Best way to quickly test drive cars for research purposes?

I’m planning on working with a broker here but I would like to test drive about 4-6 different cars first. Any recommendations on how to test drive without having to talk to dealers extensively? I don’t want to waste their time or mine.

Any advice on your favorite subcompact suv, ev, or hybrid I should look at is welcome too- I’m having decision paralysis but am limited to a 35k budget max

I’m always straight up with them. Just say I’m here to test drive because I’m comparing cars. After the test drive I politely thank them and leave.


I usually try to go in mid-day on a weekday if I can as well.


Carmax should have a decent selection.


I suggest a big auto center and just go through the paces. Some places do test drives with no salesman, so it can be easier to research.

My favorite Subcompact is the CX-30, but with a 35k budget, I would jump to a CX5 at 29k. Hybrids are a bit hard in this price range, but you can get a Kona or sportage hybrid.


I always say I’m going up and down route (insert road here) test driving multiple cars, lease is up in a few months and want to keep current car till it’s up. I don’t want number or anything yet, I want to figure out what we like and then figure out numbers later. Generally they will give you the keys and take contact info. Never had an issue or gotten stuck there with this approach.


I usually ask how long it will take for the test drive, which they lowball the amount of time and do it on my “lunch break” from work. That way I can get in and out without stalling (sorry I’ve got to run!). And usually they’ll have the car ready to go if you send your license ahead of time.


You: “I am here for a test drive on your ____”

Sales: “Sure, just need you to fill out this Credit App, give me your DL and I will need your email/cell phone number as well.”

You: “I just want a test drive though and am not looking to buy.”

Sales: “Oh, in that case then just fill out the Credit App then.”


Please be upfront with the person who is just trying to make a living. Tell them you are going through a broker and just want to do a test drive. Then ask for THEIR info and when the broker gives you a quote send the quote to the salesperson (INCLUDE THE BROKER FEE) and see if they can match/beat it.

This gives you the best price and the salesperson a chance to make a sale.



Agreed. I always give the dealer and sales person who takes the time for my test drive a shot at the business.

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What’s the tax in your locale? We could be talking about a $35k sale price + 0 tax or $32k plus tax to get to $35k OTD.

Any of the NYers here will tell you stay away from Major World in NY for test drives. They took my license and I get spam mail to this day for over 15 years lol

Some dealers due to the pandemic now let you test drive solo, which is simply great.

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I would suggest a one-day Turo rental. In your price range, it should be around $50/day.

This is the way. The dealer will always want you to sit down and talk numbers. Politely say you arent ready to do that because you srill have others cars to test drive. The end.

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Thank you for your help! I leased a cx-3 for three years and loved to drive it- only thing I disliked was the cargo space/trunk was a bit oddly designed. I know they’ve revamped it/remodeled it to the cx-30 and it seems like it would fit most of my needs. I’ve rented the cx-5 before and loved the ride, just not sure if I need all that space. I drove the Saabaru during my teenage years and into my twenties, have a soft spot for smaller hatchback type cars. I’m in Wisconsin, any thoughts about leasing vs buying?

awesome thank you so much for the guidance!

Good point- I’m in WI

Ok so what’s your tax rate?

Brokers here can give you numbers, but what I have seen its better to purchase. I recommend the CX-50 more wagonish, and apr at 2.9 for 3 years which is one of the better rates out there. A select goes for <30K before T&L.

5% I would ideally like to lease because I just bought a house and had to dip into my savings, but I haven’t seen any great lease offers on any of the cars I’m interested in- prius, crosstrek, cx-30, kona, bolt, corolla cross hybrid, possibly forester, hatchback corolla or civic