Father’s Day is just around the corner—what will your dad be driving? While a new car would be quite the generous gift, many families do use holidays as an opportunity to make major purchases. Should your father need new wheels, we have compiled some suggestions based on budget, needs, and personality.
The vehicles suggested below all meet Consumer Reports criteria for being recommended, by performing well in our tests, and meeting high standards for reliability and safety. Some are tops in their class, while others are strong performers that stand out for a combination of family friendliness and masculinity for their respective categories. Some of them are just plain fun.
Best for new dad: Subaru Forester
With all-wheel drive, elevated ground clearance, great visibility, flexible cargo space, and excellent safety marks, the versatile Forester is like an automotive starter-kit for a new dad. As a bonus, our testers find it is easier to securely mount child safety seats in the Forester than some competitors.
Best family sedan for dad: Nissan Altima
A traditional sedan with a reputation for fuel efficiency and reliability, the Altima is a wise choice in a segment populated with good models. Add some extra excitement with the 270-hp V6.
Best for green dad: Toyota Prius
The Prius remains the thriftiest machine on the road, delivering 44 mpg overall in our tests. It is a five seater, with added versatility from the hatchback design. It can be had in rather basic trim, or dressed up with numerous luxury accoutrements.
Best for growing family: Toyota Sienna
Hard to beat a minivan for sheer family friendliness, whether transporting a basketball team or bringing home 4x8-foot plywood for projects, a minivan can do it all. And the Sienna does it better than most.
Best for dad’s midlife crisis: Ford Mustang GT
Many American dads grew up dreaming of owning a muscle car, right from their first youthful exposure to a burbling V8. The Mustang GT is a great car to realize that fantasy, offering more comfort and performance than the cars that defined the 1960s muscle-car era. If he’s squeamish about fuel costs, the V6 manages to be both relatively efficient and more powerful than the GT just a few years ago.
Best for sporty dad: Infiniti G37 sedan
A perennial Top Pick, the G37 is a real treat that is agile, fun, stylish, and down-right coddling. It drives like your dream coupe, yet has room to bring along a modest-sized family. A new less-expensive G25 model offers much of the goodness, but with better fuel economy. Like with the BMW 3 Series, a coupe, convertible, and AWD versions are also available.
Best for all-season dad: Subaru Outback
For tackling rough weather and roads, the Outback provides a lot of comfort, cargo space, fuel economy, and traction for the money. Daresay, it makes wagons cool. And throw in a season-pass to his favorite ski mountain as a bonus.
Best for upscale dad: Hyundai Genesis sedan
While it might be tempting to stretch for the exquisite Infiniti M37, the Hyundai Genesis 3.8 offers significant luxury and space for money, and it is backed by an extensive warranty. The interior is quiet and well finished perfect for the end of a busy work day.
Best for weekend warrior: Honda Ridgeline
A family friendly, light-duty pickup truck, the Ridgeline is much like a Honda Pilot awaiting a bed toy, like an ATV, motorcycle, or mountain bikes.
Best for empty-nest dad: BMW 328i coupe
Once the days of shuttling kids are behind, a stylish coupe can be a great reward for dear ol’ dad. The 3 Series delivers a rich combination of luxury and performance, with excellent fit and finish and engaging dynamics. Choose a coupe, retractable hardtop convertible or add AWD as appropriate.
For more suggestions, see the best-in-class models by car type, or use our interactive car selector tool to sort and filter our ratings by the factors that matter most to you and Dad.
If a car is a touch beyond your budget, and you still need shopping suggestions, read: Best GPS navigators for Father's Day 2011.