You've looked at the specs, you've read the reviews, you've crunched the numbers, and you've admired it from every possible angle: this is the new car for you. However, one thing you should never skip is the test drive, even if the car you're looking at is simply the newest model of your current one.

An underwhelming ride, tricky blind spot, or simply a seat that doesn't quite seem right can really take the shine off your new set of wheels, so follow this guide to make sure you take an effective test drive.

Before You Drive

A test drive should really start before you even fire up the engine. Slip inside the car, then take the time to ask yourself whether it feels right. Firstly, make sure you can get in and out comfortably, then turn your attention to the seating. Is there enough leg, hip, shoulder, and headroom? Can you tilt the steering wheel for a better fit? Is the seat properly supporting you?

Next, check the visibility. This is important in any case since you'll be taking the car out on the road, but it's also important to make sure that no potential blind spots will interfere with your enjoyment of the vehicle, so check the rearview mirror and the side mirrors. Finally, ensure that the pedal position feels natural; if not, make sure you can adjust them.

When You're Choosing Your Route

The route taken isn't something that most people take into consideration. However, it's always nice to test drive a car in the most natural way possible, taking it on roads that you'd normally use during your day to day. So, if you're the sort of person who spends most of their time whizzing around the city, make sure that's where you head for the test drive. Just mention your preference to the sales agent that you're dealing with.

As You Drive

Ah, finally! You can now put the key in the ignition, or hit the start button, and take to the road. Test driving a car is fun, but try to ask yourself these questions instead of getting too carried away:

  • Does the car accelerate effectively and smoothly?
  • Is the noise of the engine at an acceptable level?
  • Does the car downshift quickly and smoothly?
  • Does steering feel responsive?
  • Is the suspension allowing you to drive comfortably?

Additionally, take the time to try out any features that made you interested in the car in the first place. Like the look of that reverse-view camera? Try backing into a tight parking space to make sure it works well.

Most test drives will end up feeling great, but there's always a chance that you'll notice a significant flaw while you're behind the wheel. Either way, it's well worth taking a test drive and ensuring you do it right.