Rent a Car for an Extended Test Drive

man driving a car

A typical consumer spends around 14 hours on their car buying journey, including researching and shopping online, according to a recent report by Cox Automotive. But at the end of the day, how and where you spend your time learning about a vehicle could impact your overall satisfaction with your purchase. One of the best ways to get to know a car is to take it for a test drive.

The average test drive at the dealership gives you only limited information. It takes hours – not just a few minutes – to decide whether the seats are comfortable enough or if the handling leaves something to be desired. Renting a car for an extended test drive, on the other hand, provides plenty of time to learn about all the bells and whistles. And it’s the most fun you’ll have conducting car-buying research.

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Rent Before You Buy

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, consider spending some quality time with your favorite vehicles, perhaps on a road trip or two. One of the most effective ways to do this is by renting. This may cost you some money upfront, but it could save you from buying a car that won’t meet your needs in the long run.

This could be an especially beneficial step if you are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, giving you extra time to learn about things like range and charging.

Even if the specific trim level is different in the rental compared to the car you want to buy, you can still experience how the vehicle handles and performs for different types of driving. Details like color, fabric vs. leather seats and other optional features, don’t matter on a test drive. Focus on what the car delivers in terms of comfort and performance.

If your weekday and weekend driving habits are different, make sure your rental time includes both types of days.

Things to Consider During an Extended Test Drive

On a standard test drive, you only have enough time to decide if the car handles well under limited circumstances. An extended test drive allows you to dive deeper into the car’s features. Create a checklist of things that are important to you and evaluate those features in each car.

Some important things to consider include:

  • Noise: Listen for the level of road noise in the car while driving. Does road noise make it difficult to carry on a conversation with others in the car or to hear the radio? Even at low speeds, is the engine too loud for you?
  • Adjustability: Can you customize settings to make the seats and other features comfortable? Take into consideration the seat angle and height, cup holder and armrest positioning, as well as the fit of the seat belt. A long drive can reveal design features that could move a vehicle to the top or bottom of your list.
  • Safety: Do you feel secure in the car? Does the vehicle feel solid with smooth movement, particularly at cruising speed on the highway? It’s essential that you feel safe in your car. Checking safety ratings is important, but you also need to feel personally secure in the vehicle.
  • Power: The trick is to get enough power to do the job but not so much that you feel out of control or burn fuel needlessly. Does the vehicle make it up steep hills without feeling like it’s struggling? Some drivers are content with 140 horsepower, while others would never consider anything less than 200. If you don’t have a preference, then factor in fuel efficiency, and choose the smallest engine that effectively handles the job.
  • Gadgets: Play with the interface of the entertainment system, assessing the placement and ease of use of the controls for features like cruise control and the stereo.

As you spend more time driving your rental, you’ll develop a better idea of how well the vehicle suits you. This will help you determine whether the car in question is suitable for your lifestyle and driving demands. After all, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a car that struggles to meet your needs.

Rent with Hertz and save with AAA.

Have you ever done an extended test drive by renting a car before buying it? Tell us about it in the comments.

Originally published on


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8 Thoughts on “Rent a Car for an Extended Test Drive

  1. I did this over 20 years ago when my previous car was totaled in an accident (it gave its life to save mine, is the way I looked at it). I did this for several weeks. I highly recommend it.

  2. We rented a Buick Century for 2 weeks when we were on vacation in California many years ago. We liked the car so much that when we were ready to get a new car, The Buick was the car we chose. I rented a Hyundai Sonata a few years ago on a visit to Florida. When I was ready to upgrade the family car a Sonata was my choice. It is a great idea. I love my choices

  3. Hertz has limited car model rentals or rent a similar car. Think this was a promotional idea story for a Hertz rental. The article that would be more helpful is how to arrange a all day rental at the dealership of a model car your interested in purchasing.

  4. Some car dealers rent cars from their lot. That would be a convenient way of renting something close to what you plan on buying.
    Also, some manufacturers offer free extended test drives. Consider asking a dealer if you can try out a car for a weekend.

  5. How do you get a specific car model from Hertz? You can reserve a “car model OR SIMILAR” and I’ve never been offered the car that I booked, only the “or similar”.

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