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12 Steps to Getting the Best Deal on a New Car

Step 9: Take a test drive.

(Subaru of America, Inc.)

(Subaru of America, Inc.)

According to a recent survey, 16 percent of car buyers skipped taking a test drive altogether, with 33 percent taking only a single model out once for a brief spin before signing the paperwork. For our part, we can’t help but find the idea of spending an average of $32,000 on a vehicle in which someone might spend as much as three or more hours a day without fully putting it through its paces (or testing another model for comparison) to be foolish. Visit a dealership with the sole purpose of taking a particular model you’re considering for a test drive. If you know someone who owns one and will let you take the wheel, or can rent a version for an extended test, so much the better. Pay attention to as many details as possible before turning the key, including ease of entry and exit, seat comfort, leg- and headroom, outward visibility and how easy or complex dashboard controls are operated. Negotiate around-town traffic to see how it behaves at slower speeds and under stop-and-go conditions, as well as how smoothly it rides over bumps and potholes. Take the vehicle on the highway to test on-ramp acceleration and passing speed, and be sure to try out handling and braking abilities to your satisfaction. Parallel-park the car and note how light or heavy the car’s low-speed steering feels and how wide or tight the turning radius seems. These steps are necessary to ensure the car is right for you.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]