Manual or A/T, but probably A/T. I'm looking at buying a 3 gen wagon. Seems like there are far more '97s for sale that other years. Any improvements worth mentioning. By far my biggest concern is the A/T itself, since "they say" there is really no way to check them if they generally function OK on the test drive including hills and HWY, and its an expensive unit to replace, and I hear even a quality re-built is never as good as factory new. Anything in particular to investigate when buying 3rd gen, particularly an A/T and particularly a wagon? Is there any reasonably priced way to "bullet proof" a 3rd gen A/T. Be sweet to be able to tow a small trailer or boat and not worry about hills in the Boondocks or even the infamous Hills of San Francisco, where I probably be doing some construction shortly.