The football season is officially in full swing. Now Sundays (and Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays for college, and Fridays for high school) will be spent staring at the TV, checking your fantasy lineup, and, if you’re lucky enough to actually go to the game, tailgating. Ah, tailgating—there are few things better in the world than cooking hamburgers in a parking lot on a chilly autumn day. There are two essential ingredients to tailgating: good food and a good vehicle. And here we have a list of some of the best vehicles for tailgating.
So whether it’s high school, college or the NFL, these tailgating vehicles will make your football experience that much better as you watch your favorite team’s season unfold. Will the Seattle Seahawks be able to repeat? Will Johnny Manziel live up to the hype, or even start at all? Will the Patriots finally go undefeated this season? Well, no, because they lost the season opener. Yes, we are insufferable Patriots fans*. So pack up those foldable chairs, fill your built-in refrigerator, and throw on your jersey as you get ready to watch another season of football.
*Note: Not all CarGurus are insufferable Patriots fans. Some are suffering Bills fans.
10. If you want to pull up to the stadium in something a little more stylish than your typical tailgate, the Volvo XC90 is the crossover for you. It’s an extraordinarily comfortable ride, which will come in handy while sitting in the miles and miles of traffic trying to get into the stadium. The XC90 is able to seat 7, and with that comes the potential of 93.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s more than enough to carry your grill and mini fridge. And it’s a very attractive crossover—maybe not as attractive as Tom Brady, but really, what is?
9. Don’t be fooled by the Honda Fit‘s size. It has enough space to store all your food, grills and coolers. And it’s small size will allow you to easily move in, through and around traffic as you slowly merge one by one out of the parking lot. I’ve been to a game in a Honda Fit, and we were easily able to pass cars and fit between traffic cones to cut our waiting time by a large margin. I imagine the other vehicles struggling to merge were not too happy about us. But we were happy.
8. Pick-ups are the ultimate tailgaters. The Ford F-150 is probably one of the most appropriate cars to bring to a football game. It is definitively American. Its new aluminum body may prove as revolutionary a concept in automotive manufacturing as the forward pass was in football. It’s also pretty hard to beat the bed of a pickup truck when it comes to bringing a grill to a game. You may lose out on some seating, but you’ll have plenty of space to carry anything else to the game.
7. When thinking of a great vehicle to tailgate, minivans may not be the ones to jump into your mind. But they should. The Chrysler Town & Country will soon be the only passenger van left in the future Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram lineup, with the Dodge Grand Caravan (eventually) being phased out. And well, it is a great choice to bring to games. Seating, space and comfort—what more could you ask for in a tailgater? The Town & Country’s an all-around great vehicle that is as reliable as Benjarvus Green-Ellis.
6. It may be going on hiatus after this year while Honda does some major reworking of its design, but there’s no reason to put the Honda Ridgeline on hiatus from stadium parking lots. Sure, the Ridgeline may not carry the reputation of being the toughest or best-looking truck on the market (largely due to its unibody construction), but what it lacks in toughness and looks it makes up for in utility. The perfect truck for football fans and/or weekend warriors, the Ridgeline offers a comfortable ride up front for 5 passengers while allowing plenty of room in the back for grills, footballs and cornhole gear. Did we forget to mention coolers? Nope. Thanks to the Ridgeline’s large trunk (located under the bed), you’ll never need to bring a cooler again. Fill the trunk with ice, sodas and sausages, and you’ll feel like tailgate royalty.
5. The Ford Flex is a polarizing car—people either love it or hate it (think of it as the Dallas Cowboys, just with a winning record). While its looks may be suspect, Ford designers nailed a lot of important points with the Flex, making it one of our favorite tailgaters. Curious what we mean? Not only can the Flex seat 7, but it can seat 7, fit all your gear and, thanks to a built-in refrigerator, it can also keep your favorite drinks cold. Once you’re at the game, all you have to do to start the party is push a button and watch the third-row seat flip over, giving you a front-row seat to all the parking lot action. Not even Deion Sanders could get a party going that quickly.
4. The Toyota 4Runner has built a reputation for off-road prowess, but that doesn’t take away from its ability to command a parking lot. While the 4Runner is most at home tearing up the world’s toughest trails, Toyota engineers have also made sure it will be the center of attention as you prepare to watch Dont’a Hightower tear up offensive lines. Thanks to the “party mode” setting on the 4Runner’s impressive JBL audio system, the 4Runner is able to send your music to the back, with the rear-door-mounted speakers helping make sure the entire stadium will know you’ve arrived. Once you’re there, crank up the tunes and pull out your grills and coolers (which you’ll have no trouble hauling thanks to the 4Runner’s impressive cargo space), and you’ll be the life of the party.
3. At first glance, the Pontiac Aztek may look a bit like the Buffalo Bills, sad, gloomy and without great prospects. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find the truth to be much different. Oft maligned as one of the ugliest cars to hit the market in recent times, what the Aztek lacks in looks it makes up for in sheer tailgating skill. People said Doug Flutie didn’t look like much of an athlete, but he had the smarts and drive to lead the Bills to the playoffs, much the same way the Aztek’s designers had the smarts and drive to make one of the best tailgaters of modern times. Look closely at the Aztek, and you’ll see things like a built-in cooler, audio controls in the back and a tailgate designed with contoured seats and cupholders. One of the most innovative cars of its day, the Aztek was not a hot seller, but has experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity lately, which we’re going to attribute to its status as a tailgating giant (and not to some fake high-school chemistry teacher). While we’re sad to say the Aztek has gone for good, we are happy to hear the Bills are staying put in Buffalo.
2. The Honda Odyssey has perfected the tailgating formula, even if that wasn’t its intention. It has enough seats, more than enough space and a built-in vacuum cleaner. Yeah, we know it sounds like a rather ridiculous gimmick, but just think about how much that could come in handy. You’ll no longer have to worry about crumbs and dirt getting all over the back of your car. In addition to these super practical matters, the Odyssey is among the most comfortable vehicles on this list. You’ll be more comfortable in the Odyssey than the Seahawks’ lead over Denver in the Super Bowl.
1. The Ram 1500 is as sure a bet on game day as Stephen Gostkowski. Easily our top pick for tailgating, the Ram 1500 was practically built for Sundays (or Saturdays, if you live in SEC country). Thanks to the RamBox Cargo Management System, which builds in a pair of storage containers along either side of the bed, the Ram is able to carry up to 240 12-ounce cans without a cooler. Simply toss the cans in the RamBox bins, add ice and you’re set. Once you get to the stadium, you’ll also be able to stream other games while you party, thanks to Chrysler’s Uconnect wi-fi system, which creates a wireless network for you and all of your friends (within about 150 feet of the truck). While other tailgaters will be fumbling around setting up coolers, TV antennas and grills, Ram owners can simply kick back, open up the RamBox and enjoy all Sunday has to offer without breaking a sweat.
Are you ready for some football? What vehicle would you take to the game?
-jharrington and zwaller
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