Internet, your first source!
Once you have chosen the type of vehicle that best suits your budget and needs, deciding on a brand and model can be done through online shopping. A few clicks will give you a plethora of valuable information: price, freight and delivery charges, taxes, financing, promotional offers on a lease or purchase, etc.
The buying or leasing experience goes beyond the car itself. It's in your best interest to consider a number of other important aspects, particularly the dealer's reputation, the quality of customer service, the proximity from your home or workplace, the cleanliness and quality of the facilities, etc. All these elements can influence your decision and help you choose one dealer over another.
Word of mouth is often an excellent means of collecting information. Talk to your colleagues, friends and family members who have once done business with the dealerships that interest you. Ask them why they chose a particular dealership and if they would buy again from the same place.
The road test
You have narrowed down your choice to one or two particular models? Contact a sales representative at the desired dealership(s) and schedule an appointment to test-drive the vehicle(s) you covet.
Ask the representative if the exact model you're looking for is available (in stock). Trying out a richer-looking, more generously equipped model could sway your judgement and lead you to purchase or lease a more expensive vehicle than what your budget allows you.
Before taking the wheel, make sure that the representative gave you a comprehensive description of the vehicle. A 30-minute road test will allow you to make a fair assessment. Try to drive as much in the city as on the highway. Throughout the road test, pay special attention to all the elements that affect the driving experience so as to make the best evaluation possible.
Any road test you perform should give you all the remaining information you need to make an educated decision. If need be, take notes and compare the various models that interest you.