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.