As Father's Day approaches, there are many deserving dads who aren't in the car, truck or SUV they ought to be. We canvassed our editors near and far for choices that would make any dad forget that tie you gave him last year. They are ordered from most family-friendly to fortresses of solitude.
Suburban Dad: The 2015 Chevrolet Suburban bears the namesake of his milieu, and offers all the towing capacity he needs to pull the family pontoon boat, and enough passenger and cargo space to ferry the whole T-ball team to the ice-cream parlor after a big win. Plus, he can load it up enough with options to be able to brag to the other suburban dads how he dropped $75K without getting all uppity.
Performance Patriarch: The 2014 Dodge Durango has room for kids, deck supplies, you name it. Dad-certified performance comes courtesy of an available kick-ass Hemi V-8, and the 8.4-inch Uconnect display has all the tech that Dad needs — without being too complicated for the rest of the family to work.
Inventive Adventure-Seeking Dad: A father looking to pack up the family for a long trip with the kids and the boat needs something roomy and rated for towing; it helps if there's extra space for a portable toilet and power hookups for video games. It also helps if there's an available pin-striping package to match the color of your boat (of course!). Dad could easily make this work with a 2014 Ford Expedition, and a family willing to put up with Dad's inventive sense of adventure.
Batter Up, Dad: The 2014 Subaru Outback easily handles all the gear that goes with coaching Little League. This wagon can swallow buckets of baseballs, multiple bags of gear and all the lost jackets and water bottles that the young players always leave behind. And its rubber mat in the cargo area makes it a breeze for Dad to clean up all that baseball-diamond dust.
Der Wunder Vater (the Wonder Father): You have to shuttle the kids around, it's just part of your life now. Who says you can't enjoy making 'em scream in terror howl in delight on the way to soccer practice? The 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG Wagon is practically the perfect family car that Dad won't have any problem showing up in. Start with the brain-melting 577-horsepower, twin-turbocharged AMG-tuned V-8 engine that's stuffed into the sensible, cargo-hauling all-wheel-drive E-Class wagon, add huge wheels, a menacing body-kit, and the ability to go from zero to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. With a starting price of $100,695, I'm afraid one of the rugrats had better start throwing that football in order to pay for college, however.
Audio-Loving Pop: A good all-around family car keeps the peace, but one that can rock out after the kids have been dropped off makes me happiest. Right now, the best at both tasks is the 2014 Acura MDX, with its top-of-the-line sound system. Its surround sound also helps when the kids are watching movies.
Desert Dune Dad: For all those times my dad wouldn't let me drive the car too fast on dirt roads (we did a lot of camping when I was growing up), I would give my dad a 2014 Ford SVT Raptor so he could experience the thrill and chill of flying over a dirt road like a professional desert racer.
Hopalong Granddad: The 2014 Subaru Impreza could be a big win for grandfathers more than fathers. It's got excellent visibility, comes in a hatchback (to carry all the grandkids' stuff), decent mileage and it's not burdened by touch-screens or a lot of unnecessary tech. Plus, with the all-wheel drive, they'll always be able to see the grandkids, even when they live way up north.
Go-Kart Dad: If your dad likes the feeling of going fast but his back hates the pain that comes with it, get him into the 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop. While it still has the go-kart speed and handling, the Cooper's revised ride is far less punishing, and the controls are easier to use and feel more substantial.
Playful Pop: With the Cars.com Play Car of the Year, the 2014 Porsche Boxster, Dad can be alone with his thoughts, the wind and up to 315 horsepower of fun. Starting at just over $51,000, it won't crush the bank, but it could make the perfect getaway car for Dad and Mom when the kids have all fled the nest.
Cars.com editors Matt Schmitz, Kelsey Mays, Jennifer Geiger, Jennifer Newman, Aaron Bragman, David Thomas, Mark Williams and Bill Jackson all contributed to this report.
Tomwang112/Thinkstock image; Manufacture images; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears, David Thomas and Kristin Varela