I broke down the best cars I had driven with my son, Carter, in tow. I broke them down by category and even squeezed in a sports car or two. One Father’s Day later — and one more child later — I’ve discovered that while one child-safety seat is easy to manage, two isn’t. My favorite cars this year are all on the larger side and not that sporty for the most part.
I hesitate to list my “worsts,” so this is more of a Top 10 with no real parameters other than I found these vehicles enjoyable even when loaded down with the family. Read on and tell me what you think of my choices in the comment section below.
10. 2010 Subaru Legacy I’d recommend the Legacy because the backseat is just huge, and it’s one of the few sedans of its size and price that offers all-wheel drive. If you already have a minivan or crossover for everyday family chores and still use the second car for two kids routinely, the Legacy fits the bill.
9. 2010 Mazda CX-9 Three-row crossovers are popular, and the CX-9 would be my first choice over the Chevrolet Traverse if it didn’t feel so much bigger and harder to navigate in tight spots. Otherwise, the CX-9’s highway prowess is superior as is its interior and exterior design.
8. 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid The Fusion Hybrid won the Cars.com Platinum Awards for the Best Car of 2010 with good reason. It has all the benefits of a traditional midsize sedan with none of the drawbacks of a hybrid powertrain. It feels like you’re driving a regular four-cylinder car — and a comfortable one at that. Plus, it doesn’t seem as manhood-stealing as a Prius … or a minivan.
7. 2011 Toyota Sienna SE Sport trims and minivans don’t go together, but if I had to get a minivan right now I’d pick this one. It just looks so cool, and its utility and unique features really stand out amongst the pack. I previously preferred the Honda Odyssey and will have to see how the new one stacks up against the Sienna when I see it in person.
6. 2010 Mazda6 Yes, we conducted a $25,000 Family Sedan Shootout and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata won, but I lived with a four-cylinder Mazda6 for a week and really enjoyed it on the commute. Like the Legacy, its backseat is large and works well with car seats. Plus, I think the looks speak more to the driving dad out there than the Sonata. If you want power, you can get the Mazda6’s impressive V-6, which the Sonata doesn’t offer. (I maintain the right to change my mind when the Sonata turbo comes out.)
5. 2011 Kia Sorento If you need three rows and plan on using them routinely, the Sorento is the cheapest SUV out there that I’d actually recommend. I’m strictly basing this recommendation on third-row use, as you can do more than just squeeze into them like others in this class. For the size and price, it’s a steal. I’d also pick the V-6 over the four-cylinder, especially after reports that they get the same mileage.
4. 2010 Chevy Traverse Out of all the GM crossovers, the Traverse seems to be the one everyone likes the most. I agree and don’t think I’d move up to Buick Enclave, mainly because the kids would ruin it. The best part about driving the Traverse is it doesn’t feel as big as it is. It’s almost nimble. Oh, and it easily swallows car seats, a stroller, groceries and more.
3. 2010 Subaru Outback My wife and I actually own a 2010 Outback with a four-cylinder. I think my pick would definitely be the six-cylinder. Its added power is impressive and makes the wagon an enjoyable driving car versus the “good-enough” feeling of our own family truckster. In the past few months of ownership, I have repeatedly thought we made the right choice trading in our 2008 Outback and getting the new model. My knees are never cramped in the front seat now.
2. 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged The subtitle of this car is the Autobiography Edition, which means it has leather on the dash and headliner, too. It’s over the top and at $100,000-plus, it isn’t the affordable pick. But it is the best SUV I’ve ever driven so it slots easily here.
1. 2010 Lincoln MKT The MKT ranks highest on my list because not only does it hold everything under the sun and fit my kids’ car seats easily, but it also hauls butt with the EcoBoost engine. While the Range Rover Supercharged is certainly a better machine, the MKT remains the choice for me as the attainable dream car.