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2020 Hyundai Sonata. Photo: Courtesy of Hyundai

This week I'm driving the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, a car that purports to park itself.

Reality check: The heavily advertised "Smaht Pahk" feature has limited capability. Sure, it can pull itself head-on into a tight parking space and back out too, but that's about it.

How it works: A driver outside the vehicle uses the key fob to lock the car, hit the remote start button (although the car is already running), then hit a third button to drive forward into the parking space.

  • To pull out, it's basically the same process.
  • The driver must first align the car with the parking space; it doesn't position itself.
  • It backs out straight, too, which means users are likely blocking other cars until they get in and drive away.

For the record: Tesla's Summon self-parking feature allows users to push a button and the car will back itself out of the space and come to the driver.

My thought bubble: Hyundai's Remote Smart Parking Assist technology would be useful in an urban parking garage or at my neighborhood Kroger, where the spaces are especially tight and it's easy to get blocked in — but I don't think I'd pay a lot extra for it.

  • Luckily, the Sonata is packed with technology for a value price.
  • The entry-level SE starts at $23,400 and includes standard driver-assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and emergency-stopping assist.
  • The premium Sonata Limited, which includes the parking assist technology, costs $33,300 and also lets you use your smartphone as a digital key to unlock, start and drive the car without a physical key.

The bottom line: The sensors that enable Hyundai's driver-assistance features are already on the car. Why not put them to work as parking valets too?

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.