Ford Worries You're Not Able to Understand This Round, Shiny Thing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ford worries youre not able to understand this round shiny thing

Allow me to paint you an all-too-common picture. You’ve pulled your vehicle into a parking space at the mall and need to get inside so that you can spend several hundred dollars at the Disney Store as quickly as possible. In your excitement you begin struggling frantically against the seatbelt. There is a moment of terror before you manage to unclip yourself, open the door, and begin shuffling your woeful husk toward the building’s entrance. Suddenly, you hear a loud crash behind you. With your mouth partially agape, you turn your vacant eyes back toward your vehicle and realize that you have, once again, neglected to place it in park and turn off the ignition.

Don’t be embarrassed, this happens to everyone.

A lot of motorists simply forget what to do after they’ve stopped their vehicle and are ready to exit. While the proper procedure actually involves taking the vehicle’s transmission out of drive and putting it into park, a common mistake is to leave it in drive or neutral with the keys locked in the ignition or motor still running and just walk away. Thankfully, Ford has announced that the 2017 Fusion will benefit from an innovative new “Return to Park” technology that places the car safely into park for you!

The automaker says that Return to Park uses information from the Ford Fusion’s “extensive network of sensors” to detect the driver’s intent to leave the vehicle. As technical as that sounds, it’s really a very straightforward affair. The system simply places the vehicle into “P” — the letter for park — anytime the operator turns the vehicle off or attempts to exit the vehicle while it stationary.

Ford claims that rollaways typically occur whenever drivers exit the vehicle with the engine running and the transmission not in park — this sounds right to me even before doing a web search. That single rollaway incident could result in serious injury to a driver or any person in the vehicle’s path.

“When we decided to go with the new rotary shifter for the 2017 Ford Fusion, the team sat together in a room to see what additional customer benefit we could bring to the table,” says Mark Zyskowski, Ford’s global e-shift systems technical expert. “We thought about what we could add without getting in the way of normal day-to-day scenarios, and all agreed a feature to help confirm park is selected when exiting the vehicle seemed really worthwhile.”

Actually, hold the phone. That sort of makes it sound like Ford didn’t think consumers would be smart enough to operate a rotary shifter — which might explain why this safety technology is only coming to the new Fusion. Otherwise, this technology would likely appear on other models, regardless of the way you select the driving mode.

Being considered dangerously forgetful is one thing but insinuating that the average person might be too stupid to make use of your product could hurt some feelings! How could Ford do this without there being some kind of previous incident where 266 people failed to effectively park their vehicle due to an unfamiliar shifter of some kind?

The all-new rotary gear shift dial with Return to Park is a standard feature on all 2017 Ford Fusions… and it should keep the company from being forced to recall any due to driver error.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Join the conversation
2 of 109 comments
  • Swissfreek Swissfreek on Dec 09, 2016

    Ford aren't the only ones that feel this way. My Golf (which has a DSG, so regular old shift lever on the center console) will lock the parking brake and beep at me if I throw it in gear before I close the door, even if my foot is on the brake. I have to close the door, put it back in park, disengage the e-brake, and then put it back in drive, with my foot on the brake pedal, to get the car back into D/S.

  • TR4 TR4 on Dec 09, 2016

    Ford has plenty of experience with "return to reverse" so all they had to do was modify the design a little.

  • Mike Beranek Would you cross this man? No way!
  • Skippity I kinda like styling. There’s plenty of lookalike boxes on the road. Nice to see something unique.
  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.