Once you've narrowed your options down to what's affordable and what is practical for you, the next step is to test drive the vehicles in your list. This is an important step in the car buying process. Coming here to research is a smart move. We recommend four things while test driving.
Listen for road noise, which is the noise of the tires against the road. This gets louder as the car goes faster. Usually it's not a problem but when you're getting rid of a car that is really quiet, you may not be OK with the noise your test vehicle makes. If you're driving in hot weather, you might hear the radiator fan. You will probably hear the A/C blowing into the cabin as well. Usually, these two noises aren't too loud but some drivers take them into account when making a decision.
Turn the radio on or pop a CD into the receiver. Turn it up and listen. Sometimes entry level vehicles don't come with clear-sounding speakers. The fact that lower-priced cars usually let lots of road and wind noise into the cabin makes this problem worse. If you like to listen to music or talk shows, this is something to think about.
Bring the people who will ride in or drive the car most often. Ask everyone to adjust the seats and headrests. For people of average size, there probably won't be any issues. But for taller or shorter folks, sometimes it's obvious that one vehicle is more comfortable than another. Ask your passengers to critique the vehicle from their point of view.
Sometimes sitting in a car for five minutes isn't long enough to really get a feel for it. Ask your sales rep if you can have some extra time or if you can go to a specific location like your office. Try to spends some time on different roads. A highway, a city street, a rough road and a curvy road are all going to help you get a better feel for the vehicle.
Most drivers still turn their head to check the blind spots when changing lanes. Even if you don't (hopefully you use the BGE mirror settings, in that case), you should take a look towards the rear corners of the vehicle to find out how much visibility there is. You should also try parking, which involves a lot of blind areas unless you have 360 degree cameras. Try parallel parking and perpendicular parking. You never know, you might just not like the way it feels in the car you're testing.
Now you're ready for your test drive! Although, there is plenty more you can learn about car buying in our blog.
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