New vehicles are brimming with technology that can enhance convenience, connectivity and driver safety. But the tech can also be unfamiliar to car shoppers, especially those who haven’t purchased a vehicle in the past five years or more. This poses a problem when it comes to the traditional test drive.
During a dealership test drive, you’re usually ushered along to get things done quickly. A typical drive might be 20 minutes or a drive around a few blocks, so the pressure is on. But here is where you can deviate from the normal procedure. Let the salesperson know you need additional time to get familiarized with the car before heading out on the road.
When you first get inside the vehicle you’re interested in, familiarize yourself with your surroundings and controls. You may have to turn on the car to activate all the screens and controls. Where are the audio controls? Where are the climate controls? Can you reach them easily or are they hidden in a menu? Poke around the menu system and play with the various non-driving controls.
Touchscreens: Is it easy to understand the icons or functions? Is it easy to switch between functions such as the audio system and navigation? Are the controls distracting or hard to find when driving? Is the screen responsive to your touch or is there a delay? Do you get any glare from the sun that could be an issue?Touchpads: Are the controls intuitive or would you prefer a touchscreen? How many pads are there? Where are they located? (Some might be on the steering wheel.) Does the touchpad have different areas that you have to touch to interact with different items on the menu screen? Is it quick to react to your touch or is there a lag?
There’s a learning curve with any new piece of technology, but some automakers make it easier than others. A vehicle might not be the right car for you if you find yourself overwhelmed. Remember to take your time to interact with features and technology when parked and on the road during the purchasing phase to see if you’re able to perform different functions easily and repeatedly.