How to Test Drive a Car

I am the mother of a soon to be licensed teen driver. This terrifies me more than you can know.  No longer can I keep him safe by buckling him into a car seat built like Mt. Rushmore and drive under the speed limit at off peak times, making sure my every move keeps him in a cocoon.  Instead, our conversation runs something like this:

Child: “Mom can I go to Subway with John?”  Me: “Who is driving?”  Child:  “John” Me:  “How many months has he had his license?  Does his mother know you are going to be a passenger right now?  Is he allowed to have passengers?  Who else will be in the car?  How many miles is it there and back?  What time are you leaving and when will you be home?  Text me when you get there and get back.”  Feel my pain?  This doesn’t even account for all the conversations we have about his own driving, practicing, and talking through scenarios he may face to help him make good decisions.

Like very teen, its all about “When can I get a car?”  And I’m sure that if my son made a Leap List, having his own car would be first in line!  While we have no plans to purchase a vehicle for him, we do plan to take a few test drives to help better educate him about what to look for when driving a car, getting to know its strengths and weaknesses and how to make the best decision for his needs.  Through hard work and saving, the time will come soon enough when that first car finally arrives in our driveway.  And its these tips from the Honda CRV Ride and Drive Event in October 2011 that I will use as the basis of that test drive tutorial.

I had the pleasure of joining Jodi Grundig, Moms Favorite Stuff on the road and here is what we looked for in our test drive.

1.  Navigation System ~ Increasingly becoming a standard on many of today’s most popular cars, there is nothing like the security of a state of the art navigation system to keep you focused on the road instead of looking down for directions.  I loved having the CRV Nav system pre-programmed every step of the way.

2. Transmission Strength ~ Thanks to Eco Assist and Econ Mode, the CRV automatically has 3 mechanical systems that know to override for optimum performance ~ the air, the fuel, and the transmission. This helps you drive the car smarter, maximizing fuel and systems efficiency seamlessly while you focus on the road. What was most noticeable was when we travelled up and down the hills, there was not a noticeable adjustment shifting between gears. This is a good thing and something I would expect in every new car in any class.

3. Smooth Handling ~ Whether its a drive through a rock slide area or simply having to respond quickly to oncoming or neighboring traffic, the car’s responsiveness needs to be tight. Smooth handling can be the difference that saves your life.

4. Driver and Passenger Comfort ~ Take notice of how the car feels in every location you might be seated. Don’t forget to sit in the back to check visibility and leg room too.

5. Highway Safety and Performance ~ Test the acceleration of the vehicle on the open highway to see how it performs at the posted speed limit. You want to be sure that you are confident it can handle highway safe speeds, passing other vehicles, and simply keeping you safe when you are on the open road.

Raising teenagers to be responsible drivers and careful consumers is more than a full time job.  I love that I had the chance to turn my eyes towards this test drive with teaching our child in mind.  What about you?  Will you be taking a car out for a test drive soon?  What will you look for?

Disclosure:  Special thanks to American Honda Corporation for inviting me to attend the 2011 Honda CRV Ride and Drive event.  My travel and accommodations were provided to enable me to attend.  I was not compensated nor requested to post.  I found it to be a content rich opportunity to introduce the conversation of teen driving here on our site and hope you find it a valuable resource as you walk through these waters.

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