I agree. The present 3rd gen open passage to the front passenger seat from the driver seat is convenient and airy. That shift lever placement is wasted space. Sometimes you can only get out of the van in a tight parking space via the passenger side.I don't love the giant center console. One of the many benefits of a minivan is being able to walk to the back seats to help kids without going outside in the pouring rain and snow. Putting a shift lever in the middle of the car is annoying - on a hybrid it's just an electrical switch anyway and could easily have been a few buttons on the dash or a steering wheel stalk.