Driver's Seat: It's your turn to take a spin as shopper for

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Over the three years I've been testing cars, I've have many people tell me they wish they could get this gig.

Now could be the chance -- sort of -- for a lucky half-dozen people.

Sorry, you can't have my column; there is only one Mr. Driver's Seat, after all. But a similar gig is being made available from one of my go-to automotive resources,, which is hiring temporary compact-car shoppers at its headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., for a four-day stint at the end of September.

What will they be doing?

"They'll be test driving the hottest new compact sedans, meeting lots of Edmunds experts and learning the highlights of what they know," said Jeannine Fallon, executive director of corporate communications for

The Connect & Drive Experience is geared to turning these consumers into experts. Through the program, six more go-to people will be added to the ranks for friends and family and others to use as a resource in car buying. To this end, Ms. Fallon said the company is hoping to pick its six consumers from different regions of the United States.

Shoppers will write about what they've learned on the website.

Company president Seth Berkowitz said in the press announcement, "Nearly 40 percent of car shoppers want a helping hand through the car buying experience."

I can attest to that. Having bought a new car and a used one in a six-month span, I find that even having a part-time gig doing this isn't enough to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

I was lucky when we started shopping for the new Kia Soul because I knew what Mrs. Passenger Seat wanted, down to the color, trim level and options, and I'd already driven three different Souls: one for a column; one as a rental when Sturgis Kid 2.0 and a deer collided; and one that belonged to a friend.

Friends and family can be a great starting point for learning more about a car. It was my friend's Soul that actually introduced me to how deceptively large the interior space was; I'd only ever thought about hamsters driving Souls up until that point.

And having more knowledgeable people join the ranks of car shoppers is definitely a good thing. Colleagues, friends and family are always asking for my opinion, and I'm glad to share what I know. I also average about 10 emails from readers a month asking about new cars, and always answer them to the best of my ability. But I have my experiences and biases, and other people can add their own, which may be more like what you've experienced.

If you are interested in the gig, here are some of the things you must possess:

• Legal residency in the United States (excluding United States possessions and territories).

• A valid U.S. driver's license.

• Age 21 years or older.

• A clean driving record.

• Availability to travel and stay in Santa Monica from Sept. 24-27.

• Plans to buy a new sedan within the next six months. will accept applications until Sept. 13, and the Connect & Drive participants will be announced on Sept. 16. Shoppers also will be paid $500 for their experience.

Apply online at

And if you heard about it here, let me know how it goes, whether you get picked or not.


Scott Sturgis, a freelance auto writer, can be reached at


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