Ford F-150

Is it a surprise to learn Ford F-150 pickup is the No. 1 automotive purchase by boomers? With so many of that generation still working — or playing at working, or just plain playing — the versatile F-150 makes sense. Available in any trim, from a rubber-matted beast of burden to a luxury boat-hauler, the F-150 has the widest range and best executed interiors of all full-size pickups. In 4x2 guise, its friendly ride height and large doors pose no terrors to tired bodies, easing daily duties. Ford also offers three compelling engine choices, especially the impossibly strong combination of power and fuel economy that is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. The mind-boggling 52 trims start at $23,300.

Find: Fuel-Efficient Towing Machines

Subaru Outback

If there is a single vehicular niche aimed at boomers, the gentrified "tall wagons" exemplified by the Honda Crosstour, the hip Ford Flex and the Subaru Outback are it. Here is a combination of daily practicality and all-wheel-drive weekend exploring that's infused with a techno vibe irresistible to early-adopting boomers. The Outback has been lightly updated this year. Its raised ride height and carlike seating are a welcome combination to worn knees, and its wagon body makes carrying stuff to the grandkids a snap. A new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine gives a touch more power and delivers fuel economy of 26 mpg combined. Pricing starts at $24,070.

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Toyota Yaris

When gas gets expensive, Americans rush for the roller skates, and boomers lead the way. The subcompact $14,115 Yaris, along with the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Versa, saw double-digit percentage growth from buyers 45 and older during the latest gas-price surge, and we expect the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and other supposedly youth-oriented value cars to see plenty of action from boomer buyers, too. Obviously, low cost is the major draw for these cars, but they also make sense to boomers dealing with steadily increasing urban traffic congestion.

Bolstering this sales growth is the rapid rise in small-car quality and features. Redesigned for 2012, the Toyota Yaris boasts amenities including optional 6-way power seats, Bluetooth, remote keyless entry, leather-trimmed steering wheels and satellite radio. Huge doors and easy step-in and loading heights are boomer naturals, too.

Watch Video:  2012 Toyota Yaris

Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundreds of freelance articles.

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