QOTD: Are You Ready to Push Some Buttons?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd are you ready to push some buttons

A certain Lincoln owner I know was forced back to the dealership yesterday. The problem? A worrying diagnostic message on his crossover’s gauge cluster. Don’t worry, he’s covered, and the trip offered him a chance to roll outta there with all the swagger of John Shaft — surrounded by all the opulence a Ford Fusion platform can carry.

Naturally, this man, who we’ll call Adam T. (or A. Tonge, whatever he prefers) jumped at the chance to pilot a Continental loaner for a couple of days. Who can blame him? It remains an intriguing, plush sedan that unfortunately garners fewer buyers with each passing month. As he triumphantly posted images in our Slack chatroom, a conversation sprung up around a feature common to all present-day Lincolns, something for which no one can muster much enthusiasm: the push-button shifter.

In the Continental, the placement of the buttons just to the left of the center touchscreen calls to mind a bank of radio presents and generally seems out of place. Lincoln’s not giving up on this, however. So, if buttons there must be, where and how would you like to press them?

While 2019 Lincolns continue with the push-buttons, the upcoming Aviator mimics the larger Navigator in arranging them horizontally, just above the leading edge of the raised console. These buttons require a downward stroke, like the toggles on a 1970s home stereo, whereas the MKZ, Nautilus (née MKX) and MKC all present their owners with a vertical strip of buttons to the left of the center stack.

Big, bland buttons you’ll have to reach awkwardly for if you’re the long-legged type. A week spent in an MKX last year was not nearly enough time for this practice to become old hat. Invariably, my right hand fumbled above the sparse console, searching for a ghost. They’re laggy buttons, too, and make three-point turns more time consuming than necessary.

Suffice it to say I think Lincoln’s buttons suck. There’s other options out there that work better, to varying degrees. GMC’s Terrain sports a row of buttons at the bottom of the center stack, but the important two (reverse, drive) require a toggle action, pulling them towards the driver, while the others can be pressed like you’re in a Lincoln. Honda uses a fore-and-aft alignment for its push-button array (see below), with a rearward toggle action required to engage reverse. It could be argued that the park button is too small and the drive button too overbearing, but at least you won’t find this feature on all models.

Hyundai must have channelled Edsel’s Teletouch system for its tight grouping of buttons in the Ionic Electric (see above), but this quartet has thankfully been moved to the console, where they lie just ahead of a raised handrest. This setup is fast and intuitive, and it places the buttons closest to where your hand naturally wants to fall. Drivers can accomplish a three point turn with just some left arm motion and the index and middle finger of their right hand.

Let’s hear from you, B&B. If the Lincoln brand is to continue without a shift dial, knob, lever, or stalk, where do want to reach when the time comes to change directions?

[Images: Adam Tonge, Ford Motor Company, Timothy Cain, Hyundai]

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4 of 76 comments
  • Jfb43 Jfb43 on Oct 16, 2018

    I will not buy a car with pushbutton shifting. I don't even think I'd get one with the new rotary knob, even though that would be marginally better. All this talk about freeing up console space - go back to the future with column shifters, at least on base model vehicles.

    • See 1 previous
    • La834 La834 on Oct 16, 2018

      @Art Vandelay Another vote for the return of (split) bench seats and column shifters

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Oct 16, 2018

    Just raid the ol' parts bin and install the shifter from one of my current Fords, the Fiesta ST. It is intuitive with the numbers one through six clearly denoting which forward gear you wish to select and an intuitive reverse lock out mechanism. It works easily in conjunction with an extra pedal installed on the left. If it doesn't have this arrangement, I really dont care.

  • Cprescott The pandemic changed the sales game. No longer do dealerships need inventory. After two years people are accustomed to having to order what they want and then extorted on the price by the dealer for that privilege. Now used cars with 75k are selling for $5k more than I paid for my 21k, 2016 model back in January 2019. I pray my car won't get totaled and I have but 13 payments left to make on it. I may never buy another car again.
  • Grein002 I hope you meant "take the Ranger out behind the *barn*" rather than "bar". I think something completely different happens "behind the bar".
  • Cprescott Suddenly there is no reason to buy ugly anymore. The Silverdodo is dead. Long live the less hideous Colorado.
  • Cprescott Portable BBQ's for everyone!
  • Lou_BC The 2023 ZR2 is burdened with GM's 8 speed. It's been allegedly "fixed" so it doesn't gear hunt and shudder. I still won't trust it. The turbo 4 cylinder should address the lack of torque found in the V6. I test drove a full-sized Trail Boss. I could make it gear hunt. The turbo 4 didn't seem to be lacking in power, at least for an empty crewcab with a 6.5 box. It lacked anything resembling character. It had next to zero compression braking even with tow/haul engaged. Chevy should have continued offering the VM Motori based inline 4 diesel that's in the older Colorado trucks. I do like the fact that the 2023 comes with 33's standard and IIRC the wheel hubs/axles etc. have been beefed up to handle the larger rubber. The bolt pattern (IIRC) is shared with fullsized 1/2 tons opening up one's choice for aftermarket wheels.