I recently drove a new car with an electronic parking brake and was immediately reminded this feature, thought to be tech-ish and a space-saver is actually much more complicated than it needs to be. The same criticism could be leveled against electronic shifters – and that’s exactly what Consumer Reports did.
CR‘s criticism with these is valid in some cases. The electronic wand found in BMWs, the little column stalk on Mercedes models and the rotary knob on new Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover products take some getting used to, as most of us are used to shoving an automatic gear lever from park to drive and not thinking about it too much.
These electronic units aren’t nearly as clear in which gear you’re actually going to, meaning you’re not really sure if you’ve set the car to Park, Reverse, or Drive – and that’s not exactly confidence inspiring. This is especially true of the models where you push a separate button to get into Park, not at all what drivers who’ve been driving cars for decades are used to.
But just because we’ve done something a certain way for many years doesn’t make it the best solution. Some of these electronic shifters free up a ton of console space, as well as make it more likely A BMW owner told me that if you shut off the engine and open the door, the shifter wand thing will automatically put itself in park, something a mechanical shifter wouldn’t do.
Like that electronic parking brake I was screaming at the other day, electronic shifters take some getting used to. For those who review cars for a living, the fact that various automakers have taken various approaches is confusing. For those who actually live with the car for years, it’s probably less of an issue.
And frankly if you have a real problem with these, you’re probably shopping for something with a manual transmission, anyway. But take a look at the video below and see what you think.