More than a joy ride
Regardless of what friends, family or published reviews say about a vehicle, the only way to know if it's the right car for you is to test drive it yourself. Test drives are crucial to making up your mind - both about the car and the facility that's trying to sell it to you. Here's our top ten list of things to do on your test drive:
- Book your appointment - Resist the urge to pop in on your lunch break to take a test drive. It's not enough time to get all the information you need. Instead, call ahead to arrange an appointment (off-peak hours are best). Note: with many dealerships, you can also book your test drive online through the dealer's Web site.
- Get a full vehicle tour - When you arrive have the sales consultant give you a full tour or "walkaround" of the vehicle you want. Once you're satisfied, move on to the test itself.
- Try to test drive the model you're interested in - It's always preferable to test drive the actual model you want. If it's not possible, find out if there are any differences between the model you want and the one you will be driving.
- Take a passenger - They can offer a different perspective of the vehicle (from the backseat) and can act as a second set of ears - remembering anything the sales consultant mentions while you're busy driving.
- Get comfortable - Once inside, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the interior. Are the seats comfortable? Do they adjust easily? On a gut level, do you feel "at home" behind the wheel?
- Consider function - Are the dashboard controls well laid out and accessible? Are gauges easy to read? How well can you see? Play with all the controls. And remember to check the little things too: for example, make sure cupholders are not in the way.
- Special features - Check any features, such as fold-down seats and sun roofs, to make sure they work intuitively for you. Are there any pleasant surprises (e.g. lights which give you added security by staying on for 20 seconds after you close the door)?
- Try different terrains - See how the car handles the different types of roads. In the city, check the car for noise levels; how well it runs in stop-and-go traffic, and how smooth the ride is. On the highway, pay particular attention to how well the car accelerates to highway and passing speeds.
- Test turning and stopping - Put the car through a three-point turn and parallel park. Find an isolated place and try a couple of sharp stops (make sure all your passengers are buckled up and aware of your intentions).
- Take notes - Once you're home, take a moment to write out your evaluation of the car and the dealer.
If you'd like to test drive a GM vehicle, you can use our Schedule a Test Drive tool to find the dealer nearest you.