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If you’re on the hunt for a mid-size sedan and are leaning toward either a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry, I would suggest that you check out a 2021 Hyundai Sonata before you make up your mind. The Sonata was recently redesigned and it looks sharp, drives very smooth, and it’s even available with a cool “smart park” feature that is indeed smart, but also pretty pointless.

What is the “smart park” feature?

The “smart feature” on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata enables you to remotely park the car when it’s lined up with your intended parking space. According to Hyundai, the car can travel up to 23 feet in either direction when controlled via the smart park buttons on the key fob. Also, this feature is only found on the top-trim Limited version of the Sonata, and, fortunately, it’s a standard feature.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited in dark blue parked in the desert with mountains in the background.
2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited | Joe Santos

How does smart park work?

The smart park feature utilizes the Sonata’s electronic gear shifter and steering to operate the car and its parking sensors to detect any objects in front of it or behind it, whether they be moving or standing still.

Does it work well?

During my week of driving the 2021 Sonata Limited, I found that the smart park feature worked well but mainly as a party trick. When I figured how to use it, I was a little disappointed that it takes almost a full 30 seconds from the time that you remotely start the car to the time that it actually starts to move. First-world problems, I know.

But in the event that you do need to use in a crowded parking situation, like a shopping mall parking lot, where other cars are waiting for your spot, I doubt that anyone would think it’s “cool” to watch your Hyundai pull out of a parking spot all by itself, in a straight line, no less. And that’s the other part; the Sonata only moves forward or backward with the smart park feature, so don’t expect to impress anyone nearby with a “no-hands” parallel parking stunt.

2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited parked in the desert with mountains in the background
2021 Hyundai Sonata Limited | Joe Santos

What’s the point of the “smart park” feature?

As far as I know, the “smart park” feature is mainly for those random times that you need to get into a tight parking spot between two cars where you wouldn’t be able to open the door when you parked. Either that or if you have a really small garage in which to park your $35,000 Hyundai.

Barring those two rare scenarios, the “smart park” feature is more of a fun party trick to show off to your friends or your non-caring girlfriend that would rather get into a warm car than watch it magically move back and forth with the push of a button. Granted, I will say that it’s a cool feature that is fun to play around with, but in my time with the car, I honestly couldn’t understand how to make use of it on a day-to-day basis.  


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