Gear positions for automatic gearbox

With an automatic gearbox, the system chooses the gear so that driving is optimal. The gearbox also has a manual gearshift mode.

Gear positions in the driver display

P5-1507-gear shifter with gear shift modes

The driver display shows the gear selector's position:

P, R, N, D or M.

In manual gearshift mode, the gear being used is also shown.

Gear positions

Park position - P

Select the P position when the car is parked or when starting the engine. The car must be stationary when the park position is selected.

To be able to move the gear selector from the park position, the brake pedal must be depressed and the ignition position must be II.

The gearbox is mechanically blocked when the P position is engaged. Apply the parking brake first when the car is parked.


Always use the parking brake when parking on an inclined surface. Engaging a gear or the automatic transmission's P position is not sufficient to hold the car stationary in all situations.


The gear selector must be in P position to allow the car to be locked and alarmed.

Reverse position - R

Select position R to reverse. The car must be stationary when reverse position is selected.

Neutral position - N

No gear is engaged and the engine can be started. Apply the parking brake if the car is stationary with the gear selector in N position.

To be able to change from the neutral position to another gear position, the brake pedal must be depressed and the ignition position must be II.

Drive position - D

D is the normal driving position. Shifting up and down takes place automatically based on the level of acceleration and speed. The car must be stationary when changing gear from R position to D position.

Manual gearshift mode - M

The manual gearshift mode can be selected at any time while driving. The car engine-brakes when the accelerator pedal is released.

Select manual gearshift mode by moving the gear selector sideways from position D to the end position at "±". The driver display shows which gear is engaged at the time.

  • Press the gear selector forwards to "+" (plus) to change up one step and release it.
  • Press the gear selector backwards to "" (minus) to change down one step and release it.
P5-1507-XC90- manual gear ind driver display
manual gearshift mode in the driver display1.

The gearbox automatically shifts down if the speed decreases to a level lower than appropriate for the selected gear, in order to avoid jerking and stalling.

To return to automatic gear changing, press the gear selector sideways to the end position at D.


When the accelerator pedal is pressed all the way to the floor (beyond the position normally regarded as full acceleration) a lower gear is immediately engaged. This is known as kick-down.

If the accelerator is released from the kick-down position, the gearbox automatically changes up.

Kick-down is used when maximum acceleration is needed, such as for overtaking.

Safety function

To prevent over-revving of the engine, the gearbox control program has a protective downshift inhibitor.

The gearbox does not permit downshifting/kick-down which would result in an engine speed high enough to damage the engine. Nothing happens if the driver still tries to shift down in this way at high engine speed – the original gear remains engaged.

When kick-down is activated the car can change one or more gears at a time depending on engine speed. The car changes up when the engine reaches its maximum speed in order to prevent damage to the engine.

  1. 1 The figure is schematic, the layout may vary depending on the car's equipment.