Lincoln MKZ: The car that parks itself

Written by on September 24, 2013 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 15 Comments

IMG_8039Just about the only way I’d want to drive an ample sedan like the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is if it could park itself. Luckily, that’s just what the lovely people at Ford offered me.

First of all, let’s be clear on one thing. This ain’t no grampa car. Stodgy has been replaced with slick. The rakish burgundy Lincoln was more Donna Karan than Betty White, with creamy leather upholstery, stylish wood accents, and swoopy dashboard. To say nothing of a sunroof the size of Alberta, so that even back-seat passengers can enjoy the view. IMG_8069

Naturally, the MKZ was loaded with all kinds of tech toys, which were mostly accessible through the touchscreen. Heated seats front and back, and even a heated steering wheel. And, wonder of wonders, a push-button transmission! Yes, the touch-pads were lined up along one side – just like my dad’s 1963 Valiant. In fact, all the controls for stereo volume, tuning, climate and fan were touch sensitive. I suppose buttons and knobs are passé. Driving along Queen’s Quay, I saw a Tesla roadster go by and wondered longingly if he had any buttons or knobs in his fancy car.

And if I wanted to parallel park, it was like having an attentive butler at my disposal. All I had to do was sidle up to a likely looking spot, press the park assist touch-pad, and the car took over. The touchscreen gave genteel commands to go forward and back, and the steering turned this way and that, completely on its own. Yes, you read that right. Handsfree. No hands, ma. The car parked itself, and all I had to do was a bit of braking and accelerating. A noisy sensor system judged the distance and those pesky angles for me.

It was surreal, having a car park itself, watching the wheel spin. At first, I couldn’t quite trust it, and kept a wary eye on the touchscreen. When it was done, it would announce “park assist finished” with a flourish.

And the butler, oops, the MKZ, would politely pull the seat back and raise the steering wheel when I stopped the car to get out. Thank you, Jeeves. And then restore the seat and steering wheel as soon as I started it up again. That will be all, Jeeves.

photoOf course, it would have been nice if the MKZ could actually sniff out a parking spot for me in the packed streets of downtown Toronto. Or interpret the impossible legalese on the parking signs. And maybe even pick up the tab. But even a real butler wouldn’t do that.

And then there was the matter of the keyless entry. A fob will lock and unlock the car, but there’s also a numerical keypad on the outside. Which I didn’t realize was as ultra sensitive as these keypads come. Unsuspecting, I leaned up against it and immediately locked myself out. When I heard the click, my stomach sank into my knees. Fortunately, a kind young couple lent me their cellphone so I could call the CAA,  and a lock whisperer (not quite a butler) skillfully jimmied the door open.

Lock WhispererBut that didn’t stop me from tearing around town and parking the MKZ wherever I could. Like a classy butler, he obeyed every time, no matter how impossible the spot. We parked uptown, downtown, in the Beach, even in Parkdale. It was mesmerizing to watch the wheel turn this way and that, all by itself, while I whistled a happy tune.

I watched other, less luxurious cars go by, and almost wished I could share my bag of tricks with them. Give them a little piece of sunroof.  A Sinatra tune, or a couple of parking sensors.

But no, I kept it all to myself. I don’t know why I was suddenly so selfish.

I guess – the butler did it.

LIncoln MKZ rear

 

15 Comments on "Lincoln MKZ: The car that parks itself"

  1. Jeri September 24, 2013 at 9:47 pm · Reply

    I honestly don’t think I’ve parallel-parked since taking driver’s training in high school. Hubby’s had a few rental cars for work that self-park, and he loves it. At the very least, a back-up camera would be great. I wouldn’t mind driving a Lincoln either 😉

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 26, 2013 at 3:02 am · Reply

      You said it, Jeri. Not many people need to parallel park these days, and this technology is so handy. It really was mesmerizing watching the wheel turn all by itself, almost like it was possessed or something! I’ve found the back-up cameras to be extremely helpful, especially when getting into a tight spot. And that Lincoln was very posh. I always made sure I had lipstick on when I drove!

  2. Debra Yearwood September 25, 2013 at 12:24 am · Reply

    All cars should come with self-park, honestly, who likes to park? That should just be standard. Having said that, I’d be one of the first people in line for a car that drove itself, yes I love driving that much. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 26, 2013 at 3:04 am · Reply

      Parking can be a pain, especially in a crowded urban centre like Toronto. It’s interesting that more cars don’t come with this feature. However, almost every new car that I’ve driven has a rear view camera, which is the next best thing. And that self-driving car may be here before you know it – all the major manufacturers seem to be working on some version of it.

  3. Arleen September 26, 2013 at 12:49 am · Reply

    I would love a car that self parked. What I do is get our of the car and tell my husband to parallel park. I am not doing that. If someone left me two spaces I would, otherwise I am not doing it. I like my back up camera, but I could use one in the front and one the sides. Now that would be the Ultimate driving machine.

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 26, 2013 at 3:07 am · Reply

      Hah! I like your solution. Parking can be such a chore, it’s one of my least favourite aspects of driving. The Lincoln could only parallel park, it couldn’t back into a spot, which would have been a real charm. But it did have sensors all over it that would beep and flash if I came too close to anything. Might not be a camera – which could be confusing – but still made a difference!

  4. Patricia Weber September 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm · Reply

    Parallel parking, being able to to do it regularly, is on my list! Teehee.

    I do have a back up camera on my daily driver and that helps, sort of.

    As far as the parking space, I always call on the parking space angel when I am headed out and somehow, magically, THERE is a space for me in an otherwise crowded parking area. She is always available to assist with everyone I hear!

    Thanks for the fun post Krystyna.

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 27, 2013 at 1:16 am · Reply

      Thank goodness for the parking angel (PA)! The MKZ can measure and get in the parking spot, but can’t actually sniff one out. Looks like the car makers will have to team up with the PA – maybe the next generation parking system? A little angel sparkle couldn’t hurt. Would make for a great blog post, too!

      Thanks for stopping by, Patricia!

  5. Niekka McDonald September 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm · Reply

    I love the MKZ it is extremely nice. I don’t know if I can get use to a car parking itself lol. I’m so use to doing it myself that I can see me and the car fighting over who will park it.

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 27, 2013 at 1:17 am · Reply

      That would be one heck of an arm-wrestling contest, Niekka! I didn’t trust the car at first and went verrry sloowwwly until I realized it was more than capable of parking itself. And yes, it’s a very swanky ride, much more so than what I usually get – so I felt like royalty!

  6. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) September 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm · Reply

    Parallel parking is one of few skills! LOL I learned to drive in Louisville KY, where there was almost always ONLY parallel parking, so I got quite good at it. It has stuck with me, Lord knows why. I have had a backup camera in my car the last two models, but never use it. Still do the old fashioned mirror and over the shoulder look. Seems to me that if I had a car that parked itself, it might be a little like having the guy lead on the dance floor… never was good at that 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski September 27, 2013 at 1:21 am · Reply

      I learned to drive in the suburbs, where there wasn’t much traffic (at the time). But driving in the city, you have to be good and fast at parallel parking, or else someone will nip in and steal your spot. That was my only issue with the MKZ, it was on the slow side and I thought I’d lose the spot a couple of times. And yes, it is hard to relinquish complete control of the car to … the car. Good analogy, like leading on the dance floor – guilty as charged! : ))

  7. Susan Cooper September 27, 2013 at 4:27 am · Reply

    Wow I want a car that self parks itself. I really think this is a great thing. The MKZ is very stylish. 🙂

  8. Mark Brody September 28, 2013 at 12:59 am · Reply

    I feel so humbled that I had to learn how to parallel park in a full sized, wood grained finished station wagon. Who da thunk it that cars would be parking themselves. Then again, when I started driving, I think the Flintstone mobile was stylish… just sayin…

    It is interesting that automanufacturers are prototyping auto-driving cars. It is a amazing how fast technology has come in less than 100 years!

    Thank you for sharing!!

  9. Becc September 30, 2013 at 2:09 am · Reply

    Now a car that could sniff out a parking spot or interpret the impossible legalese on the parking signs and pick up the tab is a car that you seriously could not turn down right?
    For now a car that parks itself, will do 🙂

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