Consumers Are Geeking Out Over These Best Self-Driving Cars of 2023

October 17, 2023

Team ACV




Consumers Are Geeking Out Over These Best Self-Driving Cars of 2023

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A driver presses the touch screen in his self driving car

This content has been reviewed and updated on 10/2/2023.

Car companies in 2023 continued to deliver an impressive array of self-driving vehicles and refresh existing ones. These vehicles use advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and provide welcome relief to drivers. However, they are not fully autonomous yet.  

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defined five levels of autonomous driving. Most cars are level 1, meaning essential driver assistance like cruise control. Level 2 combines ADAS to navigate, center, accelerate, and brake certain situations. Level 3 self-driving technology can gauge traffic situations and react accordingly. 

While there are five levels, only levels 1–3 are available. Level 4 and 5 full self-driving capabilities won’t be on the market for years. However, many SAE level 2 cars are available, and one SAE level 3 is just hitting the market. The self-driving vehicles consumers are geeking out over are levels 2 and 3¹.

A ride in any of the following autonomous cars is sure to win drivers over to the benefits and comfort of self-driving. Let’s explore some of the best autonomous cars with self-driving features for 2023.

8 Self-Driving Cars Customers Love

1. Audi A8

Audi is a known luxury brand, and the A8 upholds this reputation while mixing in top technology, making it one of the best self-driving cars. It is capable of SAE level 3 driving-assistance abilities through its 2023 Traffic Jam Pilot system. In heavy traffic, the A8 can take over, accelerate to keep up with traffic, and help keep the car in the lane. It can even help search for parking spots and calculate the path for successfully parking the vehicle with its Park Pilot system. All of this is possible with an array of sensors and software that allow the Audi to analyze the road and its obstacles².

A used black Audi A8 in a parking lot
Audi A8

2. Infiniti QX50

The QX50 is a good option for consumers that want to dip their toes into driving-assisted features, even if they’re not ready to go fully autonomous. This vehicle is an SAE level 1 vehicle due to its ProPILOT Assist system. Drivers need to get the car moving, but after that, automatic braking, steering, and acceleration, as well as a feature to detect road hazards ahead of the vehicle, are available. If a hazard is detected, the driver will be alerted. ProPILOT Assist can change the vehicle’s speed by determining how far it is from the next vehicle, keeps the vehicle within the lane, and has motion detector features³.

A used silver Infiniti QX50 in a crowded parking lot
Infiniti QX50

3. Mercedes-Benz EQS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mercedes is leading the pack with Drive Pilot, the world’s first approved SAE level 3 driving system⁴. So far, it’s released in Germany on certain roads. Both California and Nevada approved the use of this system in 2023⁵. As a result, Mercedes plans to begin delivering vehicles with this capability in late 2023, as well as make the option available for 2024 models.

The new Drive Pilot ADAS gives drivers an unparalleled self-driving experience. It uses sensors built into the vehicle, including lidar, microphones, and even a moisture sensor. The car indicates it can take over by lighting up two blue buttons on the steering wheel. The driver can then push the buttons and sit back as the ADAS takes over. Like other vehicles on this list, the driver must remain responsive and ready to drive if the car is needed, but these features can help ease the burden. Drive Pilot is also capable of automated parking, which parks the vehicle for the driver.

This feature is available on the EQS and S-Class models. Mercedes overall top-end sales have increased 18% between Q1 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023, meaning these self-driving features likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon⁶.

A black used Mercedes-Benz S-Class in a parking lot
Mercedes-Benz S-Class

4. Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E

Ford's new BlueCruise technology allows for hands-off driving in limited areas, making it an SAE level 2 system⁷. Ford has designated Hands-Free Blue Zones, which are pre-mapped highways, where it can drive. The car can accelerate, steer, and brake on its own when on one of these highways. While the driver doesn’t need to keep their hands on the wheel, they do need to stay alert. Blue Cruise monitors the driver’s eyes to ensure they’re engaged. If it senses a distracted driver, it warns them.

The vehicles also have Active Park Assist 2.0, which can self-park. This system can navigate parallel or perpendicular spaces and pull out of them. It even features an auto-braking design to help avoid collisions.

This feature is available on the Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150 Truck models. 

Between Q1 of 2022 and 2023, Ford F-Series sales are up over 20%. Meanwhile, Mach-E Sales have declined roughly the same amount⁸. 2023 F-150’s boasted new packages including the Rattler off-road package, and Raptor R package for better performance⁹. The Rattler is particularly popular, adding off-road elements balanced with lower cost. It includes a dual exhaust, 18-inch wheels, and rattlesnake themed graphics. The F-150 includes a larger driveshaft, better front spring, and supercharged engine10.

Mustang Mach-E
Mustang Mach-E

5. Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y

When it comes to cars with autopilot systems, Tesla's can’t be overlooked. Rather than mapping certain roads, Tesla uses cameras, radar, and ultrasonic to scan the areas as the car goes through them. This means drivers can use the feature practically anywhere11. The auto-learning computer is continually updating over the air, meaning Autopilot gets smarter the more people drive with it. Elon Musk’s company Tesla is also constantly rolling out updates to its system.

While it’s technically an SAE level 2 system, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving package provides a unique driving experience. Smart Summon lets the car navigate parking lots and complex situations. Autopilot can navigate city streets comfortably and respond to traffic lights. It can also perform automatic lane changes and navigate when in Autopilot mode. However, the driver still must keep their hands on the wheel and turn it or spin a dial every few seconds to prove they're paying attention.

This feature is available on all of Tesla’s vehicle models. 

Tesla’s popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In the first 3 quarters of 2023, total cars sold had already surpassed the total sold in 202312. The company has been making moves as well, coming out with their most affordable vehicle yet, which is the Model Y RWG. Between its comparatively low price tag, combined with the US Federal EV Tax Credit, it’s a solid choice for a high-tech vehicle under $40,000. Looking ahead, Tesla is planning to begin mass production of their innovative Cybertruck in 2024 for those looking for self-driving capabilities in a larger, more rugged form factor13.

A used blue Tesla Y in a dealer parking lot
Tesla Y

6. BMW X7

BMW’s Driving Assistance Professional Package offers another suite of self-driving options14. It includes Frontal Collision Warning, City Collision Mitigation, and the new Extended Traffic Jam Assistant. Both collision warning functions alert drivers to potential collisions, like a car in front of them that slams on the brakes. If the driver doesn’t immediately respond, the system will use its automatic emergency braking to self-brake and avoid a collision. 

The new Extended Traffic Jam Assistant is another strong SAE level 2 system. It self-drives in certain situations. Traffic Jam Assist is designed for steering through stop-and-go traffic. However, it’s only allowed for highway driving. 

This feature is only available on the BMW X7. Its 2023 model is comparable to the 2022 in terms of specs. However, its design differences make sure it stands out from its predecessor. Its unique separate headlight configuration and smooth interior set it apart. Internal changes include a toggle instead of a stick shift, curved display, and light bar. All these accents give it a rounded, sleek feel15.

A used BMW X7 in a parking lot

7. Volkswagen ID.4

Volkwagen’s Travel Assist provides powerful self-driving capabilities. Travel Assist combines adaptive cruise control and lane assist to drive independently. Unlike its counterparts, it’s not limited to specific, pre-mapped roads. Instead, it uses sensors and cameras to learn the streets as it drives. This SAE level 2 self-driving system requires drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel16

This feature is currently available on the ID.4 and other Volkswagen vehicles. Sales-wise, the Volkswagen ID.4 is a challenging one17. On one hand, their sales quadrupled between the first and second quarter of 2023, but sales are also lower than they have been in previous years. The 2023 models come with 3 years of free charging and an optional 275-mile range battery, making it a potential big bang for the buck option for consumers18.

A used Volkswagen ID.4 in a dealer parking lot
Volkswagen ID.4

8. Nissan Ariya 

Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist has been around for a few years but is still one of the best in its class. And if the name sounds familiar, it’s because Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury division.

 ProPILOT is a solid SAE level 2 driver assistance system that combines adaptive cruise control and lane assist to maintain a following, come to a complete stop, and start again in traffic19. It also automatically reduces speed when it senses upcoming curves, like exit ramps. 

The new Nissan Ariya is the first Nissan vehicle to implement its ProPILOT Park system, which gives the driver visual and audio cues as they park. Nissan uses cameras and sonar to detect obstacles and cars. 

The ProPILOT Assist is available on a handful of Nissan vehicles, while the ProPILOT Park system is only available on the Ariya. The Ariya is doing well in the Nissan family in 2023 and outsold the Nissan Leaf in Q3 of 2023 for the first time. This could spell a bright future for the model20.

A white Nissan Ariya parking in a dealer parking lot
Nissan Ariya

Source Self-Driving Vehicles for Your Dealership

The used car market is shifting towards self-driving vehicles. As shown here, self-driving features can vary in complexity, and finding the best autonomous cars for a particular use case can be a challenge . It may be helpful to perform market research to identify your key customers and learn what features garner the most attention. If they’re looking for self-driving vehicles, then we can help!

Your dealership can buy self-driving auction cars online. ACV Auto Auctions has a wide variety of wholesale autonomous vehicles and will only get more as the market grows. While mostly SAE level 1, we may have a few SAE level 2 models and even an SAE level 3. 

Register now to start looking for and building your autonomous vehicle inventory.

We look forward to working with you at ACV Auctions!



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