2016 Chevrolet Corvette ・ Photo by Chevrolet
There’s a reason why the Ferrari valet scene in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is so epic — even as we’re cheering for those smarmy garage attendants, we’re also a little horrified. Handing your car keys over to a stranger can cause a little anxiety in any car owner, even if the car in question isn’t super expensive or rare. Valet modes vary a little from car to car, but the concept behind them is to limit your car’s speed and prevent the valet from succumbing to temptation. Some systems electronically lock the vehicle’s storage areas, disable the infotainment system, and even record the trip, so you know exactly where your car was driven when you weren’t in it. Here are 10 cars that offer valet mode, in no particular order.
Chevrolet has offered the Corvette with valet mode since 2014. Before handing over the keys, a Corvette owner can activate valet mode by entering the settings menu and entering a 4-digit code. This will electronically lock the center console and glove box, and it disables the stereo and infotainment system to protect the owner’s privacy. Valet mode in the Corvette even takes it a step farther — it’s capable of recording HD video of the driver, as well as everything the valet driver does, thanks to the car’s performance data system that was designed to review and fine-tune on-track performance. When you get your car back, you can check the RPM, speed, shift patterns, and g-forces achieved by your (un)lucky valet.
Photo by Chevrolet
It would be tempting to go a little crazy in a 2017 Tesla Model S, especially one that wasn’t yours, but you wouldn’t get very far. Tesla’s valet mode limits speed to 70 mph, which seems a little on the generous side, though it also limits power and acceleration to 25% of the car’s potential available power. When enabled, the valet mode also locks the glove compartment and the trunk and severely limits access to vehicle settings (arguably, mechanics might need to access settings, which is why they aren’t totally prohibited), and personal information is also protected. A high-tech car like the Tesla Model S, which skirts the line between “car” and “computer” more than ever before, definitely needs as much protection as it can get.
Photo by Tesla
The 2017 Audi A4 is redesigned for the new model year, and it’s more high tech than ever. The A4 comes with the most recent version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, which is one of the best on the market: Crisp, clear picture; easy to use; and full of interesting features. For example, the A4’s infotainment system is compatible not only with smartphones, but with smart watches. So, what exactly can you do with your Apple Watch? If you’re at dinner someplace fancy and you realize you forgot to enable valet mode on your A4, you can do it from the watch. Won’t that college kid be surprised when he goes to pick up your Audi on your way out?
Photo by Audi
The 2017 Volkswagen Passat (and other VWs) use a valet key instead of a code-based system. The valet key lives in a compartment inside the glovebox, next to a button that activates valet mode. Once valet mode is activated, only the valet key can lock or unlock the glovebox and the trunk. Even the trunk pass-through in the backseat can be locked, to prevent a dishonest valet from blindly rifling through the trunk’s contents. True, the Passat’s valet mode might not provide the same peace of mind as a system that electronically limits the car’s drivability, but it’s a cost-efficient way to keep your belongings secure when you find yourself in the position of having to use valet parking.
Photo by Volkswagen
The 2017 Nissan LEAF is offered with the NissanConnect telematics system, which enables LEAF owners to remotely access certain features of the car. One such feature is — you guessed it — valet mode. While the LEAF’s valet mode system doesn’t quite rival systems in the more expensive cars we’ve looked at so far, it definitely makes use of the telematic system’s smartphone capability. After you hand the keys over, use the NissanConnect app on your smartphone to activate valet mode. This records the car’s drop-off location. If your car is driven more than 0.2 miles from the drop-off location while the valet mode is active, you’ll get a notification via your choice of email, text, or phone call.
Photo by Nissan
The 2017 Volvo S60 is another car that features a valet mode that’s designed more to protect your belongings than to protect the car itself. As long as your stuff is tucked away in the glove compartment or the trunk, it’ll be well protected from a renegade valet driver. To access the valet locking system in the Volvo S60, insert the valet key in the glove compartment’s lock and turn it clockwise. When the system is activated, a notification will pop up in the instrument panel to confirm. This prevents the glove compartment and the trunk from being unlocked. It also locks the folding rear seats, so the trunk can’t be accessed through the back row.
Photo by Volvo
The 2017 Jaguar F-TYPE is another good choice for buyers who consider valet mode a must-have feature. F-Type owners can choose and set a 4-digit passcode for valet mode, a feature which is accessed through the infotainment system. Once valet mode is enabled in the F-Type, the trunk and glove compartment are electronically locked to prevent intrusion and theft. Valet mode also disables the F-Type’s touch screen, so no one can go through the sensitive information that’s stored there, like addresses and phone numbers. It would be nice if Jaguar owners could limit the car’s speed or be able to track it via GPS, too -- that’s just what we’d want if we owned a car as sporty as the F-Type.
Photo by Jaguar
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 is a compact luxury coupe that would certainly catch the eye of a restless valet driver. The Q60 uses telematics technology for its valet mode, so the car must be equipped with the Infiniti InTouch Services system and enrolled in the program. The system works with a smartphone app and works similar to the valet mode in the aforementioned Nissan LEAF: after the car has been handed over to the valet, the owner logs into the smartphone app to log the car’s drop-off location. The system then tracks the car, and if it’s driven more than 0.2 miles from the drop-off point, the owner is notified by an email, text, or phone message.
Photo by Infiniti
Cadillac’s large luxury sedan comes standard with the brand’s CUE infotainment system and a 10.2-inch touch screen, which is how the owner accesses the valet mode. The 2017 Cadillac CT6’s valet mode requires a passcode set by the user. When valet mode is enabled on the CT6, the glove compartment is electronically locked and no one can use the infotainment system, which protects sensitive information stored in the system, such as names and addresses, from prying eyes. Cadillac also says that the CT6’s valet mode can be customized to the owner’s preference so that more features are protected. To customize the CT6’s valet mode, use the settings menu on the infotainment system and follow the system’s prompts.
Photo by Cadillac
The midsize Subaru Legacy is definitely one of the more affordable options on our list of cars with valet mode. It’s a little different than the other systems we’ve taken a look at so far. To use valet mode in a 2017 Legacy, the owner must first disable the security system (so let’s hope the valet is parking your car in a secure location). After the system is disabled and the car is in valet mode, the security light will flash every three seconds until valet mode is disabled and the security system is turned back on. Valet mode does allow access to the Subaru’s trunk, so be careful where you store your valuables.
Photo by Subaru