Yeah, it used to be a choice of a 5 speed that would last forever if you drove it right and be good on gas, or a 3/4 speed crappy automatic that got worse gas mileage, required fluid changes, and would probably die and cost you a bunch of money at some point.Technology caught up.
Computer control of nearly everything. Autos with 6, 7, 8 gears instead of 3 or 4, etc.
Now the damn autos have better gas mileage than the manuals. And they're reliable - like the ZF 8HP transmission that's in our Q5 is in damn near everything these days and is pretty much proven reliable. Coulda got the dual clutch S-Tronic thing instead but it would have cost more and given zero benefit.