Perpendicular parking gives me a headache.
Here’s why: After driving to the mall or a farm supply store in my area, the last thing I want to do is think about parking angles and navigate around other cars. In fact, people who know me well and have driven around town with me know I will go out of my way to find a parking spot that is far from any other cars. I usually make a joke about getting more exercise — you know, for the extra five minutes it takes to walk into the store.
Testing the 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer made me rethink my strategy. Using the combined technologies of what Jeep calls ParkSense Automated Parking System and ParkSense Front and Rear Park-Assist with Stop, I decided to park right at the front of the mall by the door. The reason is that you can perpendicular-park with the press of a button.
I’ve been testing automated parking features since at least 2010. I remember going to a Ford-Lincoln dealership once and testing out a parallel park feature when it debuted. (I can’t recall the actual model, but I think it might have been a Lincoln MKS.). I was amazed at how it works, but I do remember having to brake as the car maneuvered into a spot.
Not long after that, I also recall testing perpendicular parking as well. In the Grand Wagoneer, you press a parking button to activate the system. Like most of the auto-parking tech around today, the vehicle then goes into a search mode scanning for an available spot. At the mall, this meant I drove slowly to find my spot close to the front.
Now, the Wagoneer is not small. It is about the same size as an Escalade or a Tahoe. I was worried for about five seconds that this was going to be a bad idea. I found a spot (or, I should say — the Wagoneer alerted me to one) and I switched into reverse. The vehicle takes over the steering but I continue to press the gas and brakes. However, as I drove back, I noticed the Wagoneer sensed another vehicle and slowed to a stop. This was my clue to pull forward as the vehicle adjusted the steering again. I switched to reverse and pulled in perfectly between two vehicles. I will say it takes some practice, not to get the angles right, but to trust that it is all working. After a few more tries later that week, I was parking like a pro.
The real question here is whether it is worth taking the time to use this feature, and I would say it is once you start trusting how it works. Eventually, everything in life becomes routine. I could see pulling into any mall and saying, well, I don’t have to worry about parking because the vehicle will do it for me.
In a few years from now, I wonder if this tech will advance further. For example, live satellite imagery could be fed to the vehicle so it knows where to find an open spot. You could press the button as you pull into the parking lot and take your hands off the wheel, and the car would then find the best spot and park. I know some Tesla models can even park while you are outside of the vehicle. I’m envisioning a time when all parking is automated for most cars.
For now, ParkSense Automated Parking System and ParkSense Front and Rear Park-Assist with Stop are impressive features. I miss the extra steps, but the system saves time and puts me closer to the mall without the typical parking hassles.