Push button shift system: Love it or hate it?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by PHEV Newbie, Jul 19, 2018.

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  1. PHEV Newbie

    PHEV Newbie Well-Known Member

    After the rear wheel skirts, a common criticism of the Clarity by reviewers (heck, of most new Hondas) is the push button shifter. I have to admit it took me some time to get used to it. Now that I have, I prefer it to the typical automatic shift lever in my Subaru. I find that I can shift quickly without even looking and it's become so intuitive that a recent rental in a Toyota Camry gave me fits (its shift lever goes through unintuitive cogs). Most automatics are controlled electrically (the shift levers are just switches) so it makes sense that they are just buttons or symbols on a touchpad. What is your experience?
    ClarityDoc likes this.
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  3. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    I’m fine with it. That is after the first 4 weeks of reaching for a nonexistent shift knob. It’s second nature now. I’m sure that after 6 months of pushing buttons, I’d have problems going back to a knob shifter. It’s all what you get used to.
  4. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I don't like the shift buttons.
    Omgswify likes this.
  5. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    My shift buttons self identify as a shift knob, and now we’re both confused.
    Viking79 likes this.
  6. kcsunshine

    kcsunshine Active Member

    It's fine just make it more compact and get rid of the useless wings.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
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  8. Atkinson

    Atkinson Active Member

    They look crazy cool, but it's taking me a while to use them without looking.
    As long as the subject came up, I would have liked full skirts for aerodynamics.
    If you are going ugly, go all the way.
  9. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    A lot of people hated the push button gear shifter in the Ford Edsel. That's one of the reasons why the Edsel was a flop. I'm amazed that any auto maker has tried that again.

    Learning has not taken place? Or maybe a sign that Honda hasn't inherited the institutional learning of Detroit.

    chris5168 likes this.
  10. Odobo

    Odobo Active Member

    Are you seriously comparing a car that was in production 70 years ago?
  11. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Is that a serious question? Of course I am. Or rather, not comparing the cars themselves, but rather comparing very similar awkward, non-intuitive designs for a gear shift selector. A few of the comments already posted above prove my point handily.

    "Times change; people don't."
    -- John Caples

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
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  13. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Consumer Reports doesn't like some pushbutton and other non-lever shifters, but Honda seems to pass their test:

    Consumer Reports believes so strongly that these types of shifters have the potential for harm that we are now deducting points from the Overall Score of any vehicle we determine has a shifter that is difficult to operate or that can be confused for other controls. We are also now deducting additional points from the Overall Score if a tested vehicle does not automatically return to Park or engage the parking brake when the engine is shut off, or when the driver’s door is opened with the engine running. Some vehicles, from manufacturers such as Ford and Honda, already employ both of these fail-safes.

    While more than 50 vehicles are affected, Consumer Reports is no longer recommending the following cars because their specific deductions from among our criteria drop their Overall Score below our threshold: the Chrysler 300, Lexus CT 200h, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and GLE.
    Akinto and Johnhaydev like this.
  14. I like it. Muscle memory has already done its job.

    When I was looking around for an EV (eventually buying the Clarity), I told all of the sales people about the tragic death of Anton Yelchin, which was allegedly due in part to poor gear-shift and software design.


    I was quite surprised to see that other manufactures were still using the monostable/toggle design, though some had put in software fixes. I think this design makes it difficult to know by feel which gear you are in. One car I tested allowed you to confirm which gear you are in only by looking at the instrument cluster, and that was often blocked by rather large spokes in the steering wheel. I note that the Clarity seems to shift automatically into park when the driver door is opened.
  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Yes, and it goes into park when you turn off the car, too. This car won't be chasing you down the driveway with sinister intentions.
    Rick2112 likes this.
  16. Odobo

    Odobo Active Member

    Yes, it was a serious question. Not only because I found it funny that you are comparing to that car built 70 years ago, but also the fact that it was all mechanical and actually had a transmission on it when the Clarity is built totally different.
    The only function for a knob would be to fulfill the drivers' habit of having a hand rest. If that's all you want then just use the space next to the buttons and stick a mini plunger and pretend that's the knob :p
  17. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    I wish the buttons had lights so I could see them in the dark. The wings hit my knees, so the physical design is silly to me. But, I have no problem with buttons or knobs in general.
  18. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    I am used to it now, no complaints really.
    insightman likes this.
  19. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Not at all. The reason why several people in this thread have said either that they don't like the push-button shifter system, or that it's hard to get used to, is exactly the same reason people didn't like the push-button shifter in the Edsel. It's not the mechanical functionality; it's the poor interface with the human user. A lever or a knob works well for this function; a set of push-buttons don't.

    I guess you don't understand the meaning of the adage "Times change; people don't." The way the human brain is "hard wired" hasn't changed a bit in 70 years.

    jdonalds likes this.
  20. Odobo

    Odobo Active Member

    No people don't change, but people adapt. And those that don't usually get left behond.

    Wouldn't it be a funny argument to say people are hardwired to a mechanical rotational phone or a button phone, and that's why some people still won't get a smartphone because the way it worked was fine?
    ClarityDoc likes this.
  21. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    No, it would simply be a wrong argument. I'm old enough to have used a dial phone for many years. I always hated them; make several calls in a row and your finger would get sore! In fact, I often resorted to using a pen to dial with. I was very glad when push-button phones started appearing, and I got one for myself as soon as the choice was available.

    Push-buttons work well for a phone "dial" because you have to use several of them to make any call, and there is no direct relationship, no possible intuitive relationship, between any individual digit on the dial and the person you're calling. Not so much with the gear shifter; there should be an intuitive progression from low to high gears, and thru Neutral before encountering Reverse. Push-buttons are missing that intuitive progression.

    I'm amazed that this needs explaining. o_O I would have thought it would be entirely self-evident to everyone.

  22. Odobo

    Odobo Active Member

    Hmm.... Funny that you basically just explain why a gear shifter is unnecessary on the clarity and any EV. And yet you try to use that as your defend of why there need a gear shifter?

    The car drives with a propulsion motor on the wheel, and only engage the motor with a single gear in highway speed that the driver have no control of other than step on the gas to accelerate. So without the high/low gear and neutral, there is only a forward, reverse and park. And you are arguing that it is more intuitive to have a gear shifter for that instead of just fulfilling the driver's habit of having a knob there?

    It amazed me that the car manufacturer have to add so many unnecessary "feature", like the car need to roll when you don't step on the brake to make these EV and PHEV to act like a ICE so the drivers can feel like how it used to be. But I guess you just proved why they need to do it that way.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  23. Atkinson

    Atkinson Active Member

    The legacy auto trans gear shift was probably driven by the use of a control cable to make selections.
    You have to pass through each selection on your way to "drive" for example.
    Since most modern automatic transmissions are completely controlled by electronics integrated with engine controls that are also drive-by-wire, there is no need for a cable control anymore.
    If a "gear shift" is used, it's a probably a virtual knob that snaps back after the driver commands an input.
    The wife's Bolt has a virtual shifter with a park button on top (I have t think about that each time I use it).
    The architecture is the driver for change to buttons or virtual shifter.
    That being said, I get it 100% that the tactile feel, feedback, and confirm from shifting a legacy auto trans selector is (at this time) simpler, easier, safer, intuitive, gives better tactile feedback, etc.
    Being fair, you have to say the same for keyless ignition on auto start/stop cars.
    It's very cool, advanced, convenient, simple, etc., to not have to use a key, but people forget to turn off the car in the garage and asphyxiate themselves.
    My hope is that engineering will continue moving forward and make driving controls more intuitive and safe - and that we are at an interim step in that direction right now.
    So I'l be a fence-sitter and agree with and understand all of you who love the buttons and those who can't stand them.

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