Shift Button Behavior - 2018 w/o paddles | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Shift Button Behavior - 2018 w/o paddles


Well-Known Member
December 18, 2017
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
18 Explorer XLT
My 2018 XLT has shifter mounted shift buttons instead of paddle shifters. It’s been a while since I’ve driven a SelectShift Ford with shifter buttons instead of paddles. The shift buttons only work in S (Sport) mode, and once active the transmission essentially functions as a manual like with the paddles in our Escape. The manual implies I should be able to up/down shift with the buttons outside of Sport mode, and it will return to auto function at the next needed shift change, which is how our Escape and other SelectShift vehicles have functioned, but um...the buttons do nothing in D (Drive). They also do not change behavior in Tow/Haul mode.

I know a lot of you have paddles, but does anybody know if this a change with the 2018, or have the shifter mount buttons never shifted outside of S or M modes on the Explorer? It would be useful to make a temp downshift occasionally on hills, although I have to admit the 6F55 is much cleverer about downhill driving than any of the 6F35 or other Ford transverse transmissions I’ve operated.

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I have the same issue with my 2018; that is, the + and - buttons on the gearshift lever seem to do nothing in Drive. I am not sure if I've also tried it in Sport mode yet, so will have to make it a point to do so.

Interesting thing is, the owner's manual says they should work in either Drive or Sport mode... so why nothing in Drive?

It is odd. It is not the only thing I have found that the manual is less than accurate about (it also describes the function of some of the climate buttons incorrectly for this model year and trim level), but it is the one I cannot find any explanation for. My dealership was able to confirm none of their 2018s without paddle shifters shifted in drive, only in sport. Since I routinely used to use the paddle shifters in our escape to temporarily drop out of 6th gear and avoid braking on the highway, I do notice the difference, because now I would need to drop into sport, which also makes the throttle response much more aggressive, and isn’t always desirable.

Yeah, good point! My previous Ford Edge Sport had the paddles, and I could easily leave it in Drive but use the paddles for controlled engine braking (such as going down steep offramps), and I really liked that feature! As you say, it's not really desireable to have to put it into sport-mode first, before being able to use the feature on the Explorer...

Same here, same here. The buttons only work in Sport mode. I was surprised as well as one would think towing could make use of the button in drive.

Maybe there is a forscan setting for it?

Same here, same here. The buttons only work in Sport mode. I was surprised as well as one would think towing could make use of the button in drive.
I think switching to 'Tow' mode would take care of any required changes to the shifting requirements.


I finally got a chance to test the feature, and you are all correct, it only works in Sport Mode... too bad!