Picture it: After decades of working hard, you've finally retired. You wake up lazily at 10:30 a.m. on the first day of your employment-free life and think of all the fun things you could do: hit the golf course, take your grandkids to the mall, plan a vacation -- or even head to the dealership for a new car. If you're ready to take that plunge, we've developed a list of fun and practical rides to perfectly fit your new lifestyle.
MSRP: $13,950 - $15,270
The Honda Fit is a fun-to-drive subcompact that's great for zipping around town. Even better, its innovative "magic seat" design provides four different cargo and seating configurations -- so you can fit a whole lot, whether it's grandchildren or golf clubs. The award-winning Fit's only major drawback is seating comfort; a few test drivers find the front seat a little awkward.
MSRP: $19,900 - $27,095
The award-winning Chevy Malibu is all about comfort. Its suspension contributes to a smooth ride, while the front seats are roomy and supportive. The Malibu also features a huge trunk -- larger than both the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. However, the rear seats could be confining for taller occupants. Plus, its new exterior is a head-turner. The Detroit Free Press says it may be "the best looking of the current midsize sedans, with elegant lines, purposeful hood and a bold twin-port grille bearing a proud gold Chevrolet badge."
MSRP: $20,700 - $28,400
The Honda CR-V is a small, affordable SUV with plenty of storage space for your golf clubs and coolers. "The CR-V's interior is its best attribute, offering an impressively large and versatile cargo hold that tops out at 73 cubic feet of space," says Edmunds. "Additionally, there are plenty of bins, cubbies and cupholders to stash things." The CR-V's car-like driving dynamics are a high point. Though its four-cylinder engine can be a bit sluggish, you're retired -- do you really need to go anywhere in a hurry?
MSRP: $21,500 - $23,770
With its roomy interior, loads of standard equipment and the best fuel economy on the road today, it's hard to find fault with the Toyota Prius. Despite its unique hybrid architecture, this sedan is easy to drive and offers better performance than some gasoline-powered cars. Even better, the interior offers more cargo and passenger space than many rivals. But make sure to give the Prius a good test drive -- some reviewers say the driving position can be awkward.
MSRP: $26,910 - $29,310
This is the muscle car you had your heart set on at 16 -- only better, because it comes with a dose of practicality. Along with spirited performance, the affordable Pontiac G8 offers seating for four and ample cargo space, although some of the interior controls are oddly positioned. Just make sure you really want a sporty drive, because the G8's performance-tuned suspension can contribute to a stiff ride. Plus, the V8 engine option will cost you at the pump.
MSRP: $28,900 - $38,400
The Audi A4 may be pricey, but it's worth it for a tantalizing combination of sporty performance and a luxurious interior. Even the base engine offers impressive acceleration, and the A4 has one of the nicest cabins in its class. The front seats are especially well bolstered, but note that the rear is a bit cramped. One other pitfall: the multi-media interface system can make learning the interior controls difficult.
MSRP: $33,220 - $37,455
If you need the utility of an SUV but want the luxurious accommodations of a high-end sedan, the Buick Enclave is the way to go. It's a classy-looking truck with an ultra-smooth ride and whisper-quiet cabin. On top of that, the three-row seating offers plenty of room for the whole family, while the cargo area can easily swallow all of their stuff. AutoWeek reports, "With 18.9 cubic feet of cargo space available behind the third row, you can bring plenty of gear for the ride."
MSRP: $39,240 - $39,240
It's about time you felt the wind if your hair -- especially now that you no longer want to pull it out at work. With the Volvo C70, you get sporty handling, a sleek exterior and seating for four. While it's pricey for someone on a fixed income, this drop-top makes it worth your while with excellence safety scores and a dose of fun. Its especially comfortable front seats make it a great everyday cruiser. Plus, Edmunds mentions that back seat room, while small, is "still the most you'll find in an entry-level luxury convertible," and MSN says "there really is room for two adults in the back seat." Cargo space, however, is limited when the top is down.
For a closer look at these retirement rides, see our slideshow.