What to Look for On A Test Drive

After you’ve decided which car models interest you most, taking a test drive is one of the most important steps in the process of buying a used car. A test drive is more than just a free couple of minutes in the car of your choice. It’s the perfect time to decide whether or not the car is right for you. While test driving the car, pay attention the following five areas.

Look For: Comfort

The majority of people buying cars will end up spending a lot of time in them. Whether you’ve got a lengthy commute to and from work, or you’re chauffeuring your kids to extracurricular activities, you want a car that meets your comfort requirements. Being uncomfortable in car isn’t just annoying, but dangerous. It can distract you from where your attention is needed most when you’re driving. Make sure you play with the mirrors and seats to ensure that you can adjust them to the correct positions.

Look For: Visibility

The more cars you test drive, the more you’ll realize that some have such terrible visibility that it could become a safety issue. Check the visibility while the car is parked and when you’re driving to determine how big blind spots are and where they’re positioned.

Listen For: Noise

Noise might not be a deciding factor in whether or not you buy a particular car, but it can contribute to your comfort level when you’re driving. A noisy ride can be bothersome and distracting when you should be focusing on the road.

Evaluate For: Vehicle Size

Make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the vehicle you’re test driving. One way to test out how comfortable you are with the size of a car is to try parking it. Test out how it feels to pull into a parking spot, back out of one and how easy it is to parallel park the car. You’ll quickly get a feel for the size of the car and where your comfort level lies.

Get A Feel For: Handling

Take note of how well the car handles as you drive it. How well does it handle turns, curves and different road surfaces? Pay attention to how quickly the car accelerates and how the brakes work, too. The best advice for understanding how the car handles is to test drive it in similar driving conditions that you typically encounter. For example, if you drive on highways daily, you should test drive cars on the highway to understand how the car accelerates.

When it comes time for you to test drive some used cars, make sure you follow these tips. Understanding what to look for when test driving cars can help you make an informed decision when you’re ready to purchase your next vehicle.

The Best Used Car Deals for October, 2013

When looking for the best deal on a used car this October, you need to shop for a car that offers more than just a low price tag. Unless the vehicle offers reliability, exceptional safety, and fuel economy, it is hardly worthy of a closer look.

To help you with your search for a great deal on a used car this October, UsedCars.com is offering you this list of some of the most noteworthy cars gracing our inventory. Each car listed has received high praise from consumers and features a strong track record of dependability. In addition to the cars listed below, we also encourage you to visit our Best Used Car Deals Page, where we offer you access to an extensive inventory of used cars, trucks and SUVs listed below Kelley Blue Book value.

2010 Kia Soul (31mpg/highway) • KBB Price: $11,946*

Affordability without sacrificing fun, funk or flair, this is what Kia set out to accomplish. And this is exactly what the car manufacturer accomplished with the introduction of the Soul. The economically driven car buyer will be happy to note that, in keeping with Kia’s long tradition of creating affordably priced automobiles, the Soul was designed with economy in mind. However, the car’s funky swept-back exterior design, with its interesting angles and vibrant colors, creates a sense of energy, fun and funk that had previously been lacking from the Kia brand. It’s this combination of fun and affordability that make the Soul one of the best deals on the used car market this October.

Here’s what some of the critics have to say about the 2010 Kia Soul

Consumer Reports Test Score: 68/100
JD Power and Associates Predicted Reliability Score: 2.5/5
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Overall Rating: 4/5

2009 BMW X3 (24 mpg/highway) • KBB Price: $28,262*

Searching for a used car this October that will offer high-end sophistication without emptying your bank account? The BMX X3 may be the car you have been looking for. As a compact SUV, the X3 offers the type of versatility that most drivers are looking for. However, with its powerful engine, durable frame and responsive handling, this five-passenger SUV delivers a kind of utility that is rarely found in a luxury vehicle.


Here is what some of the critics have to say about the 2009 BMW X3

Consumer Reports Test Score: 80/100
JD Power and Associates Predicted Reliability Score: 3.5/5
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Overall Rating: 4/5

2009 Subaru Impreza (27 mpg/highway) • KBB Price: $14,936*

Don’t let the lack of brand recognition fool you. A Subaru Impreza is a smart buy this October 2013. With its superior all-wheel-drive performance, the Impreza offers a type of drivability that is rarely found in a compact car. Throw in the compact car’s impressive record of reliability and safety, and it is sure to become a valued asset.

Here’s what some of the critics have had to say about the 2009 Subaru Impreza.

Consumer Reports Test Score: 84/100
JD Power and Associates Predicted Reliability Score: 3.5/5
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Rollover Crash Rating: 3.5/5

2010 Ford Fusion (24 mpg/highway) • KBB Price: $14,416*

Perhaps the best used car deal this October 2013 is the practically designed Ford Fusion. Offering the rare blend of family car features and sports car-like drivability, this expertly engineered family car has been a hit among car buyers who want a mid-size sedan with a little extra.  A spacious interior, responsive driving dynamics and expressive styling features have all attributed to the Fusion’s success within the American market.

Here’s what some of the critics have to say about the 2010 Ford Fusion:

Consumer Reports Test Score: 75/100
JD Power and Associates Predicted Reliability Score: 4/5
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Overall Rating: 4/5

For more deals visit our Best Deals section.

*The KBB price listed here was quoted as of 10/1/2013 – and it is reflective of the suggested retail price of a similar vehicle in excellent condition with 30,000 miles

Your Guide To Used Car Warranty Terminology and Definitions

Evaluating the worth of a warranty on a used car can be difficult. In fact, in many states dealers are not required to offer any type of warranty. So when they do add a warranty, it is mostly just a marketing ploy, offering little in the way of protection or value.

This is why it is always advisable to carefully read the terms of the warranty before you finalize the purchase of the used car. If you feel that the car is not adequately protected, you can attempt to negotiate a warranty plan into the price, or you may want to pay for an extended warranty plan.

What They Mean When We Say Something Is Sold “As-Is”

If a car is sold “As-Is,” this means that it comes without a warranty. While most states allow a car to be sold As-Is, this must be disclosed by the dealer and offered in writing. According to the FTC, there are currently 12 states as well as the District of Columbia that do not allow “as-is” sales on used vehicles. These states include: West Virginia, Maine, Maryland, Kansas Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut.

Implied Warranties Are Just What They Sound Like

If a used car is not listed “As-Is,” but it does not come with any type of written warranty, most states will hold the dealer responsible for an implied warranty. This means that the car must meet certain reasonable quality standards. So, if you buy a car and it stops running a week later, it may be covered under an implied warranty.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Warranties Are The Gold Standard

A certified pre-owned car is a vehicle that is subjected to a comprehensive inspection by a manufacturer certified mechanic. Because these cars are given a thorough inspection, they often come with a pretty extensive warranty plan. While the benefits of the warranty will vary depending on the CPO program, you can rest assured knowing that many of your car’s major parts are covered.

A Service Contract/Extended Warranty Gives Peace Of Mind

Also known as an extended warranty, a service contract is basically a warranty you purchase to add protection. If you are considering a service contract, you will want to ensure that it is not include duplicate coverage on the existing warranty. You will also need to check to see if all the repairs and routine maintenance, such as oil changes, have to be done at the dealer. Sometimes missing manufacturer recommended services or having the services completed by a third party will void the warranty.

Whatever you do, make sure you read the warranty thoroughly before you agree to anything. And remember, if it is not specifically stated in writing, chances are it is not covered.

Hybrid Side-by-Side Comparison

Car makers have reinvented the hybrid. No longer are consumers relegated to the choice of a barely loaded compact car, with little acceleration and no legroom. Instead, new technology complemented by increased consumer demand has resulted in some innovative designs in the hybrid car marketplace.

Below, UsedCars.com is offering a quick glimpse at a few of the more popular and innovative hybrid designs on the market. Whether your primary focus is fuel economy or you need a practical car with a little more cargo space, there is a hybrid out there for you, and we want to help you find it.

Used Compact Hybrids

Toyota Prius

2012 EPA Estimates: 53 City/46 Highway
The Toyota Prius has been a leader in the hybrid revolution since the turn of the century.  And with its long record of reliability and performance, the Prius continues to be a great choice on the used car market.

Honda Civic

2012 EPA Estimates: 44 City/44 Highway
Bearing the respected Honda name, the Civic Hybrid capitalizes on the automaker’s record for reliability and dependability while delivering superior fuel economy.

Mid-Size Hybrids

Ford Fusion Hybrid

2012 EPA Estimates: 47 City/47 Highway
Available with a V6 191 horsepower engine, the Fusion Hybrid delivers where others fall short – the performance category. Smooth and refined, this is a fun-to-drive car that just so happens to offer superior fuel efficiency.

Toyota Camry Hybrid

2012 EPA Estimates: 43 City/39 Highway
If you like the Toyota Camry, then you will love the Toyota Camry Hybrid – which offers many of the same great features, while also helping you save at the pump.

SUV Hybrids

Ford Escape Hybrid

2012 EPA Estimates: 30 City/27 Highway
The Ford Escape Hybrid prides itself in offering the best fuel economy in its class. But don’t think that this SUV skimps on things like cargo room or driving performance. Quicker than its gasoline powered counterpart, the Escape Hybrid offers a host of interior refinement features and plenty of legroom.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2012 EPA Estimates: 28 City/28 Highway
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid offers all-wheel drive, seating for seven and an engine so powerful you won’t believe it’s a hybrid.

Luxury Hybrids

Lexus CT 200

2012 EPA Estimates: 43 City/40 Highway
With better handling than just about every other hybrid in its class and with the kind of luxury you would expect from Lexus, this compact four-door hatchback offers much more than just the appeal of fuel economy.

Infiniti M35h

2012 EPA Estimates: 27 City/32 Highway
A 302-horsepower V6 gasoline engine and a 67-horsepower electric motor combine to offer a thrilling driving experience.

Understanding Alternative Fuels

In the simplest of terms, an alternative fueled vehicle is any vehicle that does not run on gasoline or diesel. Instead, its fuel comes from a non-petroleum based source – like natural gas, corn or another plant-based byproduct. Because most of these resources are renewable and produced domestically, the cited benefits are far ranging: leading to reduced dependency on foreign imports, extended oil supplies and reduced emissions.

This alternative fuels guide examines two of today’s more popular options: E85 Ethanol and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

E85 Ethanol

Ethanol fuel is an alcohol-based fuel composed of fermented and distilled starch crops. (e.g. corn). It’s important to note that this not a new technology.  In fact, about one-third of all gasoline currently sold in the United States contains some amount of ethanol. And most cars are capable of using a mixture that contains as much as 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline.

Advantages of E85 Ethanol: What makes an E85 engine standout is that the mixture is mainly ethanol based, with 85% coming from ethanol and 15% coming from conventional gasoline. This not only reduces the United States’ dependency on foreign oil, it stretches the earth’s current supply of oil (which is not renewable) and results in lower emissions.

Disadvantages of E85 Ethanol: Opponents of ethanol-based fuel point to the fact that ethanol production requires the burning of petroleum based products to plant crops and operate refineries – which of course would seem to offset any environmental benefits. Additionally, vehicles using E85 get worse fuel efficiency when compared to their gasoline counterparts. E85 is also hard to find, with only about 1 percent of all the gas stations in the United States offering E85.

Because ethanol engines are not a new technology, there are a number of cars on the roadways currently capable of running on E85. Known as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV), these cars include:

  • Ford Focus FFV
  • Chevrolet Malibu FFV
  • GMC Terrain E85 Flex Fuel
  • Ford Ranger E85 FFV

Compressed Natural Gas

Another alternative fuel that is slowly beginning to see increased popularity in the mainstream marketplace is Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). But even though automakers like Honda are touting these clean fuel alternatives as the next big thing in the world of green energy, it’s important to note that this is not a new technology. Instead manufacturers have been producing cars capable of running on natural gas as far back as the 1930s.

Search For Your Next Green Car

Our Fuel Economy Search helps you find a car by minimum Air Pollution Score, Greenhouse Gas Score, and Fuel Economy desired.


Advantages of CNG: Low costs and cleaner emissions are two of the primary advantages of CNG. Not only does natural gas cost about a third of gasoline, but it burns much cleaner, resulting in reduced carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Disadvantages of CNG: The major disadvantage of CNG is availability. In truth, natural gas fueling stations are hard to find; and in some areas, CNG is not available at all, even in the form of an at home fueling station.

Even though CNG is not a new technology, it has not been until recently that automakers have begun producing these vehicles for the general public. Examples of today’s modern CNG powered vehicle includes:

  • Honda Civic GX CNG
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500 CNG
  • Dodge Ram 2500 CNG