Get the most from a test-drive

Check out the exterior

Once you’re on the lot, look at the car you’re considering from every angle. Do you really like it? After all, it will be yours for a long time to come. Consider not only whether the car looks good but how practical it will be. Does the color you want show dirt easily? Black and dark colors are notorious for showing every speck. Decide whether you’re willing to invest the time and energy to keep it looking clean, or opt for a lower-maintenance color like silver, beige or white. Fancier, more intricate designs look better but could also be more costly to replace in an accident (large wraparound tail lamps that are integrated into the rear bumper or quarter panel, for example). Do the wheels look like they’d be easy to accidentally scrape when parking? Also look at the tires. Low-profile sport tires, run-flats and low-rolling-resistance tires are all more expensive to replace than traditional all-season tires.