By on March 6, 2017

2017 Chrysler 300 Interior, Image: FCA

Once upon a time, a three-on-the-tree shifter or a floor-mounted unit with a lever the length of a ski pole was the norm for rowing through the gears. Then GM graced us with the automatic transmission, and the world soon grew used to a column-mounted shifter with a selector gauge mounted atop the steering shaft, smack dab in front of the driver’s eyes.

With a few exceptions caused by automakers trying to be sexy, this trend carried over into console-mounted shifters. Americans liked their beer cold, their country free, and their PRNDL choices straightforward and obvious.

Unfortunately, with mechanical linkages no longer required, a shifter can now be anything the automaker wants it to be, leading some companies — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles especially — into new and potentially deadly territory. With backlash against unorthodox shifters growing, it seems FCA has received the message.

FCA’s first clue that perhaps drivers weren’t ready for the next big thing in automatic transmission gear selection came in early 2016, when hundreds of rollaway incidents, dozens of injuries and a possible high-profile death prompted a recall of 1.1 million vehicles equipped with confusing monostable-style shifters.

With that shifter, no longer in use at FCA, drivers sometimes exited their vehicles after mistakenly believing the vehicle was placed in park. Other automakers continue to offer models with levers that return to the same position after the driver selects a new gear. Unfortunately for FCA, the controversy didn’t end there.

Last December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into 1 million Ram 1500 and Dodge Durango vehicles equipped with rotary-style shifters. A different shifter, but the same rollaway problem. Alarmingly, the majority of drivers reporting rollaways claim they clearly remembered placing the vehicle in park.

The distrust surrounding the shifters only grew when Ford announced the addition of an “auto park” feature to its Fusion sedan, which also carries a rotary shift knob. Then Consumer Reports piped up.

The consumer advocacy publication said last week that it has begun docking points from vehicles equipped with potentially confusing gearshifts. Vehicles sold without a PRNDL layout or auto park feature should expect lower scores in its annual rankings. It now looks like the kitchen’s simply too hot for FCA. After Consumer Reports dropped its bomb, FCA seemed to throw in the towel.

“FCA US acknowledges the observations of Consumer Reports and is reviewing its shifter strategy,” the automaker said in a statement.

Whether this means the addition of an auto park feature or a return to traditional shifters remains to be seen. Either way, few automakers can afford to be seen slipping in consumer rankings, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see other manufacturers follow suit.

[Source: Automotive News] [Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

99 Comments on “As Backlash Against Oddball Shifters Grows, Fiat Chrysler Mulls a Return to Tradition...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Sees 2018 Terrain – makes “I’m watching you” gesture in the direction of GM.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      I dunno, of all the new shifter designs, the Terrain’s looks like one of the more idiotproof ones. The controls are laid out P-R-N-D-L (albeit horizontally), Park is its own button, and you merely press it to put the car in Park. I’m unsure whether it has autopark.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    What is really strange for me, is Fiat-Chrysler learned this lesson with Jeep Grand Cherokee. With introduction of ZF 8 speed, they first introduced some strange shift lever in the Jeep to replace the Mercedes five speed transmission shift lever. After there were issues (people complained) and Chekov died, Jeep replaced that idiotic BMW looking thing with a classic looking shifter in current Jeep Grand Cherokee. They should use similar in Chrysler and Ram instead of that knob.

    I really blame BMW with their idiotic intro of their transmission lever for all this mess. I figure it probably costs Fiat-Chrysler less if they have the Jeep lever (scale) in all their entries instead of this knob thing. Same applies to GM and Lincoln and Audi and Acura and Prius.

    Caddy is absolute pits. Look at the levers in their CTS, CT6, and XT5. Three different levers. It must cost them money to have that many variations, instead of a simple one type that can be old school and used in all their entries.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      both the transmission *and* that monostable shifter are ZF designs. Audi uses the monostable as well.

      I still maintain that the primary design flaw with it was that it *looked* like a traditional gear selector, but did not *work* like one.

      buttons, knobs, etc. with clear indicators don’t have that design flaw.

      • 0 avatar
        John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

        Agreed, Jim. It isn’t like you step out of your 2001 Altima into a new Fusion and are baffled by something that *looks* similar, but works far differently.

        So, you get into a Fusion (dial) or MKZ (buttons) out of your old school, and realize immediately that this is *not* what you’re used to. No way can you just blindly treat this like any other car, assuming it will behave accordingly.

        So, you are forced to pay attention to it. To see “oh, its the same thing, its just buttons/a dial, I’ve used buttons/ dials in cars since I learned to drive in 1990s. I just select what I want and that’s it. Okay, R, reverse, and we’re reversing! Yes. Okay now D, [selects “D”] and we’re off!”

        You’re forced to make a mental note because it is not in anyway similar to what you’re used to in a shifter. Quite unlike the Prius up until recently, to include the Monostable now. It takes top spot on confusing shift leavers. That’s now a deadly place to be. ZF shot itself with that one. Don’t they make that lovely 9 speed every one raves about in FCA products (among others)? German arrogance strikes again.

        Time to stop the confusion and either make it just like any old console shifter since anyone can remember, or force the customer to learn a new way from scratch with a design that isn’t able to be ignored and yet allows the car to still function in some way (until you think its safe to “park” on an incline and get out when its not).

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      The XT5 shifter is atrocious. Why they designed something that looks like a shifter but doesn’t act like a shifter is baffling.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “I really blame BMW with their idiotic intro of their transmission lever for all this mess.”

      You should, more accurately, blame the complete morons that don’t take 20 seconds to figure out these shifters.

      They are not complicated. Being different does not mean they are automatically that it’s complicated.

      People have no problem spending hours to learn a new phone or gadget but when it comes to their shifters, they want us stuck in the 50s. If you can’t take 20 seconds to figure out a shifter, clearly the act of driving is too much a challenge for your feeble little mind and you should be shunned to public transportation.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I applaud FCA for the offering of navy dashboard and cream leather with wood, in the finest brougham tradition.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      we won’t have true Broughamhood until we get cathouse red throughout the interior.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I agree. More red interiors, following BMWs lead.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          and I mean *all* red, not red seats and door inserts in an otherwise black interior.

        • 0 avatar
          Carfan94

          @Corey

          There is no way that probe is brand new. Look at the condition of the thing. The Tires? The Headliner? Engine? Carpet? That thing has more than 53 miles on it. Also looks like its in a shady place.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Definite dry rot on the seats, both driver’s and the backs of the back seats. Looks good but in serious need of replacement. It also seems strange that the right-side profile shot seems to show some sort of pedestal under the car, as though it were being supported. I’d also question whether or not it can run, considering the oxidation on the aluminum portions of the engine. I’d worry that it’s due for an engine swap.

            The mileage might be genuine (doubtful) but it will still need significant work before I’d trust it on the roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        Agreed, JimZ, whorehouse red velour makes the interior of any sedan look just so much better! Seriously. Automakers, are you listening?

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          I’m afraid I cannot concur.

          My Tempo LX had red interior. That and its automatic were two strikes against it.

          I still have a dark grey Tempo dash in storage in excellent condition with no cracks. I was planning on doing a black with dark grey two tone interior. I always pictured it with four buckets and a custom flow-through center console. I would still like to do that in a car one day. No, I won’t just buy the Maxima that came with that option, lol.

          Actually, I found a 1984 Oldsmobile 98 Regency sedan that I would love to do a four place interior in. Would look amazing next to a Delta 88 Royale Braughm coupe. And an Achieva W-41 coupe, an Alero 2.4/5mt coupe, G body Cutlass Supreme, big block Holiday Coupe Lol. I’m such a sucker for Olds. And coupes apparently. Well, guess I should had a first gen Aurora to the list. It would pass for a coupe in 2017 if it didn’t in 1997. I did enjoy driving that car.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      But where is the button tufted velour?

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I love that interior. Feels like a Brooks Brothers catalog.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    It’s not so much that they are oddball as that they are poorly designed. It’s too easy to get into the wrong gear. That could be solved through thoughtful use of detents.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Bingo.

      I rented a lot of Chrysler products that had the monostable shifter and it was terrible in every car I drove. Its almost impossible to take it out of park, put it in reverse and then put it in drive without ending up in the wrong gear. There is no discernible feel between moving it from park to reverse, park to neutral or park to drive. In variably I’d end up in neutral or the wrong gear every time I moved the car out of park.

      • 0 avatar
        OzCop

        My Ram pickup with the knob does indeed have a notch for each selection…23000 miles and it’s never been a problem. My guess is most people who have issues with the knob shifter may be moving the knob too fast after startup. I have done that but it simply fails to go into gear, particularly starting it, immediately turning the knob to R to back out of the garage. Happened twice, but I found if I start it, wait a second or two, it isn’t a problem. I like the fact it frees up space on the console…
        When I first got the truck, I pulled into the garage, and since it is a truck, pulled up close enough to my work bench to allow the bumper sensors to light up red. Then I put it in reverse and use the back up camera and roll back a few inches to a point I am certain will allow the door to close. I did fail to roll it back to park once…no damage or anything, but I can see where a non car person would have to really get used to how it works.
        And then of course, Consumer Reports, whom I detest, has to get their two cents in…screw’em…

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Or maybe a little observation of the dashboard? The FCA cars very clearly display what gear you’re in right in front of your eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        You’re right Vulpine. You can clearly see that you’re in neutral when you’re trying to shift into reverse. It is an unnecessary annoyance trying to hit the right gear.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          “It is an unnecessary annoyance trying to hit the right gear.”

          Not to mention being judgemental and intolerant. Those other gears have feelings, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Poor boys. Getting annoyed because you have to pay attention to your driving. How sad.

          • 0 avatar
            Acd

            Paying attention to driving isn’t the problem here; the problem is having to move the lever three or four or five times when in every other car it takes two moves to shift from park to reverse to drive. If there is a way to easily and smoothly do it I haven’t figured it out. Apparently many other people haven’t either.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            And here I thought you enjoyed “rowing your own gears”. It’s not all that different, honestly; though I agree it doesn’t quite offer the same tactile sensations.

            I used “manual mode” in my Fiat 500 quite frequently. I use it in my Renegade too. Strangely, however, the 9-speed in my Renegade is remarkably effective at holding speed even in a long downgrade in cruise control, where most automatics just freewheel and let you fly.

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    The Ram 1500’s rotary for the ZF is the most idiotic of them all. There are a ton of Ram owners who swear up and down that it’s the best thing since sliced bread since it “saves so much space”. But I don’t normally put things where the shift level is when the truck is in “D”, that I need that space that desperately. I guess if you are an Uber driver and have 5 smart phones it makes a difference?

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Can’t beat PRNDL on the tree for safety and convenience. Good enough for the Bluesmobile, good enough for me. All else is pretentious fail.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The XTS has it on the tree, and also has a giant console which is full of nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “a giant console which is full of nothing”

        For cans of La Croix and extra pouches of Beech-Nut.

        Edit: HEY YOU COREY LEWIS! I googled XTS and got a stinkin’ see-dan. Ewww… I trust you meant XT5, no?

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          I prefer Cheerwine.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “I prefer Cheerwine.”

            That sounds pretty skinnyjeans. Ain’t noticed it around here.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            It’s old so I figured you’d know it.

            “Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink produced by Carolina Beverage Corporation of Salisbury, North Carolina. It has been produced since 1917, claiming to be “the oldest continuing soft drink company still run by the same family”.”

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      “It’s got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It’s got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas.”

      Used that quote last week, but it’s still a classic.

    • 0 avatar
      tsoden

      If consumers are so worried about losing precious space in their car and trucks, why wouldn’t the column mounted shifter make a return? Why did it go in the first place???

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        It needed to be put to other uses, like cruise control, wipers, washers, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Not to mention bigger and bigger infotainment screens. Also the column shifter typically went with a front bench seat which went away partially because of airbag/safety regs.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Well, there’s always the old Chrysler push button shifter. That doesn’t take up much room on the dash, or it didn’t on my ’63 Newport.

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            I know what you’re talking about. I learned to drive on a 1963 Dodge Custom 880 sedan, a really great car which had the push-buttons on the dash. Then, a few years later, my first car was a 1963 Chrysler 300 Sport 2-door sedan which also had them. The push-button automatic transmission worked great every time. Wish they would have brought it back on the new cars.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I have a Ram 1500 with the older 6-speed and the steering column-mounted lever, and one with the new rotary dial.

    The dial works fine, and I personally don’t believe the ‘it was in park but it moved anyway’ stories. The thing is, the lever lets you select a position without looking, and it’s a so much more _satisfying_ experience that I wish we had the lever in both trucks.

    I have also experienced the Chekov-killer paddle in a rental Charger, and do agree that thing is very confusing. There are no positions on it anymore that indicate what you have selected – how that design passed QA (and Legal) is a mystery to me.

    Of course, we wouldn’t have any of these problems if everyone just drove manuals….

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      You hit the nail on the head, my friend. Re: your quote “of course, we wouldn’t have these problems if everybody just drove manuals…”

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      ” There are no positions on it anymore that indicate what you have selected – how that design passed QA (and Legal) is a mystery to me.”

      Did you ever think to look at the dashboard where in bright, plain letters you see P or R or N or D, depending on what gear you’re in? My ’14 Fiat 500 did that and my current Jeep Renegade does it. Not only that, but if I shift into “manual” mode, it actually shows me the number of the gear I’m in–without ever having to turn my head to the side to look down at the lever.

    • 0 avatar
      OzCop

      Give that man a medal…Manuals forever…

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I really don’t mind the shape or mechanics of the gear selector so long as it follows the PRNDL standard and has a strong, positive engagement. Haptic feedback is critical.

    I can see a good argument for rotary dials or push-button selectors for packaging and interior reasons. Get the big lever out of the center console to make more space for other things.

  • avatar
    kwong

    I’ve had what was what I thought to be a standard shifter for most of my life…a “H” pattern manual transmission with reverse next to the right of 4th gear. In the late 90s, my brother’s E36 M3 had reverse at the left of 1st gear and required a extra tug to get access. Both my MK4 VW Golf TDI and my mom’s 2015 Mazda6 has reverse next to 1st gear, but requires you to press the shift knob down before getting access to the “gate”. My wife’s Rx400h has a zig-zag pattern to get from “P” to “B.” Her 2013 Fiat 500e has a stupid push button “gear” selector that forces you to look down at the button illuminations to make sure you’re set to go in the proper direction. We’ve had issues where you swear you pressed the “R” or “D” button hard enough, but it’s still in the prior selection. Our 06 Silverado 2500HD has the old-school column shifter.

    My point is that even in a traditional manual transmission, nothing appears to be standard. I do wish they stop back stupid shifters though. While small in number there have already been a number of fatalities related to poor shifter design and countless accidents.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Her 2013 Fiat 500e has a stupid push button “gear” selector that forces you to look down at the button illuminations to make sure you’re set to go in the proper direction.”

      Really? My ’14 model Fiat 500 had a conventionally-styled automatic shifter where you could push it to the left to upshift/downshift manually. I had no idea they had anything such as you describe. Must have been the fact that it was an electric-drive model where shifting is irrelevant.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    It’s also become time for the authorities to step in and put a damper on confusing headlight and taillight “art”.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Speaking of confusing headlight art, last week I thought I saw a car flying backwards towards me in a parking lot. No, it was just an idiot driving his Charger with the headlights turned off, and he had replaced the white DRLs with red lights.

      That guy should be in jail, but God forbid you interrupt a cop’s nap to bring it up.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      Put me down for agreeing with you about the weird, strange, unusual and often confusing headlight and taillight designs. I need the headlights and taillights for the most basic and utilitarian of reasons, not to make some kind of fashion statement. What a waste of resources.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        You don’t even get the utilitarian value. Most new headlights have been rated as substandard. That’s pretty bad when your new technology can’t even match sealed beams.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          My 1987 Cutlass and my former 1990 Cadillac Brougham’s old fashioned glass halogen headlights outperform just about any of these stupid projector beam or LED headlights on most modern cars I have driven.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I would disagree on the projector beam, outside of the fact that they are essentially full-time high-beams with a shutter to block the upper portion in low-beam mode. They still blind oncoming drivers if hills or valleys in the road aims the headlamps themselves just that fraction too high.

    • 0 avatar
      TR4

      Look at me, I’m L-E-D, lousy with lin-e-ar-ity.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I like the console-mounted electronic shifter in my Nissan. It uses a pattern like a manual and coincidentally matches the pattern on the non-paddle shifter cars in the household. Reverse, neutral, and forward/first are in the same positions as my son’s Mazda made Scion. You just have to remember the third pedal on the Scion.

  • avatar
    caltemus

    Is there nothing to be said for learning how your car works before you use it?

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      What if it’s an effing rental? Memorize the manuals for anything you might be stuck with?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I’ve been fortunate to find the manual in the glove box in recent rentals, otherwise I’d never figure out the HVAC. Or the radio. The car jockeys at car rentals have lousy taste in music, and apparently dress like eskimos, so I don’t want to be stuck with their settings.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    Toyota has used this odd style shifter where it returns to neutral in the Prius since the Second gen model. The nice thing about THAT shifter is that there IS NO PARK. Park is a button. You hit the park button and all is perfect in the world. So what happens if the driver forgets to press the park button but shuts the car off and walks away? No, the car does not start to roll.. the car actually engages park automatically.

    Why are other manufacturers not mimicking this practice? I mean they do not need to go a far as a park BUTTON… but when the car is turned off, PARK should be auto engaged! It is NOT rocket science!!!

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Golly, doesn’t the operator of the car have any responsibility? The car I learned to drive in had a manual choke for starting on cold mornings, and was older than I was, and I realize that’s too much for people today, but jumpin’ Jiminy Christmas, they’re not supposed to give you a license until you know how to operate the controls.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Less and less every model year it would seem. Why do you thing we must have doors that power themselves shut and autonomous cars and scads of electronic nannies to save us from ourselves?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The concept of manual lever shifting on today’s automatics is ridiculously ludicrous; as such it is inherently difficult if not downright impossible.

    However, it may be possible to have a manual lever that literally locks the transmission when placed in park; physically inserting a bar or a block between gears to prevent any rotation of the driveshaft.

    It’d be quicker, simpler and more intuitive to simply ensure the parking brake is set on all wheels electronically when the shifter is moved to park and/or the engine shut off.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      My brown, 1963 Dodge Dart wagon had that, along with the push buttons. The lever was down in park, and you had to raise it to press the reverse or drive button. before you turned off the engine, you just pushed the lever down, the drive or reverse button popped up, and the buttons didn’t work – the torqueflite was locked in park.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        I remember what you are talking about, and I really get what you are saying, Lorenzo. It worked great, thus, there should be no need to essentially re-invent the wheel. Keep what works, and spend the money on improving things that NEED to be improved. But, I suppose some people are always looking for the newest, latest and greatest innovations, and the automakers feel a need to pander to that crowd which also has the money to afford it. Am speaking of those people who buy a new car every few years, before the “old” car has any real discernible wear and tear. And, something new, yet unneeded, gives the automakers something to brag about in their advertising.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Seriously considered a 2013 Charger, but passed because of the shifter. It didn’t bother as much as the rotary shifter in the ram,it was the fact that I was afraid that if my wife ever borrowed the car, mayhem would occur because of her unfamiliarity with that type of shifter. Seeing the issues over the last 4 years about these types of shifters, my intuition was spot on.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Good decision and very considerate of an alternate driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      Despite what you say, incautious, I feel that the latest generation Charger is a pretty awesome family sedan, even in the 3.6L Pentastar variety with close to 300-hp on tap. The Charger R/T and other high-horsepower variations are even more awesome, IMHO.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    At some point I recall renting a Chrysler with the “monostable” shifter. I found it annoying (not confusing) to operate. Not progress. Have never used a vehicle like the Ram 1500 with the rotary dial. Both my truck and my Honda Pilot have column mounted shifters . . . the truck with a “manual mode” in which you use a little rocker switch to shift up or down. Not as sexy as paddle shifters for the would-be road racers, but equally effective. While towing my travel trailer, I used it a lot.

    One reason to free up console space is to give women a place to park their purse, which otherwise has to go on the seat behind them, or on the passenger side somewhere if there’s no passenger. Since my wife also drives both of these vehicles, this was an important consideration in our purchasing decision.

    I’m not wild about the proliferation of stalks on the steering column, especially for lights (other than a turn signal).

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      Purse space – The 3rd generation CR-V has a gap between the console and the dash, leaving an opening that goes to the floor. My wife puts her purse there, on the floor, in front of the console. It’s her favorite feature in her CR-V.

      As far as automatic shifters go, I prefer the column shifter. 99% of the people who drive automatics never shift them manually so the shifter is touched 3 times during most drives – park to reverse, reverse to drive, and drive to park. So the console layout can be set up for better storage and cupholder placement.

  • avatar
    plee

    I used a dealer loaner over the weekend, a 2017 Fusion with the rotary shifter. It operated fine and I liked the fact that if I turned off ignition while car was still in drive, it went into Park by itself. That should be standard on vehicles with rotary or pushbutton gear selectors.

  • avatar

    My solution: 5 on the floor and a clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Six on the floor; five isn’t enough any more and I’m beginning to think seven or eight might soon be necessary. When cruising at highway speed I seem to keep reaching for another gear because the ratios are much closer together than they used to be.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    A rotary dial is bad because you cannot tell what gear it’s in by feel, other than being at the stops. A “pointer dial” is a much better choice. (A dial where you grip a pointer instead of a circle.)

    On another note, I wonder why more Drivers Ed classes don’t emphasize the parking brake. When I went through drivers ed in the early 90’s, we were told to always use the parking brake, no matter what you are driving. The parking pawl isn’t infallible. (My Mom didn’t get that memo, and when I set the brake in our ’77 Microbus after getting my license, she drove with it on and burned out the drums.)

    This was forever emphasized when one car rolled into another at the neighborhood pool one day while in Park.

    My new CR-V has an electric parking brake, and I have to say, I much prefer the old style of a lever to yank or a pedal to push. When parking the car, it’s no big deal, but when hopping out to fetch something, I like having that positive feedback.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The old yank lever is becoming an embarrassment. Some newer vehicles are using aluminum or pot metal for lightness and the teeth tend to break off or round down over time, which strangely means that the brake won’t fully disengage when you release it. I ran into this myself with one car which forced a replacement after three brake rebuilds in the course of four years until we discovered the cause of the hanging brakes. (I blame Daimler for the problem–using cheap pot metal instead of steel on that gear.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Good! Some of these silly designs are an answer to a question that few asked.

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    I have the monostable column shifter in my C class and it couldn’t be easier or less confusing to operate. You slap it up for reverse and slap it down for drive. You can clearly see what gear you’re in on the dash if you feel like you need to look. It is faster and less clunky to operate than the old school mechanical column or console shifters. I really don’t see the problem.

  • avatar
    tp33

    Had the monostable in a 300c we rented for a month. Drove it everyday. Hated it most of them. I’ve driven hundreds of vehicles with every type of shifter imaginable–from three on the tree (77 f150) to up to 7 on the floor, various autosticks/triptronics, paddles, push-buttons, etc., and that FCA joystick was the worst by far. Saved no space vs. conventional shifter and I was constantly second-guessing what gear I had put it in. I could see that one going sideways on someone rather easily. Glad FCA is getting rid of it, though I wish they had done so before it killed people (liked that new Chekov kid). No way in hell they weren’t aware of the usability problems before installing that thing.

    The dial, on the other hand, is just fine. Frees up a ton of real estate and has superior feel/ergonomics over a column shifter IMO. Have had the dial in three FCA products, including two that I’ve owned (a Durango and RAM truck), and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Four positions, logically arrayed with decent “stops” between them. Idiot proof IMO. These claims by people “swearing it was in park” (it wasn’t) are as credible as the crowd-killers who swear their foot was on the brake (ditto). Textbook user error, and not a particularly understandable one.

    My sole knock against the dial? Not being able to turn the bloody car off when it’s in neutral (stopped or at slow speed). Annoys me every time I’m at the carwash…

  • avatar
    chicklet

    I rent a LOT of cars, nary an instruction book or pamphlet in sight most of the time.

    Oh look, there’s a knob; do you turn it, push it, push then turn, etc? When you get out, you hope that the presence of a glowing lamp that says P means you’re really in Park?

    Levers and handles, same thing- pull or push them in, up and down, or side to side? There’s always a button on the handle, marked “S” or “A” or “+”, what the heck do these do? If you try them out while driving and don’t know the code, you’ve got the engine at 6,000 RPM on the freeway and have to put it in neutral to end the sequence, because you can’t get the buttons, paddles, side-to-side or in-and-out thingies to do what you want done.

    Yes, give us a handle, or even a knob, with detents and a positive feel. You’ve put these giant TV screens in the dash, how about projecting the instructions up there?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I downloaded the owner’s manual for my Renegade because while it’s small enough to fit into the glove box of the car, it takes up the WHOLE glove box of the car when you include the separate book just to operate the infotainment stack. Now I have the data where I can read it any time on my PC and mobility devices.

  • avatar
    nationalminer84

    I have a 15 Ram with the Rotary shifter…. it just works it saves space I like it. most people i talk to with Rams do to. and I can tell you if it was on a Tundra first Consumer reports would have NO problem with it.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States