Self-parking cars were originally targeted to premium customers, yet the technology is so useful in the real world that it’s now beginning to reach into some surprisingly mainstream segments. After all, parallel parking remains a tricky task even for an experienced driver, and it’s one that can quickly lead to dents and dings to both the vehicle and the owner’s pride. The latest systems make easy work of parallel and perpendicular parking, however, with the ability to locate adequately sized spots and take over a variety of vehicle functions, from steering to braking to shifting. The newest systems don’t even require that someone’s in the car, as they allow owners to manage automatic parking — and un-parking — from a smartphone app. Meanwhile, Autobytel experts have managed to find 10 best self-parking cars from across the industry.
10 Best Self Parking Cars
Photo Credit: Lincoln
2016 Lincoln MKS
Self-parking cars like the 2016 Lincoln MKS make a lot of sense since the length of full-size sedans like this can present quite a challenge on city streets. Yet despite the MKS stretching more than 205 inches — so it's over a foot longer than the midsize MKZ — Lincoln owners can get a distinct advantage by ordering the Technology Package with Active Park Assist. This sonar-based technology can recognize a right-sized parallel parking place, then automatically steer the car into that spot while guiding the driver to operate the brake, gas, and transmission. In other words, this system does all the tough stuff. It also gets paired with package’s adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation and brake support, as well as a lane-keeping system.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is packed with enough technology to give the brand’s flagship S-Class a run for its money, so it’s naturally among the most innovative of the self-parking cars. Thus, the E-Class Parking Pilot does it all, not only steering the car into a parallel — or perpendicular — parking spot, but also handling shifting and braking duties. It also can steer the E-Class back out of the spot, which often is just as tough. Later this year, however, Mercedes plans on raising the bar once again, with a Remote Parking Pilot. With this technology, owners will be able to use a smartphone app for automatic parking, so folks don’t have to worry about squeezing in or out themselves.
Photo Credit: Ford
2016 Ford Focus
Of course, customers should keep in mind that self parking cars aren’t limited to the luxury choices. The 2016 Ford Focus, for example, is one of a growing number of affordable mainstream cars to offer that benefit. The Blue Oval’s Active Park Assist technology is a $395 option on the Focus Titanium Sedan, which has an MSRP of $23,225, and that means owners can enjoy automatic parking for as low as $23,620; a similarly equipped Focus Titanium Hatch is only $500 more. Nor is that the end of the value story. As the range-topper of the Focus family, the price of the Titanium trim includes standard premium features such as the latest SYNC 3 infotainment system, heated front seats and a 10-speaker Sony sound setup.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2016 Toyota Prius
The all-new fourth-generation 2016 Toyota Prius has all the top-notch fuel-saving technology that drivers have come to expect from the best-selling hybrid in the world, and in fact, it raises standard EPA ratings to a best-in-class 54 MPG city/50 MPG highway/52 MPg combined. But enhancements like a smaller and lighter lithium-ion battery are merely part of the story. There are also enough upgraded occupant-protection features for the Prius to earn a Top Safety Pick+ recognition from the IIHS — with a Superior rating for front crash-prevention technology. And yes, those include Intelligent Clearance Sonar and Intelligent Parking Assist, allowing the Prius Four to proudly take its place with the rest of our self-parking cars — and those with automatic un-parking, too.
Photo Credit: Subaru
2016 Chrysler 200
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the 2016 Chrysler 200 isn’t the most popular midsize sedan in town. It’s actually a worthwhile alternative to some of the more common names in the segment, as well as to other self parking cars. For that, the uplevel 200C can be ordered with Chrysler’s SafetyTec Group, furnishing owners with Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist with Stop. Also in the bundle are popular driver-assistance measures, too, like adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assistance, forward collision warning and a blind-spot monitor. Now, all that requires also ponying up for nav, sound and lighting enhancements, but with current discount offers — which vary and can change without notice — folks can get into that loaded 200C for just over $30K.
Photo Credit: Tesla
2016 Tesla Model S
Self parking cars with remote-parking capability are already available in the shape of the 2016 Tesla Model S, with its “Summon” app. This technology can be used by owners to park and unpark Tesla’s all-electric luxury sedan from the comfort of their own smartphones, even to the point of having the car “come greet you at the front door in the morning,” according to the automaker. Prefer to stay behind the wheel as the parking proceeds? The Model S will let customers do that as well. Further, the same comprehensive sensor array that supports the Summon system — and the same ability to digitally control the engine, brakes and steering — also enable the Model S’s other Autopilot functions, including lane keeping, collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control.
Photo Credit: BMW
2016 BMW i3
Although there are some notable exceptions, self parking cars still tend to be especially high-tech vehicles, like the 2016 BMW i3. This is BMW’s compact electric vehicle, and while the car does deliver a certain amount of its brand’s hallmark driving excitement, its main goal is efficient travel: The i3 can be configured with either an all-electric powertrain that’s good for 81 miles of driving on a single charge or with an extended-range setup, which combines 72 miles of EV driving with another 78 under gasoline power — for an overall range of 150 miles. In either case, the i3 can be fitted with BMW’s Parking Assistant to supply fully automatic parking, including steering, braking, shifting and acceleration.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2016 Chevrolet Malibu
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu represents an all-new model for the Bowtie brand’s midsize nameplate, and it’s by far the most technologically sophisticated. Mobile Wi-Fi, 4G LTE connectivity, Bose audio, and Android/Apple smartphone integration are all in the mix from the infotainment department, with the safety team pitching in with forward collision alert, lane keeping, front pedestrian alert and the proverbial much, much more. Shoppers looking for mainstream self parking cars also can count on the Malibu for Automatic Parking Assist, to steer the popular midsize sedan into both parallel and perpendicular parking places. It’s available in a package for the luxurious Malibu Premier, along with the full complement of driver-assistance measures — and plenty of standard premium amenities.
Photo Credit: General Motors
2017 Cadillac CT6
Launched earlier this year to compete against the industry’s most premium self parking cars, the 2017 Cadillac CT6 showcases a setup that welcomes automatic braking to the brand’s Advanced Park Assist version 2.0. Yet the technology aboard Cadillac’s new flagship doesn’t stop there. Beyond typical luxury tech — and the CT6 is loaded with that — the car also debuts a 360-degree video array that automatically engages if the security system is set off, and the new Cadillac is the first in the industry with a full-display, video-based rearview mirror, increasing backward visibility by 200 percent (per the brand). Impressively, the Cadillac Rear Camera Mirror was chosen by Popular Science for a “Best of What’s New” award when it was first shown to the public.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
2016 Volkswagen Passat
The numerous selling points of the 2016 Volkswagen Passat have been obscured somewhat by the brand’s diesel drama, yet VW’s gasoline-powered midsize sedan has clear benefits over some other entries in the segment. For instance, the SEL Premium trim helps populate our list of self parking cars with standard Park Distance Control and Parking Steering Assistant. Working together, these technologies can identify perpendicular or parallel parking places for the Passat, then provide steering and guidance for the driver, to get the car safely situated. That comes as part of the trim’s $34,270 MSRP and complements standard LED headlights, Fender audio, a hands-free power-opening trunk, smartphone integration, and a portfolio of popular high-tech safety measures.