I’ve started to notice a theme in many of the new cars and trucks, including SUVs…
Confusing automatic-transmission shifters. Not talking about stick shifts here; those are still, mercifully, relatively straightforward. But the good old park-reverse-neutral-drive setups of old, when you simply moved a shifter up and down, have given way to more elaborate systems. In some cases, such as when the shifter is replaced by buttons.
But when the shifter is modified to be more of a joystick-type interface, it doesn’t always make sense and requires practice to sort out. Sometimes it doesn’t get sorted out, as was reportedly the case in 2016 when actor Anton Yelchin, who played Mr. Chekov in the rebooted “Star Trek” movies, was killed in a freak accident in Los Angeles when he thought his Jeep was in park when it was in neutral. The car rolled, pinning him against his mailbox. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had recalled Yelchin’s model-ahhhh …a little late! Along with over 1 million others, because of a confusing shift design. So in some cases, these new shifter designs are more than an annoyance — they’re a danger.
Manuals haven’t changed much in decades — only that gears have been added beyond the traditional four or five. But stick shifts are a dying breed, and driving them is a dying art. Carmakers provide them as an option, mainly for motoring enthusiasts, and install them in sports cars. Column shifters are rarely seen these days. But of all the options, they are perhaps the simplest, given that you have to lever them out and toward you slightly before putting the vehicle in gear. The gear itself is usually displayed on the instrument panel, directly in front of the driver.
What really confuses people is that, the consumer was asking for them. They’re a consequence of transmissions becoming more sophisticated and manufacturers wanting to innovate with their interiors and also free up a bit of space. The joysticks are typically more compact than what they replace, although, the column shifter is the best choice if you want the shifter to be out of the way-but more fun towards the floor-mid console.
Article credit: Business Insider
Photo credit: Business Insider