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Recalled Lincoln MKC gets new shift buttons

Previous button placement could cause shutdown

Published: May 27, 2015 08:00 AM

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Late last year, Lincoln recalled the MKC for the replacement of the buttons that make up its dash-mounted shift controls. There was no technical fault that led to this action being taken. Rather, the layout of the buttons that essentially replaced a conventional shift lever were designed poorly.

In its original configuration, the start/stop button sits at the bottom of a column of shifter buttons positioned precariously close to the navigation and radio controls. A driver looking to change the radio preset, or perform some other onscreen function, could easily rest his or her thumb on the start/stop button, trying to steady the hand for operating the touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion. At low speeds, this could cause the car to shut off and come to an abrupt halt. This happened to several owners.

The original layout risked unintentional pressing of the Start/Stop button.

New parts from Lincoln move the start/stop button to the top of the shift column. After the fix, if you accidentally brace your thumb at the bottom of the shifter, it will hit the S or Sport mode button.

We are pleased to see that Lincoln is addressing this design issue, but wonder why the company did not foresee this problem in the car's development phase. Lincoln is just one of a number of car companies ditching traditional, intuitive driver controls in favor of unique, brand-specific designs. These new shifters might save space, but they can be confusing for the consumer, even potentially dangerous, due to their unusual operation. This is especially a concern for new owners transitioning from the standard design, and for one-time users, like a valet or a friend borrowing the car.

We hope that this Lincoln issue, and the fix, serve as a lesson for other automakers designing vehicles with unconventional driver controls.

Read our complete Lincoln MKC road test.

—George Kennedy

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