One option on many new cars and trucks is an automatic parallel parking system that will determine if a spot is big enough, make it easy to line up to park and then automatically parallel park the car by spinning the wheel around until the car is perfectly situated between two vehicles.
The name of this feature varies from manufacturer to manufacture, but for drivers who lack parallel parking skills and consistently park in small spaces downtown it is a must have.
We are reviewing the 2014 Ford Escape and the review vehicle came equipped with Active park Assist, which is Ford’s name for the parallel parking feature across the Ford lineup. While many call this Automatic parallel parking, the use does need to perform some actions to make it work.
First off, users will need to activate the feature by pushing a button on the dash. Next, pull slowly forward until a spot is identified and continue to drive forward until the car signals that it is lined up for a perfect parallel parking job. Once this is ready, the car notifies the user to put the car in reverse. Once in reverse the car will steer into the space and park. A very important note is that the driver is in control of the brake. They control how fast the car moves into the parking spot and stops the car completely when the parking is complete.
2014 Ford Escape Active Park Assist Video
To give you an idea what it is like to automatically park a car with a service like this we set up Google Glass to record the process for a driver’s eye view of Active Park Assist.
Using the Active Park Assist is a bit nerve-wracking the first time, not because of the way Ford set the system up, but in trusting the car to park for you. After a few uses, the feature becomes more like second nature and the intricacies of slowly driving past a parking spot and trusting the car becomes easier.
The user maintains enough control with the brakes that it is possible to still react to oncoming traffic. During one parking attempt a car came up behind blocking the parking spot so we had to cancel the parking and drive off.