By on December 8, 2016

2017-ford-fusion-rotary-gear-shift-dial

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.

2017-ford-fusion-rotary-gear-shift-dial

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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109 Comments on “Ford Worries You’re Not Able to Understand this Round, Shiny Thing...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Sorry, I am older and drive a stick. My other vehicles are regular automatics. I am not too familiar with this technology. So with this type of selector, how the heck do you ‘rock’ your car out of snow?

    As an aside and threadjack, GodSpeed John Glenn a real American hero who passed away today.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Instead of moving the shift lever, you turn the knob from R to D and back again. Not really much different than a traditional shifter.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @ Jagboi, Thanks. Is there a prevent to stop you from going past R and into P? Is there significant enough signals/physical indicators to let you know what gear you are in? You can’t be looking down as the dial while rocking the car.

        • 0 avatar
          Jagboi

          I’ve not driven the Ford, but I have driven the Jaguar XF with a similar style dial. The detents were just right, firm to hold it in place, but easy enough to move. You wouldn’t overshoot your desired gear unless you really turned hard.

          Think a bit lighter than the knobs on a 70’s Marantz stereo. It has a nice weighting.

          • 0 avatar
            SunnyvaleCA

            I assume this type of shifter interface merely suggests the user’s intent to the computer control. So, if you shift it into park while going 50 MPH, you probably won’t damage your car; instead, the computer will probably put the car in neutral and cut fuel back to idle.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      This is yet another bonehead Ford solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Just like the Man Step.

      This is not a widespread issue. Certainly not enough to warrant a stupid intervention like this. Anyone that exits their vehicle without properly securing it, deserves whatever consequences may happen from such a negligent mistake.

      And to the OP, if people cannot be trusted to secure their vehicle before exiting it, or like numerous Ford drivers I see and forget to turn their headlights on (basic driving 101), then they are far too stupid to understand how to rock a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yep, its all stupid Ford drivers! Idiots! They should be killed slowly.

        And yeah, this problem doesn’t exist, which is why people die in rollaway accidents caused by people failing to put the car in park. Its totally non-existent except when it happens.

        And who needs access to their truck bed? People don’t use trucks for anything but hauling air, we ALL know that.

        If only someone else had thought of this stuff, then it’d be great!

        STUPID FORD! Well done, EcoBoost Flex. Well done.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well no more putting it in neutral and pushing a vehicle when it dies in an intersection.

    How is the tow truck driver supposed to load cars onto his flatbed once this becomes a common technology?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I’m sure there is a way to override the system to let it know that you actually want it in neutral.

    • 0 avatar
      Higheriq

      They will do it the same way as they do everything else now: drag it with the wheels locked.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      the problem is, when one car has this tech and another has different tech – and you switch cars, you may just leave “the other one” without guilt.

      Aren’t automakers learning from airbus? Plenty of them crashed because pilots and automation didn’t work well together.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, this has been a problem for a while, since automakers started putting electronically-actuated gear selectors in their cars, which aren’t mechanical levers tied to the steering lock, but rather computer modules that accept input.

      There’s always a way to release the transmission into neutral. Some cars have trim that you can remove, revealing a lever that mechanically releases the parking pawl. Others have somewhere you can stick a key.

      But even then, I bet there’s logic that lets you leave the car in neutral without having to do any kind of manual override. Most people with automatic transmissions don’t remain in neutral any longer than a second (while switching between gears). So the car may just chime and flash a warning at you (like the one in the above picture) if you turn it off while it’s still in neutral. The main danger is leaving it in gear…that is, reverse or drive.

      And if indeed they you out of neutral-when-off, too, I’m sure there’s some button you can push or hold to override the lockout, so long as the battery and modules are working. If they aren’t, see the above for manual release.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      sure there is. on Lincolns with the pushbutton gear selection, if the car is off and you press “N” for neutral, the cluster prompts “Press N again to stay in neutral.”

      I’ve seen a ton of vehicles with these electronic gear selectors. they all have at least *some* way to put it in neutral/take it out of park for towing. some are easier than others. Chrysler vehicles with the ZF 8HP or 9HP have a hidden “park release” somewhere; Rams have it in the center console bin, the 200 has it in the front console storage bin. Audis have some stupid sh!t where you have to pull up the driver’s floor mat, then a cover in the carpet, then dig some moronic tool out of the spare tire well to take it out of park.

      • 0 avatar
        PJmacgee

        “Audis have some stupid sh!t where you have to pull up the driver’s floor mat, then a cover in the carpet”

        BMW wins the idiocy award here – you have to crawl under the car and remove many screws to remove a panel, then turn another screw that activates a lever that forced the car into neutral. Awesome job guys.

        As for auto-park, nothing new here, every electronically actuated autobox should do this (most, if not all, already do).

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        So how do you put the vehicle in neutral if the battery is stone dead and you need to tow the vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      From the article:

      “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.”

      I’d assume that the “attempt to exit the vehicle” is tied to the door being opened. I’d hope that if the door was never closed it would interpret some different intent. I’ll check it out in a bit and let you know.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        On our ’08 BMW, the shifter will slam itself into park if you lift your foot off the brake with the driver door open. It’s quite eye-opening the first time you are backing up, looking out the open door and your foot comes off the brake enough for the brake lights to go off – WHAM – you are rocking in place.

    • 0 avatar
      aTelBrad

      That’s a good point – Though I’m sure someone has considered this… Well, hopefully =)

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      We (Benz) have a hub you put on that allows a wheel to spin free. I imagine most tow truck drivers would have a hub or something similar.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Ok, just tested it this morning on my 2017 Fusion.

      If the car is in drive or neutral, opening the door triggered it to go into park automatically. The assumption is that you forgot to put it into park. If I opened the door, got in without closing the door and deliberately shift it into neutral I got a warning to the left of the speedometer (similar to the one shown above) telling me to press “S” to confirm that I wanted to put it into neutral.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    How are you supposed to downshift this POS manually?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Why would you need to do that? I’ve had my C-Max for over four years and I don’t think I’ve ever downshifted manually.

      The real answer is, “it depends”. On a RAM, you have to downshift via the steering wheel buttons. Some Fords are equipped with steering wheel paddles.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        You need to do that to provide additional engine braking on long mountain descents, to give the driver the opportunity to not stress the brakes too much. There has to be some thing somewhere to allow you to do that by federal law. Now in the C-Max and other hybrids if you know the point where friction brakes are added you just need to stay at that point to not overheat the brakes.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          My 2010 F150 does not have the “select shift” feature. You have 1-2-3-D. If I want compression braking I just engage tow/haul mode. It will then downshift with braking. Works very well. I have yet to wish for “select shift” to downshift on hills or slippery surfaces.

          The shifter on our Sienna can be put in any gear and it has grade braking. You hit the brakes a few times on a down hill and it will automatically downshift.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave W

          I can put my ’16 C-Max in low. More usefully there is a button on the side of the shift lever which essentially puts it in low, but only at speeds below 20MPH and when going downhill. Makes heavy traffic on downhills much easier to deal with. The accelerator works as in drive, but there is much more regen/engine braking to help control speed.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            ok I’m old and get confused, but that’s my point it took me little effort to figure out the Acura system, clearly marked buttons just like the old Chrysler system.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I haven’t encountered too many significant hills in my commute from one Detroit suburb to another. Certainly none that I’d needed engine braking for. I know it has low and grade assist buttons/gears, but anything with a rotary shift knob would have the same options.

    • 0 avatar
      eCurmudgeon

      Flappy paddles

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Most people don’t do that. Sure, they’ll do it a few times to play around with it when they first get the car. After six months, they let the car do all the shifting. The most they’ll do is switch between Eco and Sport modes.

      Speaking from personal experience. My Ford does a better job on it’s own (assuming appropriate mode) than me trying to force it.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      Paddles.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Ford claims that rollaways typically occur whenever drivers exit the vehicle with the engine running and the transmission not in park”

    Open exhaust V8 is a safety feature.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Loud pipes save lives!

      /ducks

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Loud pipes save lives!”

        That sticker is usually found on a helmet designed only to keep pigeon sh!t from causing brain damage.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          Also used by cops to screw with people when they are writing a noise violation.

          Back when my brother was really into the VW Bug thing he was pulled and cited for a noise violation. While the cop was writing the ticket a Harley rode by loud as hell.

          My brother mentioned that to the cop and the cop just matter of factly said “loud pipes save lives” and gave him the ticket and told him to have a nice day.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I’m sorry, people who can’t focking park a car deserve to wreck. Of course the real world problem is it makes everyone else’s insurance go up, not to mention the rollaway car possibly running someone (other than the moron driver) over.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It really just takes a moment of inattention to exit your car while it’s in gear, if it lets you. Ditto for parents who accidentally leave their kids locked in their car. There are lots of things in life that are perfectly innocent mistakes, but that nevertheless have grave consequences, like car accidents themselves. But I don’t think the answer is to “ban everyone who does this from driving” or (as you advocate) “let Darwinism take care of itself.”

      Plus, back to the example with the gear selector, these monostatic gear selectors are new to a lot of people, and they introduce the potential for added confusion.

      Since the stuff is all computer-actuated and it’s just some extra code to make this work, I see no drawbacks in having a function that puts the car in park if you leave it in gear and try to exit.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        Here’s what’s really confusing – 26 different transmission selector designs.

        Either it was an automatic shift lever with five labeled detents on the floor or the column, or manual that was three on the tree to three, four, five, or sometimes six plus reverse on the floor if a manual.

        Meanwhile, what was your first impression of how a new Mercedes shifter must work? The damn thing feels so delicate I’m afraid to touch it let alone move it because I’m afraid it will break and I’ll get blamed for it. The one in the BMW reminds me of a chrome sex toy. How manly is it to shift – excuse me, dial – your Jag-u-AR these days and the one in my wife’s Lincoln makes me feel like we came full circle from the 1958 Edsel.

        The real issue is you now have to orient yourself on nearly every new vehicle on how to get it out park like you are switching from the cockpit of a 747 to a Cessna. And that’s why I’ll never give up my manual Miata.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          Yet another reason why there should be an industry standard on these types of things. Many customers find all these different approached confusing. Not everybody is a car enthusiast. Just look at what the top 3 best selling cars have been for many years.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            What is that thing they call an industry standard when the industry doesn’t want to set the standard? Oh yeah, regulation.

            But if regulation is the source of all evil, how is it possible that a consumer would ever want that?

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “The real issue is you now have to orient yourself on nearly every new vehicle on how to get it out park like you are switching from the cockpit of a 747 to a Cessna. And that’s why I’ll never give up my manual Miata.”

            True enough – people will likely be injured, and some will die because of the desire for more cupholders.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      They might deserve a wreck, but the person parked behind them doesn’t deserve a wreck.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      yeah, blah blah whatever. you’re just like those “law and order” old white people. Drug users should all be thrown in prison and throw away the key. Until it’s *your* kid busted with some weed or coke, then you’ll move heaven and earth to get him out of trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      A shifter design that isn’t very intuitive and altogether different than what people are used to really exasperates the issue.

      These new shifter designs from the rotary dial mentioned in the article to the damn faux turn signal stalk used in most Mercedes it seems like to the Russian immigrant crushing piece of crap used by Chrysler and BMW are really poorly designed with no positive action at all.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I also have a safety feature in my old Odyssey to help confirm park is selected. It’s called a shift lever that goes *clunk*. Cutting edge technology, I know!

    There’s also a safety feature to tell me the parking brake is engaged: it’s when my foot is on it. There must be a haptic feedback device in my foot because I can feel the confirmation every time. Some amazing tech there.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      My thoughts exactly. Here in over-regulated California, we even have a law requiring use of the parking brake. My (limited) experience with “park” feature of automatics says that once the vehicle starts moving, the feature doesn’t offer an resistance to slowing, so the parking brake is really the most important aspect of keeping a vehicle stationary.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Except, as per the article, most rollaway incidents happen when the car is left in gear and the driver exits the vehicle.

      Maybe read why they did it before you go off about how stupid it is.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Mark Zyskowski, Ford’s global e-shift systems technical expert”

    Oh you’re taking a frakkin’ piss. Y’know what ‘additional customer benefit’ you could bring to the table, ya NFL fullback-named dipstick? DON’T MAKE THE SHIFTER A DAGGUM _DIAL_.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Are people really this dumb now? First GM with that “don’t forget your kids” monitor, and now this. Holy crap… I have a routine when I stop that involves putting it in park, applying the emergency brake, and shutting any accessories off. I guess I’m a weirdo since I put too much thought into things.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      If anything, this movie projected thing correctly Idiocracy (2006). Yes, we’re collectively THAT dumb.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Again, leaving your kid in the car or forgetting to place the gear selector in park is an innocent mistake. The outcome can be deadly, but to your brain, especially on autopilot mode, it’s as easy a mistake to make as forgetting to take your coffee with you as you head out to the office or missing your turn. Operating a car requires the human brain to do quite a few things at once, and sometimes it just plain drops the ball. It’s that simple.

      I don’t think stupidity or a lack of intelligence is the cause.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Brain needs constant training. Less we need to do less we think, more we’re DUMB

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        It’s not stupidity. It’s distraction, that is, paying more attention to something else than to your driving. Even though I don’t even have a cell phone, I’ve had some close calls because I have been preoccupied while driving. The only solution is to put the other subject out of my mind and concentrate on driving. It amounts to saying to the rest of the world, “I’m busy right now. You will have to wait until I have time for you.”

        You wouldn’t want to have a phone conversation with me while I drive. Every minute or so, I would tune you out to focus on some aspect of driving that required my full attention. That works with passengers because they recognize that I’m no longer listening and know enough to put the conversation on hold until I can spare the brain bandwidth once more. Someone at the far end of a phone conversation would prattle on, not realizing that I had dropped out, and would become annoyed (understandably) at being asked to repeat himself over and over.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “Again, leaving your kid in the car or forgetting to place the gear selector in park is an innocent mistake”

        “I don’t think stupidity or lack of intelligence is the cause”

        Forgetting a child in a car and no securing a vehicle before you exit is a perfect example of both severe stupidity and a lack of intelligence that should restrict you from having children and driving.

        The fact that you are defending these actions as a simple “brain fart” not only calls into question your own judgement but also speaks volumes to this whole culture we have built up where nobody can suffer consequences because they did something stupid. This hand holding has to stop.

        We don’t need a POS car company forcing vehicles into park. What we need is competent drivers. If you exit the vehicle without securing it, you deserve everything that happens as a result.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yes, more people (kids even) should DIE so this hand holding can stop.
          We don’t need electric starters, the crank you turn in front of the car works JUST FINE.
          We don’t need elevators, what happened to walking up the stairs?
          We don’t need A/C in Phoenix, why not just open a window?

          ADVANCEMENT SUCKS, we should all live in the 1850s.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      slavuta –
      When it comes to human beings, building in passive safety features is better than actually trusting a person to get it right. Even those of use who tend to be attentive make mistakes or have lapses in concentration.

      Studies say that one needs to repeat a procedure correctly 211 times (on average) for it to become an unconscious act. Bad habits are learned the same way. How many drivers perform safety checks correctly? if at all?

      Statistical one out of three drivers should NOT have a drivers licence. If you ask a driver to rate their driving skills, the vast majority will say, “Good to excellent”. That fact alone shows that most drivers can’t be trusted.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Yes people are that dumb. And it’s mainly because of the world we now live in. People are so busy trying to keep up with constant change, shifting technology, daily life, unstable jobs, constant instability in the market, rising costs and a plethora of other struggles.

      Then you add in all the distractions and annoyances with today’s technology crazed world like touch screens, cell phones, complicated controls etc. Not everybody pays 100% attention to a thing that gets them from point A to point B. So that is yet another reason for an industry standard for these types of things.
      KISS. This is a term that it would seem terribly lost on most of today’s younger generations. And with all the electronic nannies and assists in cars, it is making people ever dumber. Does this answer your question?

  • avatar
    Tstag

    The first gen Jaguar XF did return to park years ago. I always said they had the best in class gearbox. This proves it, sticks are dead Jaguar rotary style shifters are in

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “This proves it, sticks are dead Jaguar rotary style shifters are in”

      Not necessarily. The XF, back in 2009, was the first car on the market to have a rotary gear selector like this and Jaguar / Land Rover has mostly applied it across its entire lineup, including the XJ, XE, F-Pace, Range Rover, Range Rover Evoque, Discovery Sport and the new Discovery 5. The only automakers to follow suit with a monostatic rotary shifter in our market, other than J/LR, have been FCA (RAM, 200, 300, Pacifica) and now Ford, the latter in just one vehicle.

      Meanwhile, J/LR’s own F-Type and Range Rover Sport have a joystick-like controller, sort of like what BMW has been using since MY2007 or so. The K900 also has a similar-type shifter. And GM started employing it with some higher-end models, like the 2017 LaCrosse and 2017 XT5. It’s used in many Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley models across VW Group. A variant of the joystick is the flat monostatic-paddle seen on the A8, G90, and some FCA vehicles.

      Plus, traditional column shifters are still around. GM uses them across all of its BOF vehicles, for whatever reason, but they’re definitely necessary on anything with an AT and a bench seat. Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce have held firm to using monostatic, electronic column shifters in all but their sportiest wares.

      And then Lincoln had to be all different with the push-button gear selector that usually flanks the MyLincoln Touch / SYNC3 screen on its vehicles…a resurrection of a layout seen in some classic Lincoln / Mercury and Chrysler cars.

      So it’s really a tossup as to which format is “in” right now, but it’s certainly not the rotary shifter.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        I’ve also read more long-term tests of Jaguars with rotary-shifters where the cars had to be towed in dead and the rotary-shifter work-around for selecting neutral when the ignition is dead was detailed than I have long-term tests where any other form of shift-selector issue was mentioned.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          These types of cars are going to be so much fun for consumer’s buying them used down the road. Throw away will be a word used with great length as it will cost so much to diagnose and fix all these things when they malfunction.

          There is much of this going on even now with vehicles as little as 3 years old. A good example being my friend’s 2014 Taurus. With 120K miles the check engine light keeps coming on meaning he can’t get the vehicle inspected. Everything checks out okay on the normal shop scanning equipment. Using a more updated sophisticated reader he was able to diagnose a bad catalytic converter which is over 800 bucks. And this is after he just dumped several grand into the car with wheels bearings, exhaust, oxygen sensors, tires etc. With some front end body damage and high miles how much is this car worth?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Gee, I suddenly thought of Anton Yelchin.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3649368/Star-Trek-actor-Anton-Yelchin-dies-car-crash-age-27.html

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Of course, in Ye Olden Days, this isn’t so much of a problem, as it’s a reflex for most people to remove their keys from the ignition to put them in their pocket/purse before leaving. (And, of course, this requires putting the transmission in Park.)

    Now with “Leave it in your pocket”, it’s a lot easier to just walk out of the car with the engine running / car in gear, where it would never have happened before.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Every car with a monostatic gear selector should do this. My E70 X5, which had BMW’s ubiquitous joystick gear selector, did. If I turned the car off or opened the door while it was in gear (meaning not in park or neutral) , it would shift into park. The gear selector had a sport mode that was activated when you tilted it to the left (at which point you could shift up or down manually or just leave it in sport automatic mode), and it still had some kind of spring release that would knock the gear selector back into the main gate for the auto-park function, and then it activated the park mode.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      You can use a combination of sensors that are already installed. Air bag seat sensor pad. Seatbelt warning sensor. Driver’s door ajar trigger. A permutation thereof should help these idiots.

    • 0 avatar
      Jim123

      My BIL’s derelict old 2002 BMW E65 7 series automatically went to park the moment a door was opened, so this has been implemented for a while I believe. That one neat safety feature doesn’t forgive the horrid engineering that lies within that piece of kraut garbage, though…

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    What about people who forget to bring their vehicle to a stop before exiting; approaching the mall at 60mph, open the door and jump out. What is Ford going to do to ensure the safety of these poor souls ?

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Careless folk probably just shouldn’t drive! As pointed out, this type of “shifter” isn’t new. Jag has had it for a couple of years now. I also remember my father’s 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser had a push button auto on the left side of the dash. As I recall, Park was engaged by pushing a small chrome bar under the push buttons. And I had no problem pushing Reverse (R) at 30-40 mph to make the rears spin in reverse! Yeah, I was a bad kid!

  • avatar
    jjster6

    I was buying something with my debit card the other day and the place didn’t have tap to pay. I was so exhausted after pushing 9 buttons to make my transaction.

    I couldn’t imagine driving a car that required me to take keys out of my pocket, put them in a slot, turn the key, then move a lever thingy. No thanks. I’ll just hit the Siri button and have her get me a Lyft!!!

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Ah, that reminds me, I forgot one point in that ‘standard-transmissions’-thread a week or so ago where I smugly ‘accidentally’ offended 97% of your population by hinting that they were disabled in some way or another.
    In my car both reverse and 1st kinda act as ‘park’ when it’s parked. Also, my car lets me know bigtime if I have left it running in either of those long before I reach the door handle if I try to get out.
    And it also saves me another few seconds of inconvenience every time I park my car, or start my car.
    It’s baffling that a function that puts your car into park as soon as you’re out of the drivers seat isn’t the norm yet though. I’m surprised it hasn’t been made mandatory. Maybe getting run over or losing your car isn’t considered quite as important as leaving your headlights on.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      I understand not wanting to learn or drive a manual. There have been plenty of times, in bumper to bumper traffic for example, when I wished for an auto. In some instances an auto is even prefered; 1/4 mile, off-roading. Now we constantly hear of all of these people who cannot drive an automatic either!!!

      If you forget to shift your car into park before getting out, then, YOU SHOULD NOT BE DRIVING. You are either too stupid or under way too much distress.

  • avatar
    brn

    My car has backup sensors that would scream at me if I was rolling back into another vehicle. Why not go that route?

  • avatar
    Fred

    Acura has a button for drive, reverse, neutral, like the old Chrysler pushbuttons from the 1960s. It puts it into park automatically when you remove the key. Full proof. No need to reinvent the controls.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      But that is reinventing the controls. On the early Chrysler push button vehicles there was no park, you left it in neutral and used the transmission mounted parking brake. Later they added a park pawl and there was a separate lever under the dash to engage park.

    • 0 avatar
      mtmmo

      What Acura vehicle has a push button transmission and requires a key?

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    One thing they could do to save all that room the shifter takes on the console is to put the shifter on the column.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    More old news.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    So, is anyone putting the tranny knob on the dash and getting rid of the effing wide-ass consoles?

    Cupholders and a little lift-top stash box can live in a seat midsection.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    How does Ford intend to notify the driver which gear is selected? It looks like an LED next to the identification letter is supposed to light up. Our Focus uses the same idea for the air conditioning and recirculation buttons. A tiny yellow LED turns on when each is selected. They are difficult to read in daylight and impossible in direct sunlight.

    The most reliable workaround, to avoid getting the wrong gear, may be to turn the knob all the way in one direction and then count clicks until you get the proper number for the desired gear. I won’t be surprised if we see people revving the engine in neutral or starting out in the wrong direction. The Return to Park feature may get frequent use even by conscientious drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I think you have to have a gear indicator on the dash by law. I’m not 100% sure on it as all of my new car purchases have been manuals. I vaguely remember their being a recall on the 2013 auto mustangs for something related to the dash indicator

  • avatar
    Zelgadis

    Remind me what the problem with the old method (shift lever) was again?

    • 0 avatar
      W126

      This is my question exactly, why can’t automatics have a center mechanical shifter preferably one with gated detentes like in old Mercedes-Benzes? This hockey puck shifter looks like some stupid technology.

      • 0 avatar
        Zelgadis

        You get the feeling that, 20 years from now, they’ll be offered again for a premium price? It’s retro!

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          A lot of people find rotary shifters (even if they never existed in the past) and push button selectors to be retro and cool now. I like them, but the main problem with them and modern electronic auto shift levers in general is just the weight, if you’re in a semi-unfamiliar vehicle you can’t tell what gear you’re in without looking and it doesn’t feel natural. Like everyone’s said, every vehicle is totally different.

          But at least park is always at one end (other than in Mercedes, whose shifter design is the worst and least intuitive I’ve ever seen) so it’s not like it’s missable…

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Shifters now are just electric switches, not mechanical devices directly connected to the transmission. It gives more freedom to the designers to put it in different places.

      • 0 avatar
        W126

        Well I definitely have a suggestion of where the designers can put their new shifters. Seriously, what’s so repugnant about having an actual mechanical connection to your transmission, brakes, steering, etc? It’s the most ergonomic position to have a center shift lever instead of a disk anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      It’s not cool to the Millennial crowd.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Bravo on that first paragraph, Matt. “Shuffling your woeful husk”, very funny!

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Forgive me for injecting politics into this discussion (never happens at TTAC!)…

    Three percent of new car sales are stick shift.
    Gary Johnson got three percent of the vote.
    I don’t know what the Venn diagram looks like, but I will consider myself a Double Elite.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Oh, and if Mark Stevenson still wants our input about this site, the kind of stupid, pointless, useless snark that is the headline and entire opening paragraph of this article needs to go. It adds no value and has nothing to do with “The Truth About Cars.”

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Thanks for the humor, Matt. Quality snark is the only way I can enjoy reading about technology being dumbed down to accommodate stupid people doing stupid things.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    I’ve made this mistake. Dodge Journey with keyless push start. I forgot to put it in park, and hit the button to turn off the engine. But that doesn’t turn the engine off if the transmission is still in D. And the engine is so quiet at idle you can’t really hear it against any background noise. When I got out the car started creeping forward up the driveway towards the closed garage door. Fortunately it wasn’t fast due to the slope, and I was able to get back in in time.

    I have a pretty good driving record. And a PhD, if that means anything (either way). As Kyree says, I think anyone can make this mistake.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Dumbest shifter ever: previous generation Impala. No markings to indicate which gear you are in! Wtf

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      Like someone said above, I think it’s required that there is an indicator in the dash. But yeah, couldn’t believe they got away with this. Not illegal, and a SUPER cheap-out, but surprised some sort of activists didn’t make more noise about the “potential danger” of no markings on the console. That would never fly today.

  • avatar
    Ion

    So when FCA recalls cars to program an automatic park feature in “they should’ve known better”, but when Ford puts the software in from the get go it’s ” they think you’re stupid”.

    For the record ISM equipped Mercedes-Benz already do this. They even go a step further on the newer models and activate the parking brake as well.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    I can think of a few times where I’ve had to open the door and look out while reversing a trailer. Sounds like that’s not going to work any more.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Is this the place where I tell kids to get off my lawn?

  • avatar
    swissfreek

    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.

  • avatar
    TR4

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

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