10 Best Family Cars For Father's Day

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- It's a long leap from a greeting card holiday to a bow-on-the-car occasion, but there are dads out there who wouldn't mind making it.

Sorry, but if Mercedes Benz gets to make any old 1 percenter's Christmas a "December to Remember," there's no reason the fathers of America can't upgrade their well-worn family cars for something with a little more charisma. We're not talking about youth-recapturing sports cars or social camouflage pickups to convince themselves they're not suburban office drones, but calloused cattle ranchers.

We're looking at family vehicles that, while somewhat lacking in cool, represent a comfortable, stylish upgrade from the vehicles they've sacrificed to road trips, school shuttling, sports practices and endless commutes. With dad in mind, we hit up the folks at Kelley Blue Book for some family cars he'd love. With their help, we've come up with 10 that will be more appreciated than a tie or Fudgie The Whale ice cream cake:

10. 2013 GMC Suburban

Starting price: $43,870

For the dad who's not quite ready to let go of his big, honkin' SUV from his late-'90s/early aughts glory days, the Suburban is still willing to let him live his oversized dream for an inflated price.

The Suburban's price tag would be a nice little down payment on a suburban home, but dads willing to part with it get room for eight passengers and a whopping 137 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with the seats down and nearly five tons of towing capacity for boats, motor homes, trailers full of quads or personal watercraft or whatever else he desires.

He'll also be extremely comfy with his hands around the Suburban's heated steering wheel and his posterior planted in its available leather-appointed, heated front seats. With his remote vehicle starter system and rear-parking assist, he has less to stress him out at the beginning and end of the trip, while the Suburban's 5.3-liter V8 engine, 320 horsepower and passenger entertainment screen give him plenty of power and relative peace during his journey.

Maybe that entry price is a bit high and maybe that combined 18 miles per gallon is really inefficient. But Fathers Day is only once a year, and a man can dream.

9. 2013 Nissan (NSANY) Altima

Starting price: $21,760

Perhaps the king of utilitarian family sedans, the Nissan Altima is trying to shake that image by offering a combined 33 miles per gallon. It's also been streamlined for 2013 with a sporty new exterior and is laden with a smattering of new toys to placate dads settled into a sedan existence.

That 15.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity isn't a whole lot, but the cabin is quiet, the new tech features include satellite radio, Pandora ( P), Bluetooth and hands-free texting, and safety options include blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system and a moving-object detector.

8. 2013 Honda (HMC) CR-V.

Starting price: $22,795

For dads everywhere, the CR-V is the universal signal for surrender. It's the white flag that's indicated they've committed to someone else's needs other than their own by sacrificing the cooler ride he owned in the city for something more practically suited to shuttling around the suburbs and beyond.

At least he's surrendering into friendly hands. The popular crossover's 2012 overhaul only made it more alluring by adding a leather interior, heated seats, rearview windows and a navigation system with controls mounted on the steering wheel. It's also trimmed fuel efficiency to a combined 27 miles per gallon while leaving all 70 cubic feet of cargo space untouched. As practical dad utility vehicles go, it's a sound choice and one he won't be alone in parking in the school lot.

7. 2013 Ford Fusion

Starting price: $21,900

Ford's midsize just got an overhaul that makes it look like anything other than the faceless utilitarianmobiles this category is accustomed to.

With a sporty new exterior, keyless entry keypad, its own app, Microsoft's ( MSFT) SYNC entertainment and communications system (that also doubles as a Wi-Fi hotspot, a blind-spot alert system, adaptive cruise control and Hill Start Assist that holds the brake when starting on an incline, there are a ton of extraordinary features in what's supposed to be Ford's most ordinary car.

Its combined 28 miles per gallon and capless fuel tank are also lovely, but its availability as a 47 miles per gallon hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle also give dad some options.

6. 2013 Toyota (TM) Avalon

Starting price: $30,990

Until 2012, the Avalon had luxury car size but also luxury car mileage at a combined 24 miles per gallon -- yet a few too many plastic parts and rough fabric to be considered a luxury.

Toyota's fixed that, upgrading the 2013 to a Lexus ES frame and trimming fuel economy to roughly 35 miles per gallon. It gave the Avalon LED taillights, noise reduction in all the right places, heated front seats, a moonroof, a touchscreen entertainment center, wood-grain trim and a backup camera.

The mileage on the base model gets only up to a combined 26 miles per gallon, but that jumps to 40 mpg in the hybrid model. The cost jumps as well, with that efficiency coming at a $5,000 premium.

5. 2013 Honda Odyssey

Starting price: $28,675

Yes, it's a minivan, but it's about the most formidable minivan available for the money. It has room for seven passengers and nearly 150 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are out. Its center seat slides forward nearly six inches to give parents easier access to little ones, its center console has a flip-up trash holder and beverage cooler and the backup camera offers three different views of the area behind the rear bumper.

If traveling families want to trick it out, their road trips can get a little easier with help from such options as three-zone climate control, conversation mirrors and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 16.2-inch high-definition monitor with an HDMI connection that can display two sources at the same time.

The most pleasant surprise is under the hood, where the 248-horsepower V6 offers power atypical of a parentmobile.

4. 2013 Volkswagen Passat

Starting price: $20,845

Built in Chattanooga, Tenn., and aimed squarely at American families, the midsized Passat hits dads where they live with a combined 27 miles per gallon. It doesn't get the 37 mpg of the $5,000-more-expensive turbodiesel version, but a best-in-class 16 cubic feet of trunk space and a three-year, 36,000-mile maintenance plan aren't exactly consolation prizes.

3. 2013 Toyota Prius V

Starting price: $26,650

Its combined 42 miles per gallon falls short of the 50 offered by the original Prius, but the V's 67.3 cubic feet of cargo space is what matters during a long haul with the family. That's far better than the original-recipe Prius' 39.6 cubic feet and almost as much cargo space as Toyota's RAV4. All the cargo space and none of the gas money? Yeah, the V knows how to soften up the haters.

2. 2013 Honda (HMC) Accord

Starting price: $21,680

Even the blandest midsize cars on the market need a makeover every so often.

Honda's goal was to make the Accord less of a Point A-to-Point B snoozefest by adding standard an 8-inch LCD display for its information, communication and app-based entertainment system, a single-angle backup camera, dual-zone climate control, a lane-drift detector, a power moonroof and alloy wheels to its 2013 model. The snazzy new options include a three-angle backup cam, enhanced safety sensors, LED running lights and adaptive cruise control.

What dad should be most excited about, however, is the Accord's combined 32 miles per gallon. The rest is pretty, but having a little more money in one's pocket makes it a lot easier to enjoy the rest.

1. 2013 Nissan Pathfinder

Starting price: $28,650

It took the Pathfinder a long time to forget its SUV heyday, but it looks like it finally crossed over.

As recently as a year ago, the Pathfinder was still being built to compete with the Chevy Blazer and Ford Bronco. It was hopped up on trucks, still getting a paltry 18 miles per gallon and firmly believed a 4.0-liter V6 is something anyone wants in a family vehicle. This year it finally joined the rest of the modern automotive world by switching to a car-platform crossover, trimming to a 3.5-liter V6 and cutting fuel economy to a combined 23 miles per gallon. It still has seven seats and nearly 80 cubic feet of storage room with the two rows of rear seats down. The second row moves up five inches for easy rear-seat access and there's three-zone climate control to go with an available three-zone entertainment center.

If dad remembers the Pathfinder from its glory days, he's going to love the updates that have grown up with him.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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