I've spent a lot of time on the road and driven everything from a sporty convertible coupe to a 1-ton pickup. These drastically different vehicles have taught me what to look for before committing to a new vehicle. The next time you’re ready to test-drive a new car, ask yourself the following questions.
Does it fit my needs?
If you’re like me, you’ve seen ads for the new GMC HUMMER EV supertruck, and it’s the electric vehicle you’ve always wanted. However, with three young kids, several pets and a mortgage, our budget is more in line with the Chevrolet Traverse. Either way, it’s important to consider factors like budget and lifestyle. Will you be using your vehicle for a daily commute, longer road trips or just around town? Will the vehicle accommodate any pets, children, hobbies or cargo you plan on carrying? Do you need towing capacity, rear- or front-wheel drive, or a turbocharged engine? It may be worth your time to test more than one model or trim style to ensure the best fit.
Is it intuitive?
Whether you’re looking for climate control or windshield wipers, one of the most confusing things about driving someone else’s car is figuring out how to adjust the settings and controls. Not knowing how to complete a simple task can quickly turn into a stressful situation. Everyone gets an owner’s manual with their new car, but how many people really open it? Now is the time to get to know your vehicle and ask your salesperson about all the operating basics. If you’re still not catching on after a demonstration or have doubts about some of the tech, it might not be the car for you.
How does it perform?
One of the most exciting parts of test-driving a car is getting the chance to upgrade from what you currently have. When you get out on the road, take the car through all the paces, including highway driving. Pay attention to how it steers, shifts gears, accelerates and brakes, as well as its turning radius. Think about your commute and the route you’ll most often take in your new car and ask yourself if it’s suitable. Fuel efficiency has never been more important, so don’t forget to ask the salesperson about how the new vehicle performs when it comes to that, too. You may even find that switching to an electric vehicle will offer more opportunities to reduce expenses, including gasoline costs and ongoing maintenance.
Is there visibility?
How well you can see out of a vehicle is paramount to your safety. When you settle in to take your first spin in a new ride, make sure the salesperson takes a moment to show you how to adjust your mirrors and check your blind spots. Take note of any concerns you may have, and ask about safety features that might be available, like lane assist and backup cameras.
Is it easy to park?
Parking starts and ends every journey in your car. Having a vehicle that’s easy to park will save you a lot of future frustration, so take into consideration the parking situation where you work and live. If your apartment has a garage that’s difficult to navigate, you might not want the largest Chevrolet truck on the lot. If parking really stresses you out, many newer GM vehicles include updated technology features to help. Parking assist, my personal favorite, can help take the struggle out of getting in between the lines.
Answering these five questions can take the mystery out of what you should look for in a test drive; however, you may still need to find out how much car you can afford. If you’ve completed your test drive and you’re ready to buy, arrive prepared with our car-buying checklist.
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