Ford Authority

Lincoln Replacing Vertical Push-Button Gear Selector Interface

The second-generation Lincoln MKZ introduced a push-button gear selector that swaps the traditional gear shifter for a vertical row of buttons on the center stack. It was one of FoMoCo’s first implementations of digital gear selector technology, which digitizes the entire shifting stack by removing a physical connection between the shifter and transmission. Since its introduction, the technology has made its way across the entire Lincoln product portfolio. But now, Lincoln is introducing a completely-redesigned version of the push-button shifting interface.

The new version retain the push-button digital gear selector, but completely reconfigures the interface – switching from a vertical set of buttons on the center stack to a horizontal set of buttons near the center console. The all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator was first to introduce the new mechanism, followed by the recently-unveiled 2020 Lincoln Aviator.

2018 Lincoln Navigator and 2020 Lincoln Aviator feature push-button shifting mechanism laid out horizontally

In addition, sources familiar with the automaker’s plans have confirmed to Ford Authority that future Lincoln models such as the Corsair (which is expected to replace the MKC) and next-gen Nautilus (which will replace the MKX / current Nautilus) will also adopt the horizontally-positioned push-button gear selector.

The Ford Authority Take

Having spent a good amount of time with both the vertical and horizontal shifters, we must say that we much prefer the look and functionality of the new, horizontal interface over the vertical one.

Ford Authority founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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  1. Adrian Springer

    Better late than never. Changing the ill-conceived shift controls in the MKX/Nautilus is great news. The vertical shift pattern has been my primary complaint about the dash lay-out in my 2016 MKX. I plan to order a Nautilus for May, 2019 delivery and still have to suffer with the old design, based on the information in this article. I sure wish you’d do a mid-model redesign of the 2019 dash which would incorporate the horizontal shift controls. Then I’d be getting a perfect vehicle.

    I subscribe to FORD AUTHORITY and find it to be very informative on subjects that interest me. Keep up the good work. Thank you…

  2. Sukhoi31m3

    I think I like it better than the Ram rotary selector. Mashing a button (provided they’re easy to discern) would be easier than rotating the selector into the correct slot. I haven’t used either of them so what I’ve just told you plus $90,000 will get you a cup of coffee on Rodeo drive.

  3. Adrian Springer

    I am not a fan of most of these non-stalk and off console shifters. The console shifter on my 2012 Ram Laramie is perfect and I don’t need any more space on the console by removing it. The alternative is to go back to the steering column like Mercedes did. The compact stalk on the right side of the steering column is so simple and intuitive to use I can’t imagine a better design. Rotary and button shifters require that you visually move your eyes to your controls to assure you have selected the correct gear setting. The Mercedes design can be manipulated without any visual aid and I find that eminently more safe.

    1. Sukhoi31m3

      I agree completely! Preferred shifter is still on the console. Alas, just as sure as we’re seeing the demise of the manual transmission, I’m sure the console mounted auto trannie shifter will go with it.

  4. Tom

    Steering column shifter is the best by far .

  5. AlvinCox

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  6. Evan

    Meh I care zero about this but I do like the idea of smaller buttons. It does seem a waste to dedicate such large space to essentially 3 main buttons P D and R.

    1. Andrew Christian


      People fear digitization of functions, but just like ABS, the market will shift as I presume more manufactures will stop offering physical stocks in favor of other means.

      This is also a slow shift into not needing a transmission selector at all because of electric vehicles.

  7. Raymond Ramirez

    I have seen an article at GM Authority that shows the GMC Acadia with horizontal selection buttons. BTW they are not “shift buttons”, because they don’t “shift” anything!

    Modern vehicles never need the “”shift level”, so it is a vestigial reminder of the old manual shifters, or a phallic reminder for those guys who want to feel “it” all the time.

    1. A. springer

      Hey Raymond, if they’re not “shift buttons” please give us a better name for them. I know, they are electronic transmission drive mode signaling devices, but can’t we just keep it simple (KISS)? BTW, if the shift lever, or similar device is not necessary, how would one change direction, i.e., forward and reverse? Logic tells me that some means of communication is essential. Maybe you are thinking of mental telepathy?

      1. Raymond Ramirez

        Just consider then directional or status changes, like the setting on electric drills and other tools. BTW, the future Fords will have an electric power train and a single reduction gear so definitely there is no shifting. Everything will be electric, since reverse is just inverting the polarity of the magnetic field in the motor.

  8. Brenda Hines

    It’s about time. On July 4th, my Lincoln MKC was in park and I was outside the car. It rolled off and into a truck in front of it, causing $9000 damage to my car and $2000 to the truck it hit. Last night I was at the end of my drive and stopped to open the door and go to my mailbox. I was 6 feet away and my car started rolling down the hill to stop on my front porch 2 feet from my son’s bedroom window. Even if I’d somehow left it in drive, the “failsafe” is that it should go into park when the door is opened. I or others could have been killed both times, or a third time when it slipped out of park and ran over a concrete curb. Lincoln knows there is a problem. They have refused to repair my car or find a problem. They obviously know there is, this the “redesign.”

  9. H.Jones

    Change is difficult but when people are put in harms way, there’s a problem. I own a Lincoln actually a Town Car and I intend to hold on to it like Rose held on to that wood while watching the Titanic sink. I’ve had the opportunity to rent a few of the later model Lincoln’s which include the MKZ and a Ford- Fusion Energi Hybrid. The MKZ was indeed confusing and for someone who is tall (I like the seat back )it required leaning forward to push buttons. Ordinarily in the past the armrest was always placed just behind the gear shift and this sufficed. The Fusion has a knob of which I found myself playing with while driving. In other words it’s distracting. I did’t have any mechanical issues other than I found them both vehicle’s inconvenient and awkward. When did we become too inept or lazy to use a gear shift? It reminds me of the Disney Pixar film WALL-E. Everyone becomes complacent and reliant on all things automated. What ever happened to autonomy? Driving is becoming less of a task. Cars can park themselves and soon enough they’ll drive unaided. This sounds futuristic ! Actually it sounds like public transportation! Here’s to buttons and knobs or like everything else what’s old will be new again- I knew that’s why I kept my Town Car.


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