Car WTFs

What’s with Toyota’s weird shifter pattern?

Car WTFs

I like my car. It’s a 2011 Toyota toaster, I mean Camry. If you made a list of everything a car has to do, the Camry would check all the boxes. It gets me from point A to point B with the consistency a learning golfer would envy. It’s a toaster. You put in the bread, choose your level of toastiness, push down the thingy and then wait for it to pop up. But there is one interesting thing about my car. The shifter. That’s it up there. That is definitely not conventional at all. So, what’s with Toyota’s weird shifter pattern?

Toyota Gated Shifter Design

The shifter pattern used by Toyota is designed to function similarly to a traditional gated manual transmission. The “gate” is the metal or plastic pattern that guides the shifter.

A gated shifter helped drivers find the specific gears easier if the car had a picky gearbox, instead of leaving them wandering around in the Transmission Forest for hours searching for the elusive Great Gear of Truth (I don’t know how to drive a stick shift, so I’m assuming this is how it works based on context clues). Also, they look really cool and make a satisfying “clunk” sound when you shift.

Why would an automatic transmission need a gated shifter?

So what good does a gated shifter do on a car with an automatic transmission? You’ll notice the Toyota shifter does not have any kind of unlock button. The gated shifter pattern helps prevent the car from being accidentally knocked into a different gear. It also helps prevent you from “overshooting” when shifting and accidently putting the car in the wrong gear.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve also found that the shifter pattern helps build shifting muscle memory (now I just need a something similar to help me with my golf swing). A few months ago, I got stuck in the snow, and had to set my car in low to help get a little extra traction. This was the first time I’d looked down at the shifter in about two and half years. I know whether the car is in drive or park or reverse (it’s a three-speed) without having to look at the shifter. The gate makes it much easier to do this than a straight-line shifter.

Let’s throw it up to be CarDebated. Are you in favor of a gated shifter? Or a traditional straight-line design?

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