10 Best Cars with Paddle Shifters Under $10k

Paddle shifters are slowly but surely gaining ground in the sport-enhanced or sport-tuned inexpensive cars. 

They are targeting a niche for those that want performance cars on a small budget.

Below, we take a look at ten affordable cars with paddle shifters. We also look at what they do, how they are used, and the pros and cons of having paddle shifters.

1. 2009 Acura TSX 

The 2009 Acura TSX is a compact entry-level front-wheel drive, powered by a standard 2.4-liter with an output of 201 horsepower.

Transmissions are a 6-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic.

The automatic transmission features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The Acura TSX comes standard with Bluetooth, 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a sunroof.

A Technology Package adds navigation and a rearview camera. It also upgrades the sound system to a 10-speaker Acura/ELS system.

Standard safety features include stability control, traction control, airbags, and antilock brakes.

Also read: Is Acura a Luxury Brand? (5 Reasons Why it is)

2. 2012 Hyundai Veloster

The 2012 Hyundai Veloster is a three-door hatchback powered by a 1.6-liter GDI engine with a modest output of 138 horsepower. It is not much in terms of power, but this is on a light body, with above-average fuel economy. Three trims are offered; base, style, and tech.

Transmission is a standard manual or an optional 6-speed Dual Clutch (DCT), with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters to allow the driver to control the transmission.

Standard equipment includes a 196-watt audio system, a 7-inch touch screen, remote keyless entry, and 17-inch alloy wheels, among others.

The style trim comes with a leather steering,18-inch wheels, leatherette seats, and a panoramic sunroof.

Safety features include stability control, anti-lock brakes, and airbags in the front, sides, and roof.

3. 2012 Kia Optima

The Optima is a mid-size family sedan that is offered in seven trim levels.

Engines are a 200-horsepower 2.4-liter GDI, 274-horsepower 2.0-liter GDI turbo, and a 2.4-liter hybrid. Transmission is automatic on all trims except the base LX.

Standard features on the base LX trim include Bluetooth, air-conditioning, cruise control, powered doors, locks, and windows. Dual-zone climate control comes as part of an optional package. 

Other optional packages add features such as navigation, an 8-speaker Infinity sound system, and a rearview camera. 

The EX 2.4-liter trim adds a number of standard features to the LX, such as a push-button start with a smart key, dual-zone climate control, and leather steering.

The top trim 2.0T SX comes with steering wheel paddle shifters, metal pedals, rear spoiler, and a number of options including a panoramic sunroof.

Also read: 2-Door vs. 4-Door Cars: Which is Better? (Compared)

4. 2010 Ford Taurus

The large Ford Taurus sedan comes with a Duratec 3.5-liter V6 that churns out 263 horsepower and an Ecoboost V6 with a staggering output of 365 horsepower. This is a lot of power for a rather small body, making the sedan very powerful and fast.

Transmission is a 6-speed automatic on all models. The front-wheel-drive is standard, whilst all-wheel drive is also available.

All trims come with paddle shifters, except the entry-level Taurus SE.

The entry-level Taurus SE comes with manual air-conditioning, a tilt steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a 6-speaker radio, keyless entry, and 17-inch wheels, among others.

The SEL trim comes with 18-inch wheels, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Taurus Limited adds a leather interior, SYNC hands-free infotainment, 19-inch wheels, and numerous other features.

Adaptive cruise control, auto high beam headlamps, remote start, 12-speaker Sony audio, climate control, and Sirius Travel Link, are some options for the Limited trim.

The top trim Taurus SHO comes with the powerful 3.5-liter twin-turbo Ecoboost V6, AWD, sports suspension, leather seats, aluminum pedals, and 19-inch premium wheels.

There is also an optional package that adds performance brake pads, calibrated steering, and 20-inch painted wheels.

Safety features are canopy airbags, collision warning, blind spot, electronic stability and traction control, and anti-lock brakes.

Also read: 3 Best Fords for the Money (All Costs Calculated)

5. Infiniti G

The Infiniti G is a mid-size sedan offered in various trims. 

The entry-level is the G25.

All Infiniti G models feature the ‘Infiniti Studio on Wheels’ audio system by Bose, leather steering, and aluminum trim.

The base G25 is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 with an output of 218 horsepower. Transmission is a standard 7-speed automatic. 

Drive train is rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Some notable standard features include automatic climate control, a 7-inch screen, High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-functional xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, and traction control.

The higher and sporty model G37 comes with a very powerful 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, and a 7-speed automatic.

Magnesium paddle shifters are standard on the G37 as part of the Sport Package. This is for the G37x All-Wheel-Drive models.

6. 2010 Hyundai Sonata

The 2012 Hyundai Sonata front-wheel-drive sedan is offered in a number of trims. The major engine is the 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharger with a rating of 274 horsepower.

It comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Technology features include keyless entry with push-button start, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth.

The optional Navigation and Sunroof package adds a 7-inch touch screen, rearview camera, and a 7-speaker Dimension audio system.

Also read: Does Hyundai Hold its Value? (Depreciation Charts)

7. 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer CJ VR-X 

The 2008 Lancer VRX is a sport-tuned road performer loved by many. Power is derived from a 2.0-liter MIVEC engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). 

The CVT variant comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters that assist in managing the engine power and transmission, especially in Sport mode. 

The Sports Performance is enhanced by a sport-tuned suspension, larger front and rear brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, and alloy sports pedals.

Notable features include keyless entry, automatic headlights and wipers, and automatic air-conditioning.

In terms of audio, for the audiophiles, there is an option of a 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio. 

Safety features include cruise control, brake assist, traction, and stability control.

8. 2007 Golf GTI Mk 5 

If you love small, powerful, fast cars, the 2007 Golf GTI is the car for you.

The Golf GTI Mk5 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that churns out 200 horsepower. Transmission is a 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with paddle shifters.

It is kitted like a sports car, including metal pedals, a fat leather steering wheel, and a light clutch. Suspension is independent, both front and rear.

Features include dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloys, daytime running lights, a navigation system, heated leather front seats, and cruise control. 

The sound system includes 10-speakers, with controls mounted on the steering wheel.

Also read: How Much Does a MK7 GTI Weigh? (In Detail)

9. Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris comes with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine. 

An option is available to mate it with a 7-step Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with a manual mode and steering-mounted paddle shifters. 

The option is available for the top VX trim, which rides on 15-inch wheels. 

Other features on the VX trim are leather seats, stability control, hill assist control, and cruise control.

The Toyota Yaris offers good comfort and practicality.

Also read: Are Toyota Parts Expensive? (Pricing)

 10. 2015 Honda Fit

The Honda Fit/Jazz is one of the most popular Honda sub-compacts. It is very spacious, although externally it looks small.

Many love its rear-seat folding technology. 

Four trims are available.

The base trim is the LX which is powered by a 130 horsepower 1.5-liter engine. Transmission is a 6-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

Next up is the EX. It is the same with the LX, except that the CVT comes with Dual-Mode Paddle shifters. This means that the CVT’s automatic operation can be switched to manual control, using paddles behind the steering wheel.

The EX-L trim uses the same technology as the EX, except that its standard CVT adds a sport mode. The interior changes to more premium, including leather heated front seats.

The top EX-Lwith navigation adds, as the name suggests, the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System, among other premium features. 

What Do Paddle Shifters Do?

Paddle shifters are used to over-ride the automatic gear shifting of an automatic gearbox. This allows the driver to take an active role in gear-changing, and therefore improve driving performance. 

This may apply when you still want more power from the engine, at a lower gear, such as when overtaking or accelerating. Without the paddle shifters, the automatic transmission may shift to a higher gear, resulting in loss of torque.

Paddle shifters ensure that all the power from the engine is fully utilized by trusting man over a computer!

The paddle shifters are found behind the steering wheel, and allow the driver to easily shift the gear up or down without taking their eyes off the road. 

Paddle shifters were initially used in sports cars, but are increasingly finding their way to sport-tuned models.

How to Use Paddle Shifters?

Paddle shifters are used to change automatic gears without the use of a clutch. All you need to do is simply pull the shifter or pedal on the right side of the steering wheel down (-), or the one on the right to gear up (+). 

Each vehicle has a detailed recommendation on exactly when to change to the next gear, depending on speed and required torque.

What are the Pros and Cons of Paddle Shifters?

Pros of Paddle Shifters

  1. Improved Car Performance

The paddle shifters are an attempt to marry automatic gear shifting with the manual. 

The advantage is that the driver derives optimum driving experience and improves engine efficiency.

  1. Active Driver Control of the Car

For those who love driving, paddle shifters are a compromise between manual and automatic transmission.  

  1. Gear Changing Flexibility 

Paddle shifters give the driver the benefit and option of manual or automatic shifting, without having to use the clutch. 

Cons of Paddle Shifters

  1. Not The Best Of Both Worlds

The absence of a clutch means that the use of paddle shifters is not the same as driving a car with a manual gearbox. In addition, there is a delayed response. 

The computer still plays a role in when the shifting should happen.

  1. Unnecessary Cost

Few use them. Are they necessary? Most owners buy cars with paddle shifters because they look nicer and drive better, but hardly use or are aware of the technology.