What Does This Button Do?

CARS.COM — Steering wheels provide this series with great content because they're often overcrowded with buttons. The 2013 Ford Fusion's crowded steering wheel seems to have run out of space and relocated one confusing button to the center console. The button in question displays a steering wheel and the letter "P."

Related: Is Ford Fusion Finished in U.S.?

Don't worry, we believe the P button is sanitary, plus the Fusion doesn't have a clean diesel engine with urea injection. Another more logical and non-bathroom-related guess is a variable power-steering assist system, which on other cars varies the wheel's power-steering assist for comfort or performance; on a button, it's often represented by a steering wheel.

That's not it, either. Instead, the Fusion's P button activates the Active Park Assist automatic parking system. Active Park Assist makes parallel parking a breeze in the Fusion using ultrasonic sensors that identify a suitable parking space and then steering the Fusion to the space without intervention from human hands. You still have to press down on the accelerator and brake while the system does the more difficult job of automatically navigating into a parking space without ripping off the car's bumpers.

When using Active Park Assist, parallel parking in a small parking spot easier than ever before. When engaged, the Active Park feature first helps you identify a suitable parking spot with enough space. When you've chosen your parking space and shift into reverse, take your hands off the wheel and let the car steer itself. While the system takes care of automatic steering, you still need to control the brakes and the accelerator. Self-parking cars like the Ford Fusion make it significantly safer and easier to parallel park. 

Active Park Assist works extraordinarily well. The sensors pick an appropriately sized space and navigate the Fusion with precision while giving you plenty of notice if the car steers too close to an insurance claim — like someone else's front bumper. Competency and speed in using the system comes with frequency, but even for new users, it makes the parking maneuver much easier. It's an expensive option, however, at $895.

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