While test drives are an important way to narrow down that list of potential new cars, they aren't necessarily the most efficient way because all those competing cars are seldom at the same dealership.

That's where auto shows come in as an an invaluable resource for car shoppers because they really allow you to compare an entire vehicle class under one roof without the pressure of having to sign papers. Let’s check it out.

Headroom and legroom measurements don't necessarily reflect how space works in real life and the only way to do that is to actually sit in the chairs. So get in, get comfortable and adjust those seats and steering column like you were about to drive away.

Now after you’ve adjusted the front seat to your liking, jump in the backseat fast because the amount of legroom your rear passengers get depends on where you’re going to sit. Now when you’re doing this judge how easy it is to get in and out of the car and if there’s a third row how easy it is to get back there.

A cargo area that starts too high off the ground can make it really difficult to load heavy objects or even dogs in any car truck or SUV so open up the hatchback and see, is it knee high, thigh high, is it even all the way up to hip height?

Some cars have a nice low load floor but have a big lip that you have to lift things over that can also be a pain. On a sedan check out the opening width of the trunk big volume numbers are useless if the trunk is too small or narrow to really lift something substantial and put it inside. Finally check out if the back seats fold and how easy they are to do that and bring back up.

Chances are if you have kids they're coming with you to the Auto Show. Kids who don't need child safety seats can see how easily they can jump into the back seats and buckle themselves up.

If your kids do need car seats assuming you didn't lug them all the way with you to the Auto Show, look for latch anchors which are easiest to use if they're clearly visible.

Finally make sure you don't make any actual deals at the Auto Show itself. You always want to test drive a car see how it accelerates brakes rides and handles before you make any decision. Auto shows can be a huge help in the process though so make sure you take advantage of them.