What Cars Park Themselves? These are the 10 Best Self-Parking Cars in 2021
Nothing is as taxing to most drivers as parallel parking. The same process that sent a chill up your spine when you tried to execute it during your very first driver's test can still cause sweaty palms and white knuckles even in the most experienced driver. Add some onlookers positioned on the sidewalk or in other vehicles, and you have the makings of a near panic attack, especially for those who don't use the maneuver very often.
But technology has now come to the rescue. Automatic self-parking systems are getting ever-more-prevalent.
To single out the ten best self-parking cars in 2021, we first had to single out the best cars. Based on what new vehicle owners told us in the J.D. Power 2020 Initial Quality (IQS) Study and the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, we narrowed the field to consider those makes and models that rank well in terms of quality and overall appeal.
Then we cross-referenced the highest-ranked makes and model against the vehicles that offer automatic parking systems. The systems differ in their complexity, with some providing no more than steering assistance while others can take full control and park the vehicle for you.
With that as background to our methodology, if you want to know what cars park themselves, these are the ten best self-parking cars in 2021.
What Cars Park Themselves? The 2021 BMW 7 Series - Find the best BMW deals!
The BMW 7 Series is a longtime favorite among luxury car buyers for its large size, capable handling, and overall refinement. Well regarded for its performance virtues, the 7 Series is also increasingly renowned for its forward-thinking technology.
For example, the 7 Series has standard Parking Assistant Plus, which works in parallel and perpendicular parking situations. The system uses ultrasonic sensors to identify suitable parking spots as the vehicle drives past them. Once the system selects a parking space, the driver continually holds a button to activate and operate Parking Assistant Plus. The system controls the accelerator, brakes, steering, and transmission as it drives itself into the space.
Reversing Assistant is a related technology. It assumes steering control to mirror the path the vehicle most recently took going forward. This system makes backing out of a confined parking place very easy. All the driver has to do is operate the accelerator and brakes and monitor the surrounding area, while the steering follows the exact path the car took to enter the space.
Remote Control Parking is also available for the BMW 7 Series. This upgrade allows the car to autonomously put itself into and pull itself out of tight parking spaces while the owner stands outside of the vehicle operating the system using the key fob.
What Cars Park Themselves? The BMW 8 Series - Find the best BMW deals!
Built at the Dingolfing, Germany factory that is also the home of the BMW 7 Series, the BMW 8 Series recently assumed its place at the head of the BMW product line. Available in the U.S. as a coupe, convertible, and "Gran Coupe" 4-door, the 8 Series offers a high level of luxury as well as thrilling performance.
As with the 7 Series, its Parking Assistant Plus technology can automatically select suitable parallel and perpendicular parking spaces and maneuver into them without input from the driver. With the 8 Series, however, the technology is optional rather than standard equipment.
It works the same way, though. Ultrasonic sensors identify appropriately sized spaces as the vehicle drives by them. You activate the system by pressing and holding a button on the center console. Then the technology takes care of acceleration, braking, steering, and changing gears as it autonomously parks the 8 Series.
The 8 Series also offers Reversing Assistant (see description above), but BMW's Remote Control Parking technology is unavailable for the 8 Series.
What Cars Park Themselves? The BMW X5 - Find the best BMW deals!
Built exclusively in Spartanburg, S.C., as it has been for over 20 years, the BMW X5 is a midsize crossover SUV. It offers plenty of luxury and technology features such as BMW Live Cockpit Professional with two 12.3-inch digital displays decorating the dashboard. And yes, it can park itself.
The BMW X5's available Parking Assistant Plus technology operates similarly to the system in the 7 Series and 8 Series. It can find an appropriately parallel or perpendicular parking space and then perform virtually every function necessary to get the SUV parked, including steering, acceleration, braking, and shifting.
Reversing Assistant is also available to help the X5 trace its exact previous path, only in reverse. However, BMW's Remote Control Parking system is not available for the X5.
What Cars Park Themselves? The BMW X6 - Find the best BMW deals!
Take one BMW X5, add a fastback roofline that reduces cargo and passenger space, bump up the price, and you have the BMW X6, which the automaker refers to as Sports Activity Coupe.
Naturally, the BMW X6 offers both Parking Assistant Plus and Reversing Assistant technologies, and they work the same way as in other BMW models. The company's Remote Control Parking system is unavailable for the X6.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Cadillac CT5 - Find the best Cadillac deals!
The Cadillac CT5 is a luxury sedan that blends high technology like Super Cruise, a Level 2+ advanced driving assistance system (ADAS), with an upscale interior filled with creature comforts. Cadillac's Super Cruise ADAS enables customers to drive hands-free on more than 130,000 miles of limited-access freeways in the U.S. and Canada.
Not only can the CT5 steer itself, but it can also park itself with a little help from its driver. An optional Parking Package includes an Automatic Parking Assist with Braking system. The technology can identify appropriately sized parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, then steer and brake the vehicle into that space while the driver handles gear changes and any necessary application of the gas pedal. This system can also help you to pull out of a parallel parking spot safely.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Cadillac XT4 - Find the best Cadillac deals!
The Cadillac XT4 is a compact crossover SUV available in Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Sport trim levels. The Luxury and Premium Luxury versions offer traditional Cadillac-style exterior and interior treatments. In contrast, the Sport versions capture a more international flair with a gloss black mesh grille inspired by Cadillac's V-Series models, gloss black window moldings, and performance-oriented alloy wheels.
Among a trio of special packages available on the XT4 is the Enhanced Visibility Package. It includes a rear pedestrian alert system, a rear camera mirror, a high-definition surround-view camera system, and Automatic Parking Assist with Braking. In this Cadillac, the technology works just as it does in the CT5 sedan. The system can locate an appropriate parallel or perpendicular space and then perform steering and braking functions during the parking maneuver.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Cadillac XT5 - Find the best Cadillac deals!
The Cadillac XT5 is tough to quantify. It's a little bigger than a compact crossover SUV but a little smaller than a midsize model. It competes against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Volvo XC60.
One area in which the XT5 shines is technology. For example, this year, the SUV adds Amazon Alexa and wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system also uses sophisticated Near Field Communication (NFC) protocol to link smartphones to the Bluetooth connection.
Cadillac offers an optional Enhanced Visibility and Technology Package for the XT5, and it contains Automatic Parking Assist with Braking. And it works the same way as the same system does in the CT5 and XT4 above.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Chevrolet Malibu - Find the best Chevrolet deals!
The Chevrolet Malibu is a midsize family sedan that, surprisingly, offers various features commonly found on significantly more expensive luxury-brand automobiles. Among them are wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.
An Enhanced Driver Confidence Package is available on the top Premier trim level. It includes a litany of driver and safety aids such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic warning, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. It also equips the Malibu with Automatic Parking Assist.
This version of the technology is not as sophisticated as what General Motors installs in its Cadillacs. It steers the vehicle during the parking maneuver but requires the driver to accelerate, brake, and change gears.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Lincoln Corsair - Find the best Lincoln deals!
The Lincoln Corsair is a new compact luxury SUV that debuted for the 2020 model year. Equipped with a modern look and filled with high-tech features, the 5-seat Corsair offers a variety of driver assistance systems, especially when you choose its optional Co-Pilot360 Plus option package.
Among other features, this upgrade equips the SUV with Traffic Jam Assist to relieve stress during the commute, Evasive Steering Assist to improve vehicle stability when taking sudden corrective action, and Active Park Assist Plus, which parks the Corsair without input from the driver.
Activate the technology, and it scans for an appropriately sized parallel or perpendicular parking space. After the driver confirms that the Corsair should use it, Active Park Assist Plus handles all of the steering, shifting, braking, and accelerating functions during the parking maneuver. That makes it just as sophisticated as BMW's technology above.
What Cars Park Themselves? The Lincoln Navigator- Find the best Lincoln deals!
The Lincoln Navigator is a full-size, traditional body-on-frame SUV that features a great deal of bling, three rows of seats, and plenty of technology – including a lengthy list of driver assistance features.
One of the Navigator's innovative driving aids is speed-dependent adaptive lighting, a technology that provides a broader spread of light at lower speeds that narrows as the vehicle accelerates. But we're here to discuss Enhanced Active Parking Assist, which isn't quite as sophisticated as the Active Park Assist Plus the automaker installs in the smaller Corsair.
In this Lincoln SUV, Enhanced Active Parking Assist helps the driver discover appropriately sized parallel and perpendicular parking spots – no small task given the Navigator's bulk. Then it will steer the SUV hands-free into the parking space while the driver controls gear changes, acceleration, and braking. A "park-out" feature enables the Navigator to self-steer out of the parking place as well.
BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Lincoln are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on February 3, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.
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