Get the most from a test-drive

Evaluate the power

Automakers are switching to smaller, more efficient engines for better fuel economy. Someone who hasn’t shopped for a new car in a while might not be sold on a four-cylinder engine, but small doesn’t mean wimpy. In fact, while you do want a car with enough power to feel safe, most people don’t need a ton of horsepower for commuting and everyday driving. When it’s time to drive, don’t just gun it off the lot. Take the vehicle on a variety of roads and test at a variety of speeds. You can do the stereotypical 0-to-60 mph run, but also try 25-to-50. Does the car comfortably merge and pass? When you give it some gas, does the engine respond right away, or does it hesitate? Does the acceleration feel smooth? How does it feel when the gears shift? Does it feel comfortable or rough? If possible, take the car up a hill or other steep grade like a parking ramp. Does it strain, or does it feel like it has enough oomph?