Jerkfaced, (ha, I laughed as I typed that)
I agree that renting for a few weeks is preferred because you can never tell from a test drive. I rent cars/suvs for work, but usually they are vehicles I wouldn't want (ie: I had a Nissan Rogue for 2 months... eww horrible vehicle, terrible drive). Problem is, most of the cars I'm looking at are not available at rental places, though apparently the JGC is available at Enterprise according to someone here. However, I've yet to find a place to rent out a Volvo S60 T5 AWD, BMW 328xi, BMW X1, Acura RDX, or Subaru Forester XT. Hertz has the Ford Escape, but only the base model, not the ecoboost (which is what I'd buy). Audi's are also not around rental places that I've seen, though I'd probably stay away from them since I've heard some bad stories about Audi's from owners.
As for traffic... I live in New Jersey so traffic happens. So, that is good to know about the 8 and 9 speed transmission.