We might still be riding out an unusually warm summer, but here in New England, the phrase “winter is coming” brings with it a very specific set of feelings. No, I’m not talking about dread and despair, I’m talking about something much more positive. You see, although New England winter may earn headlines by delivering winter storms, polar vortexes, and record-setting snowfall, it never arrives before autumn foliage, apple-picking, and most importantly, football season.
Along with fantasy drafts, College GameDay, and roughly 10 to 14 Patriots victories, football season means tailgating. Barbecue, beer, and a game of two-hand touch improves any parking lot, and while you can have a successful tailgate with any number of cars, there are some specific features sure to help make the most of your Sunday. Whether you’re watching in New England or New Orleans, here are the four features to look for in your next tailgater.
Tons of Cargo Space
Listen, I know I just said you can have a fun time with all sorts of different cars, but have you ever tried to tailgate out the back of a Honda Accord? I have, and it’s not great. Even with the Accord’s impressive 15.8 cubic feet of trunk space, there’s hardly enough room for everything you want. Not to mention that pulling a grill out of a sedan isn’t exactly a graceful endeavor. No, if you want a proper tailgating car, you need something that can deliver on the storage front. Pickup trucks are an obvious choice, and the Ford F-Series has been named the official Truck of the NFL, but the 2016 Ram 1500’s Ram Boxes and the 2016 Honda Ridgeline’s in-bed trunk provide some especially creative solutions to the space dilemma. If a pickup truck is out of the question, you can always go minivan. CarGurus has reviewed a slew of 2016 minivans (and the Mercedes-Benz Metris to boot), and each one has a stowable third row providing dozens of extra cubic feet of space.
A Stereo That Can Bring the Noise
It’s November 13th, the Cowboys are at Pittsburgh, and the Redskins have been making life miserable for 9 straight weeks. Depending on your point of view, the National Football League’s decision to play games for roughly 12 hours straight every Sunday can be seen as either a blessing or a curse. If your team has an early afternoon game, there’s no conflict. Enjoy some breakfast burritos and head on into the stadium. Today, however, your Cowboys are playing at 4:25, and the ‘Skins have a 1 pm kickoff. This is when a car with a solid stereo comes into play. The absolute perfect choice here would be a 2016 Land Rover Range Rover with the optional 29-speaker Meridian sound system and HD and satellite radio, but if you’re looking for something a bit more economical, the Mitsubishi Outlander has a 710-watt, 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate stereo.
“It’s all fun and games until someone has to clean the car.” While that closer’s not quite as dramatic as “loses an eye,” the fact remains that tailgates, like any party, really start to lose their luster when the time comes to pack up the car and go back to living with it on your daily commute. When you have a carload of football fans clawing through your car to turn up the stereo or grab more burgers or find the tongs, chances are things are going to get pretty messy inside. Cars like the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are appealing, thanks to their spray-out interiors, as are the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica, each of which has a built-in vacuum cleaner.
Plenty of Juice and Connectivity
Finally, there are 32 teams playing on any given Sunday, so a good tailgating car should keep you connected. Whether it’s simply keeping your devices charged or hooked to the Internet, you’re going to want a car that won’t leave you in the dark. USB ports, three-prong electrical outlets, and 4G Internet connectivity abound in today’s new-car market, but only a few new vehicles can deliver everything we want in a tailgater. The Honda Ridgeline includes an electrical socket in the bed, and the Chrysler Pacifica adds 6 USB ports. Both offer bountiful cargo space and a plethora of connectivity options. Their great stereos will keep the games on full blast, and they’re easy to keep clean thanks to their composite bedliner and built-in vacuum, respectively. If you’re a football fan in the market for a new car, you can’t go wrong with either choice.
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Used Ford F-150
Used Ram 1500
Used Honda Ridgeline
Used Mercedes-Benz Metris
Used Land Rover Range Rover
Used Mitsubishi Outlander
Used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Used Honda Odyssey
Used Chrysler Pacifica