Father’s Day is a uniquely American institution, and to commemorate the tradition, we picked out 10 vehicles that are most likely to make dad happy. Admittedly, our choices were subjective, but we tried to keep budget-friendliness, the indefinable “manliness” factor, and have a wide variety of vehicle types represented on the list, including sedans, coupes, trucks and SUVs.
Just to keep some semblance of family-friendliness in mind, two-seat models were disqualified, but made sure that fun-to-drive and performance were taken into consideration. We know not all of you will agree with our choices. What would your Top 10 list for dads look like?
Available in three distinct flavors; coupe, sedan and wagon, it’s hard to go wrong with the Cadillac CTS-V. The CTS-V has a configuration to suit just about anyone. The fact that the CTS-V is available with a manual transmission is an added bonus. But for some of us that have to concede to spousal mandates about getting an automatic, you still come out a winner, since the automatic is actually one-tenth quicker from 0-60 than the already scorching performance of the manual. Sure, it’s not the cheapest vehicle on our list, but from a bang-for-the-buck standpoint, and the variety of configurations available, the Cadillac CTS-V it gets a place on our list.
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Subjectively, the Chevrolet Camaro is the best-looking of the current crop of Detroit muscle cars, walking the fine line between retro and contemporary, and pulling it off. Unfortunately, its low-slung lines and high beltline result in a rather cramped and claustrophobic interior. That’s why we selected the convertible model. Top up or down, the Camaro convertible is a looker. And whether you just want the cool style, or some all-American V-8 performance and sound, there’s a model for you, from the base V-6 model, the sporty SS, or now the rip-snorting, yet surprisingly refined supercharged Camaro ZL1.
Dodge Charger SRT8
If you find yourself wanting a high-performance V-8 powered muscle car, but have practical considerations of family needs to factor into the equation, there’s probably no better balance between want and need than the Dodge Charger SRT8. Its 470 hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 delivers a solid 0-60 time in the low-to-mid 4s, yet its fullsize sedan proportions give you a generously-sized rear seat and capacious trunk. Although the Charger SRT8 can hardly be called an economy car, its EPA ratings of 14 city and 23 highway are actually a 1 and 4 mpg improvement over its predecessor, while delivering 45 more horsepower.
Ford F-150 SuperCrew
The Ford F-150 is one of the country’s best-selling vehicles, and it’s easy to see why. Ford has aggressively been setting and raising the bar in the fullsize truck segment for the last several years, innovating with powertrains, cabin tech and configurations to meet almost every conceivable want or need in the fullsize truck segment. At first, we were going to narrow it down to the Harley-Davidson edition for its bravado swagger, and bragging rights of saying you “own a Harley” even if the wife forbids an actual two-wheeler. But instead, we narrowed it by configuration to the versatile F-150 SuperCrew four-door model. Available in nearly every trim level in the lineup, from the budget-minded XL V-6 all the way up to the dune-hopping V-8 SVT Raptor, the Ford F-150 SuperCrew is a great compromise for a family truck that won’t make you feel like you’ve compromised.
Like the F-150, it’s hard to choose just one good Mustang. The Mustang has been an icon of the American car landscape since its introduction in the 1960s, and with each passing year, it seems to only get better. The 2013 model year brings some trim and detail changes to the entire Mustang lineup, but most significantly, the introduction of the astoundingly powerful 662-hp Shelby GT 500. Admittedly, the back seat is probably not the most comfortable place for anyone over the age of 13. But a case could be made for adding a Mustang to the family for the weekend cruiser fun factor.
GMC Sierra Denali
The Sierra Denali got the nod on this list for its solid combination of power, practicality, and upscale style. With a plush, leather-lined interior and generous helping of chrome trim, the Sierra Denali is more the site superintendent’s truck than the head carpenter’s truck. But with a 403-hp V-8 engine, and optional rear video player, the Denali can play the role of an elegant night out with the wife, tow rig for taking the ski boat to the lake, or everyday family transport. If you need something a little brawnier than a half-ton, the Denali trim is also offered on the 2500 and 3500 Sierra HD models.
The term “Japanese Muscle Sedan” may seem like an oxymoron to some, but the Infiniti M56 comes closest to fitting the term. Infiniti’s largest sedan, fitted with its largest engine, delivers plenty of comfort and sophistication, with an iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove performance punch. And although the Infiniti M hails from Japan, its 420 hp 5.6-liter V-8 is built in Decherd, Tennessee, appropriately enough. And if you live in an area where weather conditions make the prospect of a high-powered rear-drive V-8 sedan sound like a non-starter, Infiniti now offers the M56 with an all-wheel-drive option.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is yet another model where it was hard to pick just one trim for the list, so we decided to include them all. From the bread-and-butter Laredo to the high-performance Hemi V-8 powered SRT8, there’s a trim level of this SUV to fit just about any want, need or budget. The choices will be even greater later in 2013, when a turbodiesel model is introduced, offering even greater fuel economy with the Grand’s already excellent 7400-lb towing capacity.
While most of the selections on this list were targeted to the “99-Percent” dads, we thought we’d throw a model in that would appeal to 1-percent dads too. And for well-to-do family men, it’s hard to do better than the Porsche Cayenne. Even the base V-6 model offers decent performance, but the one to have, assuming your bank account can handle it, is the Turbo or Turbo S model. Be forewarned, it will blow past the six-figure mark without blinking, but this performance SUV will also blow past 60 in just 4.3 seconds. If you like the idea of owning a Cayenne, but still have some nagging rich guilt, consider the turbodiesel model, which will likely top 26 mpg highway. And if you can afford the Cayenne, the chances are you can also afford some recreational toys. And the Cayenne is more than up to the task with a no-nonsense 7700 lb towing capacity.
Toyota FJ Cruiser
As the decades progressed, the Toyota Land Cruiser moved continued to move further away from its basic, functional roots, and ultimately became a premium-priced luxury SUV. Sensing there might be a market for a more affordable, basic SUV along the lines of the Jeep Wrangler, Toyota introduced the FJ Cruiser in 2007. Priced a little below $30,000, the Toyota FJ Cruiser combines retro-inspired style from the original FJ40 Land Cruiser with modern-day mechanicals from the Toyota 4Runner SUV. If you’re looking at it from the standpoint of pure practicality, the more conventional 4Runner is probably a better choice. But the 4Runner can’t match the FJ Cruiser’s unique style and personality.