Disclosure: This article is a sponsored post on behalf of Life of Dad and Kelley Blue Book. I have received compensation for this post; however, all opinions stated are my own.
If you had to buy a new car today, how would you go about it?
I had a crash course on how to do it right at the Kelley Blue Book headquarters in southern California recently. I learned how its editors review cars and, needless to say, they do it way better than I do.
They aren’t like the guys on shows like Top Gear who push cars to the edge of their performance. Instead, they buckle down (and in) to learn how people like you are going to really live with cars. That surprised me because I had always thought of the Kelley Blue Book as the resource to find out how much my used car was actually worth. Turns out they are so much more.
Kelley Blue Book works very hard to be a trusted resource that helps people make the best possible car buying decision. They do it kind of like this:
The Kelley Blue Book’s website has reviews on almost every car out there. The editors give you a real-life clue about how much gas and maintenance will cost you during the first five years of ownership along with details about the car’s features, amenities and “feel.” It’s kind of like a fantastic cheat sheet to prep you for a really hard test. A road test at the dealership, in this case.
Because the Kelley Blue Book people drive so many vehicles so thoroughly, they are in a unique position to objectively judge the best cars for different situations. They had me and a group of other dads visit KBB HQ to test drive some of what the company determined to be the 16 Top Family Cars of ’16. KBB selected the five vehicles they thought to be among the best cars for dads and asked us to drive them. So we split into teams, took the keys to the cars and headed out on a beautiful Southern California road trip to get a feel for each of them. The trip had five legs and on each one we drove a different vehicle from their sublist of the best cars for dads.
Best Cars for Dads: Chevy Tahoe
While I’m not a fan of big cars, this one rode smoothly. It can almost carry a full Little League team, too. Fold down the third row and you can also carry your family and all the Little League team’s gear. This car took us from KBB HQ down to Laguna Beach and along the Pacific Coast to Dana Point. While I don’t see myself as a Big Car guy, if I did want a third row this would be worth a look for sure.
Best Cars for Dads: Subaru Outback
I am a roadtripper and an outdoor adventurer, so this car speaks to my soul. It is the least “entertainment tech” inclusive car we drove, so if that is your thing you will be underwhelmed. It is none-the-less a fun vehicle to drive. One of the Kelley Blue Book guys said if the apocalypse happens tomorrow, this is the car you want today. We took this car through the hills of Laguna Nigel and down into the heart of Newport Beach. It is no secret that this was far and away my favorite vehicle in the bunch because it suits my style.
Best Cars for Dads: Honda Civic
This thing is sporty and just fun to drive. I’ve owned a Civic before and they just keep getting better. I almost felt like I was in a race car. Almost! It handles well, picks up speed quickly, and has cameras everywhere. It is safe and sporty. If I didn’t have two boys that were almost teenagers and like road tripping with my wife then this might have been my top pick. The trunk space was ample, but the back seat would get a little cramped for two growing boys on the longer trips. As we roared through the campus of University of California Irvine, making our way to the Irvine Spectrum Center, I may have forgotten for a moment that I was a 40-year-old father of two. Just for a moment … or two.
Best Cars for Dads: Kia Optima
This car was not far off from the Civic. It has fewer cameras but it does have electrically cooled driver and front passenger seats. I didn’t know that existed, and it is wonderful for hot climates … and especially our drive through the desert hills. I imagine it wouldn’t be half bad for summers in my hometown of Chicago either. the Optima offers a smooth ride that feels like you are in a luxury full-size sedan. It is actually a mid-size but don’t tell it that because it won’t believe you. We took this car on a trip through Silverado and into Trabuco Canyon to a biker bar that, I’ll be honest, felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We were enjoying the ride so much that we almost missed it.
Best Cars for Dads: Toyota Sienna
No offense to minivan people, but I can’t do it. That being said this was a great drive. Plenty of room for families with more than five people. An entertainment system to keep small kids pacified on longer trips. And it handles well. I’m not a minivan guy but if I was … I like the Toyota Sienna. There, I said it.
We shared more pictures on Twitter and Instagram of our adventures with the best cars for dads. You should check them out we used the Hashtag #KBBDads to make them easy to find.
If you are in the market for a new car, spend some time over at KBB.com. We learned it was a valuable place to get new car smart!
All photos by Eric Bennion.