Shifter shimming

  Any car is going to have its share of ergonomics issues, and the Kona is no exception.  I don't like its seats, for example, but for me that's true of just about any modern car -- they are all about "lumbar support", and the result is that they just pull my ass down into the crack between seat-cushion and back so it feels like the seat is trying to fold me in half.  The Kona in particular has a pushbutton shift control in the center console, which frankly is badly placed and basically has *no* usable tactile cues to facilitate operation without glancing down at it.

So while fumbling around to go between Drive and Neutral, which I often do at traffic lights and other slow maneuvering, it was far too easy to unintentionally hit Park.  At any speed over 1 or 2 mph all that produces is warning beeping, but if the car is moving slowly enough, SLAM, the park-lock engages with the expected abrupt, lurching stop as a result.  After about the third go-round of that I'd had enough, and it was time to make Park far less easily available.

This sharply brings home the rationale for the Prius design of having the Park button distinctly separate from the little lever shifter.  People didn't understand it at the time, but I bet if Park had been integrated into shifter movement that was somewhat nonstandard already, they would have been hollering for something different right quick.

Center flying-bridge panel snapped up It's a little unclear how the center console comes apart, but the manuals help a little.  It basically snaps up from the rear just ahead of the armrest compartment, and once it's mostly free the front end can duck out from under where it sits under the climate controls.

My solution to the car seat problem is visible here.  It's a small triangular pillow that tucks one edge down into the ass-swallowing crack and makes the whole seat more "buckety".  That turns out to be far better for *my* back; other people may vary.

Shift button module With the panel out and flipped over, the shifter button and parking brake switch assembly can be unscrewed out of it.

There is kind of a hill of plastic just behind the button array, where the small black panel behind "N" sits.  This may have been Hyundai's nod to *some* ergo thing to feel for, but it doesn't work.  One reason is that the driver's arm has to move so far back to reach any of this, with the elbow out alongside the seat back.  I seriously toyed with the idea of moving the entire button module forward, cutting it into where the "phone pocket" is in the large flat black plastic area, but that would have involved major and undoubtedly ugly mods to the panel.  I would first try for a less invasive solution.  It is interesting to note that the same button matrix is used in the Nexo, and *is* mounted farther forward in its console.

Shift button module details Shift button module details
The shift-button module itself comes apart; it's yet another "intelligent" node on a network, ultimately talking to the main power control module.  Here are two views of the board and the button membrane that goes over it; the right-hand shot shows the surfaces that meet and conduct.  Each button actually has *three* pads for contact, evidently for some redundancy/reliability as the assembly grows old and crufty.  [Like its owner..]  The white chunks are the blue and yellow LEDs for state indicator and general illumination, which are sent up little light-pipes to the button surfaces.

Park-button finger guard design The general thought was to mount *something* over the Park button to make it harder to hit by mistake, but with the whole panel off and disassembled I could do a much more elegant job by working *through* it instead of from the surface.  I thru-mounted two short spacers to either side of the button, after which I could basically bolt down anything I wanted across them.  For a first go I chose a thin piece of clear plastic, part of some very stiff bubble package that a product came in.

[The panel is sitting sideways on the driveway, if the perspective looks a little weird; I needed to show the barrier spacing]

Fasteners for the rest of the bridge Before snapping the panel back on, it's worth noting what would need to be addressed to get any more of the console apart.  It's clear that the right and left sides of it are held on by quite a few fasteners, both screw and snap, and that pulling the top panel must be a first step before getting at any of the rest of it.

One amusing thing to note is that the little spring-bumps in the cup holder are all tensioned by *one* large O-ring wrapped around both holders.  Kinda cheezy, but at least if they all suddenly go floppy I know what happened...

Park-button guard in place Everything back together, with the anti-mistake guard now in place.  Park is engaged by a finger *carefully* slid underneath the flexible clear piece, because cuticle damage could result from being hasty, and hitting the button.  The front part of the plastic between the spacers is folded over and thus stiffer, serving as reinforcement for the whole thing.  And what's nice about the clear plastic is that you can see through it to the "P" and its lights.

The spacer toward the driver now provides a nice tactile anchor, so that a hand moved down here without looking quickly finds the right positioning.  It seems most comfortable to land the tip of my ring finger against the spacer, and then the ring finger and little finger are in a good spot to control D and N.  Reverse is kind of still way over there, but easy enough to feel over to.

  As with any "automatic transmission" type of arrangement with built-in creep, it's almost impossible to come to a complete stop without that little suspension-unloading lurch.  I've always hated that, it's against my smooth-driving principles, so I usually pop into Neutral at a full stop until rolling ceases, and then back into Drive when about to take off again.  It's a personal choice and not what everyone would want to do, but the *ability* to do it as I choose is important.

The Kona is a little more insistent about a foot on the service brake pedal for most shifting operations, but it turns out this is rather relaxed for D and N transitions.  If the car is rolling basically at all, over 2 mph or so, a N ==> D shift is doable.  So at speed, one can freely go to N to, for example, clean off rusted-up brake rotors down a convenient hill, and then back into D to continue normally.  Like in the Prius, Neutral means "don't control the motor" which means all braking is then done by the hydraulics.  It is always good to have that level of understanding about these cars, as it's often hard to tell the difference by butt-feel, and that general mode of operation has become fairly industry-standard for hybrid and electric drivetrains.

Secret fifth button area The shift-button module has a fifth secret button!  Leaving the black plastic bit out of the "ergo bump" reveals this.  In some other car's setup another button might slide down into this well and hit the three bumps down there, possibly to effect a "low" mode or something.  A quick look around didn't turn up any cars that use such a thing, so ... dunno.  Sticking a finger down and pushing any of those does nothing for the Kona, so I slapped some gaff tape over the hole and forgot about it.

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