Dear 2018 GMC Terrain, Y U Make Shifting So Needlessly Complicated?

2018 GMC Terrain shift buttons and levers 21 photos
Photo: edited by Gabriel Brindusescu
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As my colleague noted in his story on the 2018 GMC Terrain, the compact SUV doesn’t have a proper gear lever for its 9-speed automatic transmission. Instead of a column shifter or one sticking out from the transmission tunnel, GMC went with arguably the most counterintuitive system I've ever seen in a car. Like ever.
Steven Ewing of Motor1 doesn’t like it either, and kudos to him for saying it as it is: the 2018 Terrain’s shifter is “a complicated solution to a nonexistent problem.” The featured picture reveals the extent of the problem. Lincoln and Aston Martin also have a thing for buttons instead of a lever, and their way of doing it is fine I guess. The all-new Terrain, however, is a different cookie.

In the case of Aston Martin and Lincoln, the buttons are located close to the steering wheel, in the area just below the center air vents. The 2018 GMC Terrain, meanwhile, has its P-R-N-D-L interface located below the HVAC controls, just above the area where the driver can store his smartphone.

As you might have guessed by now, this is a bit of an issue. The biggest beef I have with the gear-selector buttons is that they’re not in the driver’s area of view. Then there’s the ambivalence of it all: P, N, L are buttons while R and D come in the form of are pull levers. I don’t even want to imagine how the meeting went when the interior design team settled on this layout.

Now imagine this scenario: you’re driving along, taking your kid to football practice. At a given moment, your child goes, “What does this button do? Man, I sure want to press it. Does P stand for Power and R for Rangers? Yup, I should definitely press it.” And this gets me to the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox, the Terrain’s brother from another mother. Why does the Equinox have a proper gear lever and the Terrain is faffing about so needlessly?

The question to end all questions, however, is the following: why would someone, especially an interior designer that is knowledgeable about ergonomics, would make the driver’s live behind the wheel more miserable than it already is? Oh, and here’s another question: what sort of driver would use the + and - buttons to change gears considering that they’re located closer to the passenger? At the end of the day, this is a downright mess.

The automaker has an excuse about the so-called “Electronic Precision Shift,” though. As per GMC, it “enables more storage room in the center console by replacing the conventional transmission shifter with electronically controlled gear selection.” Yeah, right. Thanks for nothing, GMC design team.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
Mircea Panait profile photo

After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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