5 of the Coolest Car Shift Levers

Some of the best shift levers feel great in your hand, but these shifters also look as fantastic as they feel.

Benjamin Hunting | 
Jul 5, 2023 | 3 min read

Volvo crystal gear shift knobVolvo

Automakers seem to be determined to end the traditional "PRNDL" arrangement that drivers are used to seeing with automatic gear shift selectors. With knobs, dials, buttons, and orbs all in the picture, there's no end to the variety of shifters on the market. Here are our picks for five of the coolest of the past 10 years.

Jaguar XF interior with rotary shift dialJaguar

Jaguar XJ/XF/Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

For a number of years, Jaguar outfitted several of its cars, including the XJ and XF, with a retractable rotary shift dial. This compact unit rose up out of the perfectly flat center console when the vehicle was turned on. The same type of design was also offered in the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, providing a bit of theatricality to court luxury customers.

Genesis GV60 interior with Crystal Sphere shifterGenesis

Genesis GV60

Genesis took the concept of the rotary shift dial to a new level with its GV60 electric SUV. When the driver enters the vehicle, there's no shifter to be seen in the center console. In its place sits a glowing glass orb, which owners can personalize by choosing the colors that display inside it. When the vehicle is turned on, the orb rotates automatically to reveal a grippy metallic dial that’s used to select forward and reverse gears, along with neutral and park.

Another bit of flair associated with the GV60's shifter? As a gear choice is made, the dial vibrates to let the driver know that the vehicle is processing the command, a fitting complement to this eye-catching actuator.

Volvo Orrefors Swedish crystal gear shift knobVolvo

Volvo XC90/XC60/S90/S60

Monostable shifters — shifters that return to the center position after having been pushed or pulled — have become more popular over the past decade or so. Volvo's take on this concept (available in almost every one of its vehicles) is among the most elegant, featuring a modestly sized stud on the center console that can be finished in genuine Swedish crystal or elegant black. It's simple, takes up little space, and fits in well with the brand's minimalist interior aesthetic.

Lincoln Navigator interior with push button shift keysLincoln

Lincoln Navigator

Push-button shifters date all the way back to the 1950s, but the most recent implementation in the Lincoln Navigator refreshes the concept in a way that stands apart from several of its more complicated competitors. Individual "keys" for park, reverse, neutral, and drive are conveniently positioned between the dashboard and the center stack, putting the transmission controls in an out-of-the-way yet still orderly spot. Think of it as the Steinway version of transmission keys versus the Casio keyboard effect of earlier efforts.

Audi S3 interior with shift leverAudi

Audi S3

The Audi S3 features perhaps the stubbiest gear shift on the market, a small rectangle of brightwork that sits in the center console and can be pushed forward and pulled backward to select the appropriate gear (with a separate button for park). In a vehicle where true interaction with the transmission is accomplished through steering wheel paddles, embracing a switch-sized shifter makes sense for the brand's smallest sports sedan.

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Benjamin Hunting

Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.