The 7 Best Vehicles For Dads

For many years, we talked about specific cars for moms, and this sexist automotive category was almost only used as a pejorative. I guess the insinuation was that moms only cared about cramming as many kids in a vehicle as possible? That implies that dads care about something different. I’m not quite sure what, but I rarely hear anyone talk about “dad cars.” Seeing as how I have a little critter on the way, maybe it’s worth looking into. Here is my attempt to figure out what some dads might want from a vehicle while attempting to keep stereotypes to a minimum. 

A 2023 Kia Carnival minivan model parked in a field at sunset with front headlights turned on
2023 Kia Carnival | Kia America

What makes these the best vehicles for dads? 

Let’s see if I can get through this without deploying too much unnecessarily gendered language.

Becoming a father is the coolest time in a man’s life, period. However, if you are a dad that loves cars, you’ll probably have to bend on the models you’d prefer. The old days of hopping into your sketchy Miata or overly lifted Wrangler are quickly coming to an end, at least probably for a little while. 

It’s time to step up to the big boys; SUVs, Crossovers, or even a minivan. But don’t sweat it, dudes. We can still find fun, satisfying, practical, safe, and, dare I say it, cool family-approved rides. Trust me. All you have to do is remain open and maybe change some prescribed notions of what cool is. I know, I already sound uncool. 

Toyota 4Runner

A white 2023 Toyota 4Runner followed by a 1983 4Runner.
2023 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

See, right off the bat, we have a cool one. Gear Patrol even agrees that the Toyota 4Runner is peak dad; practical, reliable, and cinder-block shaped. Not only can you easily fit five people, but you can fit gear for days. You got strollers, carriers, diaper bags, breast pump, and whatever else the critters need, you can fit it in a 4Runner. 

If you are the type to worry about not being “cool enough” anymore, you can take your family ride in the mud. Although, the crushed cheerios in the back might hurt your street cred.

Subaru Forester Wilderness

A light blue 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness compact SUV model parked on a forest trail bathed in sunlight
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Subaru of America, Inc.

The Subaru Forester Wilderness is cool. It’s not “cool for a dad car;” it’s just straight-up cool. The 4Runner demands payment for staying cool with high prices at the dealer and the gas pump. These off-road bred Foresters are slick, efficient, reliable, and far more affordable than they seem. You can get a Wilderness Edition for around $35k today with the wacky car prices. 

Despite it being a bit smaller, it still offers tons of space and a comfortable ride.

Toyota Sienna

2022 Toyota Sienna in a brilliant green paint
2022 Toyota Sienna | Toyota

What? Y’all thought I was gonna skip the minivan, didn’t you? Think again. Minivans are the most dad-approved vehicle on Earth; at least, they should be. The Toyota Sienna comes in badass colors, all-wheel drive, a hybrid powerplant, endless safety and comfort features, and even a touch of sporty JDM styling. Wake up, dads! The minivan is for us. Where else can you get a vehicle with 35 mpg, 245 hp, AWD, and Bluray players? 

Toyota Sequoia 

White 2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro going down a rocky hill
2023 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro | Toyota

Buying a Sequoia is like pulling a rip chord; you won’t do it until you need it. The Toyota Sequoia has long been one of the most prolific family haulers on our roads. These buses are everywhere. 

If you need more room than the 4Runner but still want a bulletproof powertrain, a killer 4×4 system, and something that makes you feel cool, the Sequoia has your name on it. 

Ford Bronco

A 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor in red navigates off-road terrain.
2022 Ford Bronco Raptor | Ford

Alright, I’m going a little rogue now. But there is a bit of a method here. As long as an off-road truck has a certain level of civility, they can be great cars for dads. Think about it; if a car is made to get muddy and wet, its waterproof upholstery, rough flooring, and armored exterior sound perfect for having little ones raising hell. 

The Ford Bronco is cool, tough, large, and easily washable. I’ll say again: easily washable. 

Mini Cooper Countryman

RELATED: The 2022 Mini Countryman Is the Coolest Small SUV by a Long Shot

Another weird one, I know, but hear me out. Yes, a Mini Countryman won’t serve a growing family for long. You will fill it up quickly. However, if you are only a trio, the Countryman will do the job beautifully. They are fun and sporty but not as small as they seem. 

If you live in a major city and parking is a hassle, you’ll run from anything big and bulky. The Mini is still SUV-ish while still being shorter than most sedans. This means a tall roof, decent storage options, and a short wheelbase for parking. Think about it. 

Honda Odyssey

Profile of a new Honda odyssey in blue
Honda Odyssey | Honda

The Odyssey has to be the ultimate dad car. The Toyota Sienna is great. But there is something special about the Honda Odyssey. It makes no pretenses. It has never once in the history of the model tried to be anything other than what it is: a practical, safe, spacious, potential machine. The Odyssey is full of potential. The space and reliability it affords its drivers create a sense of possibility. 

What more could a dad want than a safe, reliable car that gives you the sense that the future is open and your family can grow to meet those possibilities? A little too cheesy? Sure, but that’s the point. Dads are cheesy. Most of us can agree on that. So if we accept the cheesiness, then why are dads trying so hard to have a “cool” car?

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