10 midlife crisis cars for Father’s Day

Dad will enjoy any of these fun-to-drive, well-equipped—and discounted—models

Published: June 18, 2015 12:30 PM
Ford Mustang

Fatherhood is rich with rewards, but it might also come with some sacrifices. Your free time, for instance, can easily evaporate. And as your kid(s) and you get older, your hair might thin and your waistline might expand. And that can lead to a yearning for the excitement of youth. While Consumer Reports can’t send you back in time, we can recommend 10 indulgent cars that can peel away the years, at least figuratively speaking, and provide a little something extra.

Each car on our midlife-crisis list boasts a bold personality, with engaging dynamics, sharp looks, and pampering feature content. We pulled appealing models from across the spectrum, with a particular eye toward creature comforts, performance, and escapism. That said, most are still family-friendly choices that don't require tapping into a college fund or 401(k) plan.  

To make this list (models appear in alphabetical order), each car had to offer notable nationwide discounts. The charts indicate the potential savings below MSRP, based on incentives and negotiation. All are 2015 models, except for the Ford Fusion.

Click through the model names to get more detailed pricing and other information, such as the complete road test, reliability, owner satisfaction, and owner costs. Similar discounts are offered on other variations and trim levels.

Jeff Bartlett

Consumer Reports Build & Buy Car Buying Service

When buying a car, in addition to research and reviews, Consumer Reports offers subscribers access to the Build & Buy Car Buying Service at no additional cost. Through this service, a nationwide network of about 10,000 participating dealers provide upfront pricing information and a certificate to receive guaranteed savings off MSRP (in most states). The pricing information and guaranteed savings includes eligible incentives. Consumer Reports subscribers have saved an average of $2,919 off MSRP with the Build & Buy Car Buying Service.

Buick Regal

Tailored for the driver that wants to look beyond the ordinary, this well-honed and satisfying sports sedan has a European feel. With its agile handling, quick steering, and a taut, steady ride the Regal is one of Buick's best offerings. The 259-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder delivers good performance and fuel economy. Our tested Regal was quick and quiet, and delivered 24-mpg overall. The eAssist mild hybrid version gets about 29-mpg. Rich-feeling materials are used in the cabin, which has excellent fit and finish. The front seats are firm and supportive, though the rear seat is snug. Infotainment system controls are mostly simple, and AWD is available on all trim lines. A standard built-in Wi-Fi hot spot is new for 2015.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Buick Regal Turbo $30,915 $30,315 $1,900

Cadillac ATS

Looking for an American alternative to a German sport sedan? The ATS is the answer. Nimble and capable handling, a taut ride, and excellent braking make the ATS a treat to drive. Three engines are available, with rear- or all-wheel drive: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 3.6-liter V6, and a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. The turbo feels quick but got just 23-mpg overall. The six-speed automatic is a step behind the seven- and eight-speeds in most competitors. A manual gearbox is available. The interior is well-finished but very snug. Interacting with the audio or phone through Cadillac's Cue system, with its flush buttons and dazzling display, is very convoluted and frustrating. A coupe and high-performance ATS-V with a 464-hp, twin-turbo V6 are available. The coupe also has significant discounts, but it isn’t (obviously) as family friendly.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Cadillac ATS Sedan 3.6L V6 $45,655 $43,645 $1,340 6/30

Chevrolet Camaro

The Camaro looks and sounds like a classic muscle car that escaped from a Transformers movie set. Our tested SS was very quick, thanks to its 6.2-liter V8. Performance from the base 3.6-liter V6 was unexciting. Handling is very capable, but the car's size and weight make it feel ponderous in everyday driving and on our track. Braking performance on the SS is excellent, and the ride is taut and controlled but not punishing. However, the emphasis on exterior and interior styling hurt practicality, hampering visibility, befuddling the control layout, and leaving room for just a small trunk and tiny rear seat. High-performance ZL1 and Z/28 versions top the line. A new Camaro goes on sale late 2015, meaning dealerships should be increasingly willing to negotiate on this outgoing model as summer progresses.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1SS $34,500 $33,830 $2,505 6/30

Chrysler 300

Photo: A. J. Mueller

Reminding of classic American sedans, Chrysler's powerful, luxurious 300 is one of the best large sedans on the market. Inside, you'll find plenty of space for five adults and a comfortable cabin with attractive trim. The punchy 5.7-liter V8 comes paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic. But our preferred choice is the 3.6-liter V6, which also uses the eight-speed and brings a stately ride and responsive handling, along with a good 22-mpg overall in our tests. All-wheel drive is optional. The Uconnect touch-screen system is one of the best in the industry. The 2015 model got a mild styling update, a rotating knob for gear changes, a big driver-info screen in the gauge cluster, and a stack of modern safety gear.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Chrysler 300C $39,065 $37,695 $3,642 6/30

Dodge Challenger

The look may be old school, reminding Dad of high-school hijinks, yet the Challenger is a modern, thrilling barnstormer. It's too heavy and wide for handling agility, but it surprises with its balanced and enjoyable cornering on an open track. The V8 sound is heart-warming. Ride comfort, noise isolation, and the stiff shifter and clutch detract however, and the view out is dreadful. The rear seat is relatively roomy but accessing is awkward. Performance packages include a 485-hp, 6.4-liter Hemi V8; the Hellcat uses a 707-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and a new eight-speed automatic. Base models stick with the 3.6-liter V6, but we prefer the 5.7-liter V8. Safety tech includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, and forward-collision warning.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Dodge Challenger SXT Plus $30,990 $30,421 $1,900

Ford Fusion

An alternative to a plain vanilla, midsized sedan, the stylish Fusion is a delight to drive, with a supple ride and agile handling rivaling that of a European sports sedan. All trim levels and powertrains feel solid and upscale, with a quiet and well-finished cabin. But the rear seat is somewhat snug, and the MyFord Touch interface is an annoyance. Most Fusions get either a 1.5- or 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder matched with a six-speed automatic. The 1.5-liter does the job, but the 2.0-liter packs more punch and better suits the car. We recorded 24-and 22-mpg overall, respectively, which is among the lower performers in the category. The Hybrid turned in an excellent 39-mpg overall. The real treat here is a well-equipped version with the spunky 2.0-liter engine.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
2016 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD $33,215 $31,420 $1,972

Ford Mustang

Ford's redesigned Mustang pays homage to its roots in a modern package with an independent rear suspension. Base models use a 300-hp, 3.7-liter V6, but the big news is the 310-hp, 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder that delivers some punch but sounds raspy. Regardless, the model Dad has always wanted is a GT, now with a 5.0-liter V8. We found the slick six-speed manual particularly satisfying; the automatic also works well. Fastback and convertible body styles are available. (No notchback this generation.) Handling is agile and balanced, and the ride is firm yet tied down. New features include keyless entry, push-button start, and the Sync infotainment system. In addition to fun, technology brings blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Ford Mustang GT
$37,125 $35,123 $1,589

Hyundai Equus

For the Dad that favors luxury, size, and value in equal measures, the Hyundai Equus has true appeal, aided by the pile of money found on the long hood. Simply put: Hyundai's flagship competes with the largest premium sedans but costs a good deal less. The Equus absorbs and hides all but the most severe impacts, but buoyant body motions give the car a busy feeling at times. Handling can best be described as ponderous, with notable body lean and steering that lacks any feedback. The standard V8 has smooth and refined power delivery, and the eight-speed automatic does its job with little notice. The interior is spacious and well-finished, but some controls are complex. Available features include adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Hyundai Equus Signature $62,450 $59,029 $4,845

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

The Genesis Coupe has always shown flashes of potential, but several flaws continue to hold it back. The 3.8-liter V6 engine is powerful and sounds great; the noisy turbocharged four-cylinder has been dropped. The Coupe has precise and agile handling, with well-contained body lean. The steering is quick, direct, and precise, delivering good communication without feeling overly heavy. On our track, the Genesis Coupe displayed two distinct personalities, depending on the status of the electronic stability control system. When on, the ESC aggressively clamped down at the slightest indication of wheelspin or slide, not only applying the brakes, but cutting engine power for a second or so, keeping the car safe and secure. Switching off the system revealed a sports car that is entertaining and engaging to drive in the proper environment. An experienced driver can easily exploit the car's neutral balance with the use of both throttle and steering inputs. Front-seat occupants will find plenty of room, but as in most coupes, the rear seat is very cramped. A backup camera is now available.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Hyundai Genesis Coupe auto. $28,845 $27,730 $1,839

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Photo: AJ Mueller

Big, bold, and masculine, the Grand Cherokee excels with its solid, upscale interior, comfortable seats, and supple, controlled ride. Handling is fairly agile, fit and finish is excellent, and the eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly. The standard 3.6-liter V6 returned just 18 mpg, though. We liked the well-performing diesel, which racked up 24-mpg overall. Two V8s, a 5.7-liter and the SRT's ferocious 6.4-liter, are optional. The Uconnect infotainment system, with its large, well-labeled touch screen, is one of the easiest-to-use systems we've tested. Appropriately optioned, the Grand Cherokee makes a good tow vehicle or a capable off-roader. This is the grown-up Jeep that can make Dad feel like he’s ready for a wilderness adventure, with ample room for the whole family.

Make & model MSRP Invoice Potential savings below MSRP Incentives expire
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4 $47,590 $45,774 $1,898

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