Does Kia Have a Self-Driving Car?

Kia doesn’t have a self-driving car at the moment but will advance from its Level 2 Drive Wise system to Level 3 AutoMode over the next few years.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Feb 02, 2023
Kia’s Drive Wise system, which comes standard across the 2021 and 2022 model lineup, is a Level 2 autonomous system that can automate certain driving tasks like lane-centering, braking, and switching on and off high beams. 
Since self-driving vehicles have been the talk of the auto industry for quite some time now, with manufacturers like Tesla presumptively leading the pack, it might seem like fully autonomous vehicles can’t be too far off. But how far along is this technology in reality? And what are the underdogs of the self-driving car world up to?
While Kia may not be one of the big names in auto manufacturing—let alone self-driving car technology—the company has made a declarative commitment to make autonomous driving features accessible to all of its customers.
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Does Kia have a self-driving car?

Kia does not have a self-driving car commercially available as of yet—but it is getting closer.
Kia announced its Level 3 autonomous technology,
, will be released in 2023 on the EV9—Kia’s all-new and all-electric SUV, which is intended to rival
Tesla’s Model X
. While plans for the technology are still unclear, we know that it will include highway driving features capable of functioning without driver intervention.
While we await more details on its impending technology, Kia currently offers Drive Wise as their version of an
advanced driving assistance system
(ADAS). As you may have already guessed, as a Level 2 autonomous system, it can’t drive autonomously but instead enhances driver efficiency, convenience, and safety. 
Each Kia model has an available subset of Drive Wise features. Key components include: 
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW): Uses front-mounted radar to detect a potential collision with the car in front and warns the driver. Also can automatically brake if the system detects a potential obstruction in the vehicle’s path (such as a pedestrian or cyclist).
  • Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert: Warns the driver of objects not in the field of view using radar-based detection and can assist with braking.
  • Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist: Alerts drivers who are veering out of their lane and can override steering in extreme situations.
  • Highway Driving Assist (HDA): Adjusts to available speed limit information and can adjust cruising speed to match the vehicle ahead. 
  • Driver Attention Warning: Alerts the driver if it senses inattention.
  • Junction Turning Accident Avoidance: Detects other vehicles that are turning into intersections to prevent accidents.
  • Smart Parking Assistance: Uses ultrasonic sensors to recognize space and controls the steering wheel to help park the car.
Kia emphasizes that Drive Wise is not a replacement for a human operator. Rather than white-knuckle your way through congested traffic on your own, Drive Wise uses predictive technology and preventative measures to assist the driver, ensuring a safer and more pleasant driving journey. 
Key Takeaway Drive Wise is Kia’s Level 2 autonomous driving technology, providing a suite of features that help drivers navigate the roads safely and efficiently. 

How do self-driving cars work? 

Sci-fi’s futuristic vision of passengers essentially joyriding in self-driving vehicles is a misleading (albeit cool and exciting) take on self-driving technology. Simply put, today’s vehicles with self-driving features are not the fully autonomous machines of our dreams
In reality, there’s much more to self-driving cars than zippy speeds and efficient machinery—they are, in fact, quite complex. Autonomous vehicles utilize a range of sensory technologies like cameras, radar, LiDAR, ultrasound, radio, and more. 
But these data collectors are effectively worthless without the processing power of sophisticated software. Deep learning algorithms are required to interpret the sensor-captured data and make steering, braking, and acceleration decisions without human intervention. 
Efficient self-driving technology also requires a level of connectivity, granting cars continuous access to the latest information. Kia Connect’s telematics technology accesses a larger informational network to make better decisions based on traffic, weather, construction, and other road conditional data, with the ultimate goal of reducing accidents.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) outlines six levels of driving automation: 
  • Level 0: No automation. The human driver is fully in control of driving at all times.
  • Level 1:Driver assistance. Driver assistance technology handles one driving task (steering, braking, or acceleration) at a time, while the human controls all other driving tasks.
  • Level 2: Partial automation. Two or more automated functions can operate at once to support the driver, but the driver must stay fully engaged. (Kia’s Drive Wise is a Level 2 autonomous driving system.)
  • Level 3: Conditional automation. The car can drive autonomously under certain conditions, but the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at any moment. 
  • Level 4: High automation. The car can drive itself under limited conditions without needing human intervention. 
  • Level 5: Full automation. The car can drive autonomously in all conditions and doesn’t require human intervention.  
Although Level 5 self-driving vehicles are still years away, Kia has big plans to make its Level 3 AutoMode technology available in all of its cars by 2026. But while it’s exciting to see more self-driving features come online, the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
(IIHS) cautions that fully self-driving vehicles won’t necessarily prevent the majority of car accidents. 
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The 10 best Kias with self-driving technology

Kia offers a wide range of self-driving tech features across its model lineup that makes travel more safe, efficient, and convenient.
Drive Wise
recognizes driver fatigue and can help mitigate dangerous situations. Here are some of the key features of this Level 2 technology: 
  • Collision mitigation with automatic warning and braking
  • Lane-keeping assist with automatic steering
  • Smart cruise control with automatic braking and acceleration
  • Highway-driving assist, with the ability to steer, accelerate, and brake without driver intervention
  • Parking assist, which enables the vehicle to park itself with minimal driver input
  • High-beam assist with automatically adapting headlights
Each Kia model offers its own suite of Drive Wise features, so it's tough to say which model is the best. That said, the 2022 Kia Telluride includes the most standard features across all trim levels, with all Drive Wise features coming standard on the SX trim level
Kia’s midsize SUV has also earned the
2022 IIHS Top Safety Pick
when equipped with LED headlights, and it was ranked No. 1 in dependability by
J.D. Power
, among many other awards for safety, affordability, and value.
Including the Telluride, here are the 10 best 2022 Kia models offering a wide array of Drive Wise features across trim levels: 
Vehicle type
Car and Driver rating
Starting price
Subcompact SUV
Midsize sedan
Midsize sedan
Compact electric SUV
Compact electric SUV
Subcompact electric SUV
Rio S
Subcompact hatchback

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