When buying a new pair of shoes, everyone knows what to look for. From a very young age, we learn the drill. Do you like how they look? Where is your big toe? Does your heal slip? How do they feel when you walk or run across the room? While highly trained in shoe shopping, most of us don’t have the same confidence when we step foot onto the lot of a car dealership. Test driving a new car is the best time for a customer to ensure that it’s a good fit, but what should you be looking for? This quick checklist is a great way to try a new car on for size.

Don’t Come Unprepared

If you arrive at the dealership without a plan, you’ll spend a lot of time deciding which cars to drive. You’ll make more progress toward a purchase if you do your research beforehand. Of course, you should know which models you’d like to try out, but you should also know a little bit about those cars. What are their marquee features? What kind of ratings and reviews have they received? Knowing these things will help you know what to look for while you’re driving.

Size It Up

Once you’re in the car, your first task has nothing to do with driving. To begin with, size up the car’s various features. Is it easy to climb into and out of? How is the legroom and headroom? How comfortable will your backseat passengers feel? While you’re at it, take a count of cup holders and assess other basic interior features. Though easy to miss, these mundane questions can make the biggest difference when it comes to your long-term comfort.

Check the Controls

The dashboard is really your point of contact and communication with a vehicle. Your satisfaction with the layout of a control console is a major factor in determining your overall happiness with a car. In-dash controls should be powerful and capable, but simple and streamlined. While out for a spin, be sure to safely interact with the car’s various systems, including temperature control, entertainment system, cruise control, etc. Do you like the positioning of the speedometer, the clock, and other important instruments?

Vary the Circumstances

Finally, you’ll want to pay attention to the car’s actual performance in various driving scenarios. Don’t settle for a quick spin around the block. Short, surface street drives won’t be enough to give you a true feel for the car’s abilities. Ask the sales representative if you can hop on and off the highway, head up a hill, idle at a stop sign, and otherwise vary your route to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the car’s performance. While driving, pay attention to the smoothness of the ride, the level of road and engine noise, power, acceleration, and other important indicators.

Picking out the right pair of shoes can really improve your ability to get from place to place. But it’s your other form of transportation that you really need to test and evaluate. Knowing what to look for when test driving a new car will help to ensure that you make the right decision and stay comfortable with your fit.


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