Drive to Decide: Extend Your Test Drive Before Buying a Car
A test drive is always a good idea before buying a car, which is why renting the same make and model you're
considering can help make your decision even easier. That way, you can take an extended test drive and
experience what life in this car would really be like. But just what should you look for in an extended test
drive like this? Acceleration, comfort, turning and stopping, of course – but there's more to an extended
test drive than the basics. Take a look at these five things to consider before buying a car:
- How it handles your daily commute. Do you live or regularly drive on rocky roads, steep inclines,
non-asphalt surfaces? If so, how does the car respond? Do you feel safe?
- Whether it can meet your family's ever-changing needs. From work and grocery shopping to soccer
practice, mountain biking and trips to the hardware store – does the car have the flexibility you need for
your family's everyday activities? Do the seats fold down easily? Can you remove any (if so, is that a
simple process)? Is there enough room for your family and your gear without crowding anyone? From the
driver's seat, can you safely and reasonably reach the things you need?
- How it responds to a variety of conditions. Ideally, you'd be able to test drive your car in a variety
of weather conditions, but that's not typically possible. Instead, evaluate how it responds to the current
conditions – and take it both on the open road and in stop-and-go traffic. If possible head into the
mountains and/or take a road trip of several hours to experience first-hand how comfortable the car is on
long trips, whether it overheats in traffic and how it responds on hilly stretches of highway.
- What the kids think. Even though you're the one who will be driving the vehicle, they'll have to ride in
it, so check in with the kids and find out whether they're comfortable and have access to everything they
need while buckled in their seats.
- What feature or upgrades you need in order to make it one you'll love. If the rental car is fully
loaded, but the model you're considering isn't – decide whether there's an upgrade that has made all the
difference. Conversely, you may find out that a fully loaded vehicle isn't right for you – and that while
the "bells and whistles" are nice, you won't use them or they just aren't worth the extra expense.