A complicated solution to a nonexistent problem.

GMC unveiled its second-generation Terrain crossover at the Detroit Auto Show this week. In and of itself, it’s fine – maybe a little homely, but I’m sure it’ll continue to be a strong seller. Problem is, I’m immediately turned off by the absolutely inane gear selection buttons. It’s a solution to a nonexistent problem and a glaring fault in an otherwise alright product.

Arranged on its own panel below the climate controls, the gear selector panel has you push buttons for Park, Neutral, and Low, and pull toggles (leftover window switches?) for Reverse and Drive. Above and below the Low button, there are also plus and minus buttons to manually change through the gears – conveniently located as far away from the driver as possible. Who the hell is changing their own gears in a GMC Terrain anyway?

GMC and other automakers (Fiat-Chrysler, Ford/Lincoln) are moving to electronic and push-button shifters because it frees up more space on and below the centre console. I drove a new Lincoln MKZ this past week, and because its gear-selector buttons are arranged along the left side of the touchscreen, there are cubbies underneath the middle console… that I forgot about and didn’t use.

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What happens if you’re driving and a younger child pushes a button by accident? How bad are these things going to look in a few years when the letters start to rub off? But beyond these questions, the larger one I have is just, why? Why fix what isn’t broken? Why unnecessarily complicate the simple act of shifting into gear? Because it’s not like that ever causes its own problems or anything.


Photos: Chris Amos / Jake Holmes / Motor1.com



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