What to Look for During a Test Drive
by Stephanie Hart
We test drive new vehicles 24-7 here at MotorWeek. But before you take our word for it, and before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to test drive that prospective new car or truck yourself. So here’s our Stephanie Hart with some advice on what you should be looking for during your first time behind the wheel.
STEPHANIE HART: These days we’re bombarded with so much information about a vehicle-photos, video and reviews can make a car seem irresistible. But once you take it for a spin you might change your mind. That’s why the test drive is so important.
Especially now, since the test drive as we knew it is gone as a result of COVID-19.
At car dealerships across the country, including Brown's Manassas Kia, prospective buyers are going for test drives solo. That means it’s more important than ever to know what to watch out for during a test drive... since a salesperson will not be in the vehicle to point out important features.
WAIS SAFI: The test drive is a big part, 50% of part of the purchase is a test drive you want to test drive a car and make sure the car actually fits your needs.
STEPHANIE HART: The best way of doing that is by driving it on a variety of different roads, just like you would in daily life.
Carfax recommends driving it more than 10 miles; including taking it on a high speed roadway.
EMILIE VOSS: You want that vehicle to go over 60 miles per hour, you want to see how it handles, you want to make sure the steering wheel returns to center after you turn, you want to make sure if you accelerate quickly on the highway, possibly for passing, does the car handle well? Also listen for the brakes, check for the brakes, you want to use all your senses when you’re doing a test drive.
STEPHANIE HART: While you’re at it, park it in a variety of different parking spots; especially if it’s a larger vehicle and you’re not used to parking an SUV or pickup.
EMILIE VOSS: It’s a big purchase and you’re spending a lot of money so you do want to make sure that you’re confident that you didn’t miss out on something and it does handle the way you expect it.
STEPHANIE HART: Horsepower is a priority for some… but it may take a backseat for others.
Studies show women and millenials have different wants and needs when it comes to the test drive experience.
WAIS SAFI: Safety is number one for every woman coming in and also they’re leaning to more besides safety they’re looking for space for a family they’re looking for space for the gadgets that they have hands free gadgets.
STEPHANIE HART: The latest tech plays a major role for many buyers. Features like automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging, and head up displays.
During your test drive you’ll want to learn everything you can about the vehicle’s infotainment center and make sure to test it out using your cell phone. Make sure you’re comfortable using it and it has everything you need.
It’s also smart to test the vehicle for comfort. Try driving in your heaviest winter apparel. Then, be honest with yourself. Does it meet your expectations?
EMILIE VOSS: Maybe try sitting in the backseat as well and make sure it's comfortable too because you want your loved ones and the people you will have in your vehicle they will be sitting in those other seats make sure that it is what you’re looking for.
STEPHANIE HART: And go the extra mile and try out a vehicle’s cargo space. That's right, put things you would normally use back there and see if everything fits.
EMILIE VOSS: Are you going to be transporting large items? Or do you have a dog? Are there different things… Do you have a stroller you have to fit in the back? so those are things you want to take into consideration.
STEPHANIE HART: In today’s uncertain world, car buyers are very different from buyers than a year ago.
WAIS SAFI: Today’s buyer is more time efficient. People want to come in and spend the least amount of time in a dealership.
STEPHANIE HART: Understandably so, with COVID 19 still circulating. However, a car is a major purchase. So take your time on a test drive. Spend about a half hour to forty five minutes sizing up the vehicle. Also, never test drive in the rain. Cars often feel smoother on wet roads. And ideally, schedule a few test drives back to back so you can compare different vehicles while everything is still fresh in your mind.