Get the most from a test-drive

Drive the closest thing to what you want to buy

Some dealers use fully loaded cars for test-drives to wow potential customers in an attempt to maximize sales. Or they’ll put you in a car they want to get rid of. Don’t get sucked in. Do your research online ahead of time to virtually build the car that fits your needs and your budget, then ask to drive the closest thing to what you want. That includes the trim level (usually designated with letters like S, SE, LX or SEL), powertrain and interior options. Sometimes the exact configuration you want won’t be available, so at least insist on driving the model with the same engine and transmission. Also ask whether other cars on the lot have examples of the features you’re looking for. The car you drive might not have the stereo system you want, but there may be something else at the dealership that does.