Next-Generation Grand Cherokee Feature Spotlight: Rotary Shifter
As car designs have evolved over the past century, so have their shifters. Gone are the clunky, space-hog shifters of the past, replaced with electronic shifters that take up less space and are quicker to operate. With many vehicles moving to a shift-by-wire setup, there have been several unique shifter designs, like the buttons found on Lincoln and GMC products and the knob found on some FCA and Jaguar/Land Rover products, among others. Many people have mixed feelings about the rotary shift dial, but we have learned it’s likely making its way to another product: the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Grand Cherokee is a fitting choice for the rotary shift knob, really, as it’s marketed as a luxury product in higher trim levels and many luxury brands use non-traditional shifters. The main functional benefit of a rotary shifter is that it is electronic, so it doesn’t require such a large transmission tunnel. Instead, this space can be turned into a storage are. The most recent Chrysler 200 and new Ram trucks are notable examples of this: on the 200, there was a large opening under the center console area; on the Ram trucks, the shift dial is mounted to the dashboard, leaving a cavernous opening in the center console.
Jeep’s decision to add this shifter to the Grand Cherokee isn’t shocking. Although a first for the Jeep brand, the rotary dial shifter has been in quite a few FCA vehicles: Chrysler 200, 300, and Pacifica, Dodge Durango, and Ram trucks. The current Grand Cherokee already has an electronic gear lever to control it’s ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. For the 2014 and 2015 model years, this was a “bump” shifter that returned to the center position after shifting into gear and infuriated a lot of users. Jeep remedied this by using a more traditional-looking shifter starting in 2016, though it still selects gears electronically instead of mechanically.
In the next-generation Grand Cherokee, the rotary shift dial will be placed on the center console with 4WD selection switches flanking it on both sides. Currently, SelecTerrain uses a knob but it appears they are changing that to avoid confusion with the shift knob.
We will soon be covering more features expected in the next-generation Grand Cherokee and other FCA vehicles, so stay tuned for more information.
Ryan had an obsession with cars from a young age, reading NADA books and MotorTrend magazine as well as sketching cars in grade school. He has since moved on to creating renderings in Photoshop and writing about auto news. Ryan lives in Oklahoma.