I can already envision the recalls

Have you seen the gear “shifter” on the new 2018 GMC Terrain? GMC though it best to ditch any form of traditional gear selection method and go for a combination of buttons and triggers. Worst yet, the buttons are all similarly sized and located below everything on the center stack. What were the designers thinking?

Okay, so GMC explicitly explained itself at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show where the new Terrain debuted. The official press release reads:

“GMC’s new Electronic Precision Shift enables more storage room in the center console by replacing the conventional transmission shifter with electronically controlled gear selection consisting of intuitive push buttons and pull triggers.”

So the idea is to free space in the center console for other things. That’s a noble cause worth respect and admiration. However, this attempt seems half-baked at best. It creates an entirely new shifting mechanism for drivers to learn. Granted, GMC is hardly the first automaker to branch out on shifter design, but this is certainly the most different yet unappealing concept.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been a big offender. Its electronic shifter in the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Jeep Grand Cherokee has been highly denounced. A national recall was even issued to replace the shifter with a better design. Lincoln has also had issues with its out-of-the-box, push-button shifter. Its dash-mounted buttons had to be redesigned so people would stop mistaking Engine On/Off switch for Sport mode.

Admittedly though, FCA’s rotary shifter found throughout its lineup, including the Ram 1500 pickups, is a refreshingly simple design that’s easy to learn. Jaguar Land Rover products share a similar design. Honda also has a respectable “different” shifter design. It uses uniquely shaped buttons that are not easily confused and can be operated without looking.

I have to admit I have not tried GMC’s new shifter for myself since, well, no body outside GMC has driven the 2018 Terrain. After a long look, I can imagine the shifter would best be used with the right index finger operating Reverse, the ring finger operating Drive, and the thumb dedicated to Park. Maybe Of course, that doesn’t solve the issue of having to reach for the manual shifting controls, located almost near the passenger’s left knee.

Anyway, GMC’s choice to use a proprietary shifter design will do one of two things: become a familiar facet to GM vehicles thanks to its simple operation, or cause confusion and lead to possible safety recalls like FCA is currently dealing with. Here’s hoping for the former.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


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