What to Look For
Sit in the front and back seats to judge the roominess of the vehicle. Check the adjustments on the driver's seat and see how easily the instrument panel can be read. Check out the luggage space.
Ask to see the "sticker price." This is the manufacturer's suggested retail price and seldom includes optional equipment, preparation, transportation fees or taxes. A sticker is put on each vehicle's windshield when it leaves the factory; if the sticker is missing, ask the dealer to show it to you (it should be on file).
Get written quotes on the car and all the options that interest you. Don't be tempted to buy a car that's loaded with pricey options you don't need just because the dealer may have one in stock.
Test-drive the cars that interest you most. See how well they handle and whether you're comfortable at the wheel and the controls. Don't make do with a quick 4-block city test drive--take the car on an expressway or open road so you can judge its overall performance.
Read the owner's manual and warranty agreement thoroughly and ask the dealer to answer any questions you may have.
Don't rush into signing a contract until you've read it thoroughly. If necessary, take the contract home and read it at your convenience to be sure you understand exactly what you're buying, and all the terms and conditions involved.
If financing is offered, compare the figures with those you got from your financial institution.