Consumer Reports Slams Poorly Designed Gearshift Selectors

Consumer Reports has decided to look into the gearshift selector designs that are currently available on the market, and produced a list of automobiles that are confusing to use.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee monostable gearshift selector 5 photos
Photo: Jeep
Gearshift selector designs that have been criticized by Consumer ReportsGearshift selector designs that have been criticized by Consumer ReportsGearshift selector designs that have been criticized by Consumer ReportsGearshift selector designs that have been criticized by Consumer Reports
They focused on ergonomics, which includes the possibility of using the gearshift selector in an intuitive manner, but also on the safety features implemented with those units to determine whether they are potentially dangerous.

The analysis made by Consumer Reports has gone as far as reducing the score of some of the models its editors have tested, and they were kind enough to make a list of all the vehicles that had poorly designed gearshift selectors.

The biggest problem with electronically-controlled gear selectors seems to be the inability of clearly showing the driver what gear is currently selected. Linked to this is the possibility of opening the driver’s door when the car risks rolling away, and some cars could allow users to do this without an explicit notification.

Other models have built-in safeguards that prevent rollaway incidents, but their shifter designs have not escaped criticism, as they can still be confusing to use.

You might think that a driver cannot be that unsure about what gear he or she has selected, but not every human in the world has your level of technical and technological experience, which means that others might have issues using those shifter designs.

As Consumer Reports notes, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had to start a recall for 1.1 million units last April because of a shifter design issue that could lead to a rollaway incident. That issue is linked to 68 people being injured, and Anton Yelchin, a young actor, getting killed by his vehicle in the driveway of his house.

CR noted that Ford and Honda had implemented fail-safes in their gearshift selector designs that prevent the driver from exiting the vehicle without engaging the parking brake or setting the shifter to the Park "gear" when the motor is shut off, or to open the driver’s door with the engine running. From Acura to Toyota, many brands have been pointed at by Consumer Reports for their gearshift selector designs.

The organization has even removed a few models from its list of recommendations because of their shifter design, and they have pledged to continue doing it until automakers fix the issues.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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