For all of its modern technology, the Ford F-150 is still offered with a three-passenger bench seat up front. That means that, in some versions of the truck, there’s no room for a modern shifter between the driver and the passenger, so a column shifter must be installed. Just because the method of shifting is old-fashioned, though, doesn’t mean the technology behind it has to be.
A recent video, posted to Twitter by @CraigLeMoyne and discovered by Road And Track, shows the satisfying result of what happens when you park your brand new F-150 while it’s still in gear. As LeMoyne presses the on/off button, the column shifter steps up into park all on its own, as if by magic.
Although that wouldn’t be considered particularly revolutionary in F-150s with the centrally mounted shifter, which also shift into park automatically, it’s just surprising to see that technology applied to a column shifter, which looks decidedly old-fashioned in today’s world of crystal ball and rotary gear selectors.
Read: Owners Can Move Forward With ‘Conditionally Certified’ Class Case Suit Against FCA For Problematic Shifters
Although this technology is fun to look at, it’s likely the result of very serious design flaws that came to tragic ends not that long ago. As automakers sought to modernize their vehicles’ interiors, they added new, more aesthetically adventurous gear selectors to the interiors.
Helped by shift-by-wire technologies, the gear selectors could pretty much take any shape a designer wanted, from buttons, to dials, to levers. It was these last ones, particularly the ones developed by FCA (now Stellantis), that led to the highly publicized problems.
While the selectors were visually appealing, the fact that their action was no longer position-dependent (unlike this column shifter, a shift-by-wire lever can always come back to rest in its middle position, no matter what gear the transmission is in), drivers could become confused about what gear they were in.
That confusion meant that some drivers were accidentally leaving their vehicles in gear after parking them, leading to a roll away risk. That all ended tragically with the death of actor Anton Yelchin in 2016, who was killed when his own vehicle rolled into him.
As a result, the majority of automakers now have their vehicles shift into Park automatically when they are turned off, in order to prevent them from rolling away. And Ford appears to have found a novel way to do that on a physically operated gear selector.
I love that you can still get an F-150 with a column shifter and 6-pass seating, but the icing on the cake is what happens when you turn it off while in gear. pic.twitter.com/f2gz5IDwif
— Craig LeMoyne (@CraigLeMoyne) December 6, 2022
Lead image Craig LeMoyne /Twitter