Test the Tech, Too
A modern vehicle's technology interface can easily be a determining factor in your buying decision. Automakers have varying opinions on the best and safest way to interact with the infotainment screen. Some use control knobs, others use touchscreens, and some have mouse pad-inspired controls. Make sure you are comfortable with the interface and also consider these other items:
- Bluetooth: Pair your phone and test calling and audio streaming.
- Infotainment screen: How easy is it to use? Can you perform basic tasks such as changing the radio station or switching audio sources?
- Smartphone apps: If Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is a deciding factor for you, make sure you test out a model that has it.
- Backup camera: Does it have one? Is the view grainy or clear? Does it have sensors or lines to indicate distance?
- Steering wheel controls: Do you like the layout? Is it intuitive or is it confusing?
- Navigation: How detailed is the map? Are the street names legible? Is it easy to input an address? Does it have traffic data?
After the Drive
At the end of the test drive, the salesperson will probably invite you into the dealership to begin negotiations. If you're not ready to buy, this is where having an appointment for another test drive pays off. But even if you love the car you've driven and have already made a decision, it can be smart to take some time to think about it before beginning the deal-making process. A good night's sleep will give you some perspective. Thank the salesperson, take a business card and leave. If you've followed our advice, you may have other appointments to get to. You will be in a stronger bargaining position if you wind up liking more than one car, so keep an open mind. Plus, you can always talk price over the phone or via text at a later time. This is an easier and less stressful way to negotiate.
If you do a bit of research first, you'll be fully in control of your test drive. And it will likely answer your remaining questions and help you buy the car that's right for you.
Another Kind of Test Drive
In this story, we've focused just on the test-drive process. However, it is also important to qualify any salespeople you might encounter before you commit to doing business with them. For more information on this, see "Test-Drive Your Car Salesperson."