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Should I get a paddle shifter in my next car?

Should I get a paddle shifter in my next car?Should I get a paddle shifter in my next car?

Q. I’ve seen paddle shifters in more vehicles these days, and I was wondering how much of a difference or benefit they are to the overall driving experience?—Bob Buttaro, San Diego

A. Paddle shifters allow you to quickly manually override the gear selection in an automatic transmission without taking your hands off the wheel. That can be a benefit if you need to use engine braking on a long, steep hill, or you can use the paddles to access more of the engine power in a spirited driving style. Paddle shifters mostly come on sports or sporty cars or trim lines that are more aimed at enthusiasts. For most people, however, paddle shifters are a frivolous feature.

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This article also appeared in the August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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