Self-driving cars on sale now: from the cheapest to the most advanced

Look mum, no hands! Cars that can drive themselves in some situations are already on sale, right now

Murray Scullion Dominic Tobin
Oct 13, 2021

Self-driving cars have seemed like the future for years now, and while we’re slowly edging towards a fully autonomous car, there is no model yet on sale that is truly self-driving. You can’t yet snooze or check emails in the back of the car with no-one in the driving seat - partly because it’s not legal to do so.

However, if you can live with driving the car yourself for parts of your journey, there are dozens of models on the market right now that can steer, brake, and accelerate for themselves. Some can even change lanes, while an increasing number of cars can take the stress out of parking by slotting into a space without your input.

You’ll still have to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel - by law - but these driver assistance features can help to make long journeys safer and less stressful.

Even small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo are available with adaptive cruise control, which will automatically reduce speed to maintain a safe distance from any slower car ahead, and then speed back up when it’s out of the way.

Combined with steering assistance, which monitors white lane markings to guide the car through corners, these two systems can effectively drive your car autonomously on motorways and dual carriageways, at high speeds and in stop-start traffic. They can’t cope with every situation, though, so drivers may have to take full control at any moment. They also require frequent input from the driver, so cannot be left alone even on the most textbook of roads.

Buyers of the Audi A8 can enjoy a little more driverless capability where legal. Audi’s technological flagship has been designed with the most advanced driver assistance system yet - called Traffic Jam Pilot, Audi says that its high tech sensors and software are able to drive autonomously at speeds of up to 37mph and that the driver doesn’t need to concentrate because the car will give around 10 seconds warning if it needs to hand back control. British law doesn’t yet allow this and Audi says that it is waiting for legislation to change before introducing it here. Other manufacturers are set to follow.

We’ve listed the cars with partial self-driving technology that you can buy, below. Specifications are accurate for vehicles that were on sale in and around 2018-2019. Additional and optional safety equipment may be available, therefore it's important to check the specification of any specific car that you may be interested in. 

Car manufacturers offering partial self-driving technology

Different levels of autonomy

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, a professional engineering association aiming to advance mobility solutions, there are five distinct levels of autonomous cars.

Level 1 autonomous car

This is where one element of driving is taken over by the car, using images and data gathered by sensors and cameras. This includes technology like adaptive cruise control.

Level 2 autonomous car

This level of autonomy has only been available for a few years now. These systems take over more than one aspect of driving, for instance, the steering and braking. Lange changing modes and self-parking systems that don’t need you to use the pedals are included in this.

Level 3 autonomous car

Only the most cutting-edge and expensive models have reached this level so far. The Society of Automotive Engineers refers to these as ‘conditional automation'. Level three cars will drive themselves on certain roads - but the driver needs to be behind the wheel and alert so that if the car asks them to intervene, they will be able to do so. 

Level 4 autonomous car

Don’t expect to find any cars for sale right now with level four capabilities. These cars will take full control for entire journeys and may not need a steering wheel, let alone a driver. However, they will be limited to certain areas, such as well-mapped cities, as they are unlikely to be able to cope with unfamiliar situations, such as unmarked roads or gravel tracks.

Level 5 autonomous car

You might think that level four autonomy sounds like the finished product, but there is one significant difference between four and five. While four fences you in to cities with lots of road markings that the car can read, level five cars will be able to travel cross-country without any help. Consider every set of roadworks, difficult junctions and challenging road layouts you’ve ever come across and you’ll realise the enormity of creating a car that can deal with any possible travel situation.

Audi self-driving car technology

Audi is arguably the furthest along with its driverless car technology, as it is the first of the mainstream manufacturers to offer level three autonomous driving in any of its cars.

Audi A8 

As mentioned above, Audi is the first mainstream car manufacturer to offer level three autonomous driving with this A8. It uses Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot technology, which can control functions of the car up to 37mph. This system doesn’t need the driver to have their hands on the steering wheel. However, current UK legislation means that it is illegal to do this.

Audi A6, A7

Audi’s A7 and A6 might not be up there with the A8’s self-driving tech, but they’re still brimming with the stuff. Most notably is the Audi AI remote parking pilot. This can autonomously manoeuver the car out of a parking space/garage via the driver’s phone app. This is on top of systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

Audi Q2, Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8, A3, A4, A5

The rest of the Audi range (except for the A1) uses a system called Traffic Jam Assist. This system includes adaptive cruise control and can (on clearly defined carriageways) take charge of steering duties below 40mph.

BMW self-driving car technology

BMW 7 Series 

BMW’s flagship 7 Series has a sophisticated adaptive cruise control system that can hold its position in a lane, brake, and accelerate with traffic between 0 and 130mph. The driver does need to have his or her hands on the wheel, however. It can also park itself, while the driver is actually outside of the vehicle, via the key.

BMW 6 Series, 5 Series 

These BMWs have similarly complex adaptive cruise control, and the same remote control parking feature as the 7 Series above.

BMW 4 Series, 3 Series, 2 Series, X1, X3, X5 

While adaptive cruise remains, the innovative remote control parking feature is lacking from these BMWs.

Citroen self-driving car technology

Citroen has a fairly modest reach in terms of autonomous vehicles right now, but it has big plans for the future.

Citroen C3, C3 Aircross, C4 Picasso, Space Tourer

These are the first cars in Citroen’s range to have any level of autonomous driving. They include an adaptive cruise control system that will stop the car completely as well as a lane keep assist system.

DS self-driving car technology

DS 7 Crossback

Top-spec DS 7 Crossbacks come with a ‘Connected Pilot’ system which combines adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

Fiat self-driving car technology

Fiat has been making strides in the autonomous game since partnering with autonomous expert Waymo (nee Google’s self-driving car project). The latest deal between the companies will see 100 Chrysler Pacifica (part of the wider Stellantis group that owns Fiat and a number of other companies) cars uniquely built as autonomous vehicles.

Fiat Tipo, 500X

Despite the Fiat Group’s wider interest in autonomous vehicles, its range of current cars is limited to the Fiat Tipo and 500X. Both of which have adaptive cruise control features.

Ford self-driving car technology

Ford has previously trialled autonomous Mondeos, and is aiming to master level 4 autonomous cars soon.

Ford Focus, Mondeo, Fiesta, Mustang

Ford’s newer cars feature an adaptive cruise control system that will stop the car, and get it going again, as well as lane-centring technologies that help to keep the car on the straight and narrow. It also has active park assist, that will park the Focus completely with no need to use the steering wheel or pedals. It will also help when exiting a parking space.

Honda self-driving car technology

Honda Accord, Civic, CR-V, HR-V, Jazz, NSX

All of the above Hondas use a system referred to as Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, although you may see it abbreviated to (i-ACC). This system uses a camera and radar to “see”, and react, to other vehicles cutting in front of you.

Hyundai self-driving car technology

Not satisfied with ‘just’ an autonomous car, Hyundai is currently working on an autonomous car that’s powered by hydrogen, which is set to be released in the next few years.

Hyundai Ioniq, i30, Santa Fe, Kona, Tucson

These tech-heavy Hyundais have one of the easiest to use adaptive cruise controls on the market. It works in parallel with lane keep assist, to maintain distance to the car in front. It works from 6mph.

Jaguar self-driving car technology

Jaguar I-Pace

The I-Pace is an all-singing all-dancing electric SUV-Coupe from Jaguar. It has Jaguar’s most advanced autonomous systems that will stop the car and get it going again.

Jaguar E-Pace, F-Pace

The E-Pace is the smallest SUV in Jaguar’s range, but it doesn’t stop it from having adaptive cruise control, with queue assist. The bigger F-Pace also gets this system, which will stop the car in traffic, and will follow the car in front once the driver presses on the accelerator.

Kia self-driving car technology

Kia Sorento, Niro, Optima 

Kia’s Sorento has the latest self-driving tech that Kia offers. Its Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) includes lane-keeping assist, and headlights that follow the car around a corner.

Land Rover self-driving car technology

Land Rover is carving itself a niche in the autonomous market and is currently developing autonomous vehicles capable of driving off the beaten track in any weather conditions.

Land Rover Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar

Range Rovers can come with a Driver Assist Pack that contains the most comprehensive autonomous tech that Land Rover offers. This includes adaptive cruise control and steering assist, both of which are aided by 360-degree cameras. It also has queue assist, which helps the driver in traffic.

Lexus self-driving car technology

Lexus LS 

Lexus is renowned for its tech-heavy philosophy, and this is none more so prevalent in its flagship LS. This model has Lexus’ most advanced safety systems, which will help prevent an accident from happening. It also uses an adaptive cruise control combined with a lane-keeping assist that will steer the car by itself.

Lexus RX, RC, GS, NX

While the technology in these Lexus’ isn’t quite up there with the LS, they do offer a form of adaptive cruise control.

Mazda self-driving car technology

Mazda CX-5, CX-3, 2, 6

These Mazdas incorporate a system Mazda calls Active Safety Technology, which includes active cruise control, lane keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.

Mercedes self-driving car technology

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes A-Class, C-Class, E-Class, CLS, S-Class

Mercedes offers its driving assistance plus package on these cars. This includes active lane keeping, evasive steering assist, and will bring the car to a complete stop. It also includes active lane change assist, which will autonomously change lanes for you on a dual carriageway or motorway. when you indicate. Some models use sat-nav data to slow down automatically before curves.

Nissan self-driving car technology

Nissan Leaf

The electric Nissan Leaf is Nissan’s most technologically advanced car. It has the company’s ProPilot system, including adaptive cruise control that can steer you around a corner on a motorway, as well as autonomous parking that involves no effort from the driver (apart from picking the spot and pressing a button).

Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai also comes with Nissan’s ProPilot, and also has a traffic jam assist that can keep you moving in stop-start traffic.

Peugeot self-driving car technology

Peugeot 208, 308, 2008, Traveller, 3008

All of these Peugeots have an adaptive cruise control system that will stop the car completely as well as lane keep assist.

Porsche self-driving car technology

Although Porsche aims itself at people who love driving, even its boss admits that autonomous cars can be useful in traffic jams, and for parking. This is why Porsche is cooking up autonomous cars.

Porsche Panamera, Cayenne

Porsche InnoDrive system uses radar sensors and the lane departure assistant in combination with highly precise 3D route data from the navigational system to maintain a safe speed and keep the car in its lane.

Renault self-driving car technology

Renault Megane, Scenic

Renault’s adaptive cruise control can be set from 31 mph to 93 mph while keeping a safe following distance from the vehicle in front in the same lane.

Seat self-driving car technology

Seat Ateca, Leon, Ibiza

Seat’s adaptive cruise control is similar to Volkswagen and Skodas. It uses a front radar system that reacts to the driver’s inputs, via a control lever on the steering column.

Skoda self-driving car technology

Skoda Octavia, Karoq, Superb, Kodiaq

Skoda has adaptive cruise control on much of its range, and Traffic Jam Assist is available on some models as well, so the car can accelerate, brake and steer itself at low speeds in tailbacks.

Subaru self-driving car technology

Subaru Outback, Impreza, WRX, XV

While Subaru isn’t a best seller, its EyeSight system is one of the best around. It allows the car to automatically steer itself back into its lane, has adaptive cruise control, and AEB too. These systems allow the car to change its speed depending on what’s going on in front of it by using two cameras to ‘see’ what's ahead. It gently lowers the speed approaching a slower car too.

Suzuki self-driving car technology

Suzuki Swift, Vitara

Suzuki doesn’t shift a huge number of cars in the UK, but it does have adaptive cruise, and Radar Brake Control, which works in a similar way to an AEB system.

Tesla self-driving car technology

Tesla has been at the forefront of self-driving tech since launching its Autopilot system in 2014. Now in its second generation, now called Enhanced Autopilot, Tesla even markets its Model S as the ‘safest car on the road’.

Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3

Tesla’s controversial self-driving systems use a radar cruise control system that can steer the car on motorways, as well as change lanes on motorways when instructed to. It also has an emergency steering system that will take evasive action if necessary, and a self-parking system. Make sure you take Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving Package’ with quite a pinch of salt.

Toyota self-driving car technology

Toyota Prius, Land Cruiser, RAV4

Toyota’s Autonomous tech is part of its Toyota Safety Sense set of technologies. This incorporates adaptive cruise control and pre-collision warning systems that can stamp on the brakes for you.

Vauxhall self-driving car technology

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, Astra, Grandland, Mokka

Another brand in the Stellantis empire, Vauxhall is just beginning to incorporate the company’s autonomous tech in its cars.

Volkswagen self-driving car technology

Volkswagen Golf front view

In many ways, Volkswagen was the leader of the autonomous car when Herbie, the sentient VW Beetle, brought laughter to cinema screens in 1963. However, the car giant believes it will have level four or five vehicles on the market soon.

Volkswagen Polo, Golf, Arteon, Touareg

Volkswagen has a radar-controlled Front Assist traffic monitoring system teamed with an adaptive cruise control system, which can detect traffic slowing ahead and automatically reduces the speed to match the cars in front. It also has a system that primes the brakes if it senses a collision. Its newer models feature Travel Assist, which combines lane-keeping assist and the cruise control to keep you cruising in your lane.

Volvo self-driving car technology

Volvo XC40 front three quarters view

Volvo XC40, XC60, XC90, S90, V90, V60

Volvo has been developing autonomous systems since before 2007. Its most up-to-date systems use pilot assist with auto braking. This combines lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control, with a system that automatically brakes the car if you turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle.



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