GMC made a splash when it revealed the 2018 Terrain crossover, which noticeably does not incorporate a traditional gear selector.
Instead, it’s the first application of a push-button gear selector, and the brand thinks it’s the right shift unit for the right time. The Detroit Free Press was able to test the push-button shifter in an open space to try and fool it into doing something downright dumb. Thankfully, it never did.
The “Park,” “Neutral,” and “Low” gear buttons are each engaged by pushing the button, while the “Drive” and “Reverse” gears are engaged by pulling the button forward. GMC said this was an intentional design to help avoid pressing the wrong button and employing a different function for the most important gears. Both the “Drive” and “Reverse” functions will also be illuminated differently at night to help avoid confusion.
To further fool-proof the unit, GMC has a few safety nets. If the driver were to select park while traveling at speed, the transmission automatically defaults to neutral, and a message is displayed warning the driver he or she has selected a prohibited shift function. Drive can be reselected immediately.
The vehicle will also apply the parking brake immediately if the doors are opened while the car is still in reverse, a feature for those who forget to reselect park after backing into a parking spot or other instances. The transmission also automatically shifts into park when the engine is shut down, should a driver forget to engage park after arriving at their destination.
The goal of the new shifter is to free up valuable real estate in the center console area. Whether consumers take to the idea remains to be seen.