as it is essentially an overdrive.

6-Speed Transmission

6-speed is a term in the automotive world that refers to a transmission with six forward gears. The first three gears are usually underdrive gears and work to multiply torque from the engine. The fifth and sixth gears are the overdrive gears that reduce the rpm that the driveshaft spins.

The common vehicles with such transmissions were the traditional manual units in that the driver had to press the clutch to change gears. Recently, there are now 6-speed automatic cars in the market as well. 

This type of transmission made its way into the industry in the 1990s in high-performance vehicles. It involved a three-shaft transmission that is conveniently compact and lightweight with a length of 345mm and weight 46kg. Moreover, it incorporates several special features that give the driver a pleasant gear-shifting experience. 

On top of that, this type of transmission is designed with a large spread of 6.7. This large spread plays the role of ensuring there is adequate tractive power and at the same time allows a reduction in engine speed.

This design reduces drag torque and hence facilitates easy gear-shifting when the temperatures are low. 

Key Advantages of 6 Speed

  • It offers a massive increase in acceleration 
  • It delivers more power anytime you need it regardless of the road speed
  • This transmission offers a quieter and more relaxed highway cruising 
  • Drivers enjoy a significantly improved fuel economy 
  • It has reduced engine wear

Key Disadvantages of 6 Speed 

  • 6-speed vehicles do not come cheaply 

5-Speed Transmission 

In the case of a five-speed transmission, there are five forward gears. It has all the forward gears synchronized to ensure smooth operation. Moreover, it comes with a lockout that does not allow shifting directly from the fifth to the reverse gear. Anytime you are shifting up or down, you need to ensure that the clutch is pressed all the way for the shift, and then gradually released. 

The manual models made their debut in the late 1970s and were usually installed in sports cars. This type of transmission became more popular in the 1980s. The 5-speed automatic transmission offers the best of both worlds by providing the ease of use offered by an automatic transmission and the sportiness and increased fuel economy of a manual transmission. 

Key Advantages of 5 Speed

  • 5-speed transmissions allow the engine to run at a lower RPM
  • They save on fuel 
  • They are high-performance cars and ensure smooth operation 
  • It has a lockout so you cannot directly shift from fifth to reverse

Key Disadvantages of 5 Speed

  • There is engine noise 
  • It is more susceptible to engine wear 

5-Speed vs 6-Speed Transmissions

These types of transmissions differ in different aspects as outlined below. 

Common 5-Speed and 6-Speed Vehicles

Most of the consumer automobiles that were manufactured with manual transmissions tended to be 5-speeds. The higher-end cars that came with powerful engines and finer components were often 6-speed. 


6-speed vehicles are more effective when driving at highway speeds. The 6-speed transmission., come with an extra speed that is not found in their 5-speed counterparts. This allows the engine to run at a lower RPM to save on fuel. 

Recent Developments 

Since the 1990s, the 6-speed transmission was installed in vehicles that were designed to be more energy efficient. Other high-performance autos were mostly 5-speed. 

Shifting Differences

In 5-speed, it is recommended to accelerate above 25mph in the fourth gear but for 6-speed, you can accelerate above 35mph in the fifth gear.


The six-speed automatic transmission is designed to use six different gears. With the extra speed, you get to enjoy the best combination of fuel economy and power. And since the car has an automatic transmission, it does the changing of gears for you—you only need to drive. 

The five-speed manual transmission is characterized by all forward gears synchronized to offer a smooth operation. Anytime you are shifting between gears, the clutch pedal should be pushed all the way. 

There is really not much of a difference between the 5- and 6-speed. However, most of the new cars today tend to be 6-speed manuals. For older cars, the 5-speeds are more common.

Final Words

Manual shifting is a relatively intuitive skill set. Therefore, there is no easy advice to offer a driver who wants to change from a 5-speed to a 6-speed. It all comes down to the driver getting a feel of the engine to know what works best for them.

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