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Published September 02, 2022
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—tailgating season! Time spent at your favorite game-day venue in cooler temps, surrounded by friends and family, and eating the best snacks before taking in all the action on the field, right?
How you get to your happy place—the stadium, arena, or wherever—is just as important as who and what you bring to the big game. Yes, we’re talking about the best tailgating vehicles.
If you don’t have your party wagon yet, you may be wondering what to look for when it comes to what makes a great tailgating car. Let’s take a closer look.
First of all, size. You’ll need a vehicle with space for passengers to ride comfortably to the game and a big cargo hold for all those tailgating essentials like food, beverages, grill, chairs, and maybe even a TV or two. You’ll want a car that makes it easy to load up all the gear as well, so look at SUVs with a low cargo floor or a pickup truck with a step stair.
You should also consider tech. Are there outlets to plug in the TV or slow cooker? Does the vehicle have wireless charging so passengers can charge their phones or tablets and not miss a minute of the action? Can you power the party songs without draining the car’s battery?
To win the tailgate, you’ll need to bring A LOT of stuff to the party. You may need to pack everything up into a trailer and tow it to the game, so consider the towing capacity of your tailgater.
Then there are the extras, like the Honda Ridgeline’s underfloor storage that becomes a drainable cooler, or the Toyota 4Runner’s “Party Mode” to boost the bass and volume of your pre-game soundtrack.
The cars on our list score extra points for passenger and cargo space, great infotainment systems, and extras like handy tailgates, underfloor storage, and add-on accessories you didn’t know you needed but can’t live without when it comes to parking lot parties.
Truck-bed audio, anyone? Every RTL-E and higher trim level for the Honda Ridgeline comes with truck-bed audio powered by six in-bed drivers that use the bed as a speaker. No need to take up room in your truck with external speakers. When the truck is turned off, the in-bed speakers turn on, even with the ignition switch off.
Store valuables in the Ridgeline’s lockable, in-bed storage when you head into the stadium. Or, if you’re keeping the party in the parking lot, turn that in-bed storage into a beverage cooler. Just add ice and your favorite drinks, then pull the plug to drain after the game.
Talk about accessorizing. The Ford Bronco has more than 200 factory-backed accessories to customize this 4x4—the most ever launched with a Ford.
Listen to the game or pump up the pre-game jams with the Bluetooth-connected JLB soundbar. You can even take your furry friends to the tailgate party with the portable Thule pet carrier and separate harnesses.
And when properly equipped, the Bronco can tow up to 3,500 pounds, so bring the smoker to make your famous wings or the whole patio set to sit in comfort during the game. Set out the game-day buffet on the load-bearing slide-out tailgate.
Love to bring all the audio/visual and cooking gadgets to the stadium for the best game day? The Ford F-150’s Pro Power Onboard system in the bed acts as a generator. Plug in phones, a flat screen TV, and a slow cooker for your favorite game-day delicacies.
The F-150 also has a tailgate step that makes loading and unloading gear quick and easy. And tow whatever you need to the parking lot—the F-150 has the best towing capabilities in its class. Available LED lights integrated into the bed keep the party going for night games.
Not too big, not too small, just right for maneuvering tight parking spaces and lots. When you’re not venturing out into the wild in the Subaru Outback, it’ll do just fine as a city slicking party wagon at the next home game.
The Outback boasts a low, wide cargo floor, so pack up the cooler, chairs, food, and beverages with room to spare for four to five passengers as well. The low cargo floor makes it easy to load and unload all your game-day gear. For cold climates, that AWD will come in handy if the game-day forecast includes snow.
The Toyota 4Runner’s versatility makes it a great adventure vehicle, whether you’re off-roading one weekend or heading downtown to the stadium the next.
The 4Runner includes 89.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded down, so no tailgating essentials get left behind. The Trail Special Edition includes a sliding rear cargo deck and a Toyota branded cooler with tie down straps. The little trays over the wheel well bumps make the perfect spot for snacks.
Plus, the 4Runner even has a literal Party Mode that shifts the sound system’s output to the liftgate speakers to keep everyone entertained with party jams.
Bring the boom to the tailgate party with an Alpine audio system when you pull up in the Jeep Wrangler.
Doing some parking lot grilling? Open the Wrangler’s swinging tailgate featuring the Mopar tray accessory that can hold all your cooking essentials. Store food in the underfloor cargo hold and charge your phone and other devices with two available outlets in the back.
Someone spill their beer or cheese dip? Don’t worry about party fouls, as cleanup is easy with a Wrangler. Remove the weather-resistant carpet, hose everything down, and let it drain through the one-way floor valves.
Have a whole family of superfans? Load everyone up in Chevy’s people hauler, the Suburban.
There’s plenty of space for everyone to stretch out and enjoy the party in comfort. While you drive, the rear seat passengers can check out all the pregame commentary on two interactive screens with Chevrolet’s Rear Seat Media System.
If you’re not taxiing everyone to the game, pack up your tailgating gear into the back with the seats folded down—there’s a whopping 144.7 cubic feet of space to bring everything you need. When you get to the stadium, plug in the flat screen in one of two available outlets for up to 400 watts of power. Game on!
Love to bring all your friends and gear to the stadium on weekends? We can help you find the best used truck or SUV to host those parking lot parties. And no penalty calls here—if you don’t love the car you bought, you can return it for a refund of the purchase price with our 7-Day Money Back Guarantee.