My husband wanted me to share with you that he does 135 miles a day on I-95 going through Stamford and Bridgeport - "The Highway of Death" as he affectionately calls it. He manages. It's all about gas milage for us, which was one reason for the 5 speed. We had a '95 Explorer auto trans which always had tranny problems. It kind of soured us on autos. We just gave a '98 Escort with a manual to my in-laws with 176+K on it (and they're thrilled to have it), and it still has the original clutch. GO MANUALS
Seriously-there's something for everyone. It's all good.