Deciding between new vehicle options often comes down to how you feel while test driving. Here are Baxter’s top 7 tips for what to look for when test driving your future car, truck or SUV.
1. Take your Time
I think we all get a little nervous when testing out new vehicles. It’s a big decision to make. But, take your time – don’t feel like you have to make a decision quickly. The first time I test drove a car, I was so nervous that I spent less than five minutes behind the wheel. It didn’t give me a very good idea of how the vehicle drove.
Take your time on a test drive. Hop on the interstate or a highway, drive on some main roads and take a detour into a neighborhood. Get a real idea for what it feels like to be behind the wheel of that vehicle.
2. Take the Vehicle Home
Ask your salesperson if you can drive the car home, if you don’t live too far away. This is an especially important step if you’re looking at a bigger truck or SUV. Make sure the vehicle you want actually fits into your garage or parking spot. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on your dream truck or SUV and have to leave it parked on the driveway.
3. Test the Infotaiment System
Almost every brand has a different infotainment system. Plus, the system gets an upgrade or facelift almost every year as well. Make sure you use it and get a real feel for how the system works. Whether you’re looking at a touchscreen or touchpad system (like Lexus’ or Audi’s), or any other option available, take some time to test the system. Play with it while you’re not moving, punch buttons and see how everything responds. Connect your phone and play your music. Get a feel for all of the options available.
Then, do it all again while you’re driving. Some brands will lock certain features while the vehicle is in motion. It’s a great safety feature to cut down on distracted driving. See what features may or may not work while you’re driving. Get to know the system you’ll be using every day.
Plus, if the vehicle has a navigation system, take time to try it. Punch in a destination and see how it works. Check out the Head’s Up Display (HUD), if the vehicle has it, or what voices are available if the vehicles has turn-by-turn navigation. There are many variations, so it’s worth messing around with it.
4. Test Out the Speakers
This follows along the same line as the previous tip: test out the speakers. Bring your phone or go old school and grab a CD. Connect your phone to BlueTooth or plug it in with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. See how everything connects and works. Play whatever kind of music you usually listen to while you’re test driving. Get a real idea for what you’ll be listening to all the time.
5. Get a Walkaround
Ask your salesperson for a full walkaround. Your salesperson will know all the new features and can even give you an idea of what changed from year to year. They’ll also be able to help you figure out how everything works. This may not be part of the actual test driving, but it can be a helpful part.
6. Drive your Normal Route
Drive on the roads that are like the ones you drive on everyday. If you regularly take the interstate, find a place to hop on and speed up for a bit. If you usually drive up a large hill on your commute, find a hill and test it out. Make sure you’re comfortable and enjoy how you feel behind the car and how the engine feels.
7. Sit in the Back Seat
This is a test drive tip I don’t often think about. But, it’s a good idea to take a minute or two and sit in all the seats beside the driver’s seat. See how much space your passengers will have. If you’re looking at a vehicle with a third row, climb back there. Sit in the front passenger seat. Get a real idea for your car, truck or SUV’s possible space – especially once the driver’s seat is in the right position.