Unless it's pouring rain or icy cold, just about any weather is right for tailgate parties. For the uninitiated, this all-American tradition consists of indulging in music, food and adult beverages from the back of a parked vehicle, usually in the parking lot of a stadium or arena prior to or after a sports game or concert. Attendees at these events are said to be tailgating. You'll probably need brewskis and brats, but you'll also need a vehicle with features that are amenable to the tailgating lifestyle.
Top 10 Best Tailgating Vehicles for 2013
This means, first and foremost, a tailgate. And there are other features — such as extra storage, rear-facing seats and an impressive sound system — that can work to sweeten the experience.
The 10 picks shown below are our favorite vehicles for tailgating. The lineup is diverse. There's a pricey Land Rover Range Rover for the luxury tailgater, a Kia Soul for the tailgater on a budget and a Ford Flex with a built-in refrigerator that's perfect for keeping beers cool on warm summer nights. Pickups are tailor-made for tailgating and the Honda Ridgeline and the Ram 1500 made the cut. Our selections are listed in alphabetical order.
Ford's boxy, eye-catching Flex is available with a refrigerated compartment that works to keep beverages cool. It's an amenity that's uniquely handy for tailgaters. Additionally, the Flex's third row is available with a tailgating feature that allows these seats to flip over and face rearward at the touch of a button.
With the tailgate extended, the Ridgeline's bed is big enough to provide comfortable seating. Best of all, there's an in-floor storage locker in the truck bed that you can use to tote extra six-packs of your favorite expensive microbrew.
Kia's affordable Soul makes it clear that the practical choice can also be the fun one. Its upright, boxy dimensions are useful for tailgating, and it's available with an upgraded eight-speaker Infinity sound system that offers crisp sound quality and tricolor speaker lights that flash to the beat of the music.
Redesigned for 2013, the Range Rover does it all in elegance and style, from off-roading to city cruising to tailgating. In addition to all the luxury you'd expect from a Range Rover, it's available with a 29-speaker Meridian sound system with simulated 3D surround-sound technology that's sure to get bodies swaying to the beat at any tailgate party.
Lincoln's upscale, sleek-looking MKT features a third row with seats that flip over to face the rear of the car, which makes them perfect for tailgating. A refrigerated compartment is also available to keep your drinks frosty.
In its wagon configuration, the E-Class features ample cargo capacity and a rear-facing third-row seat so you can take in all the action. This gorgeous, fun-to-drive wagon is a perfect choice for the well-heeled tailgater.
The Outlander's tailgate is sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of any tailgate party, since it's capable of supporting up to 440 pounds. Another plus is that it's available with digital music storage and a high-quality sound system.
You won't run out of storage space for tailgating with the Ram 1500. It's available with an optional RamBox feature: a lockable compartment located over rear fenders inside the truck bed. Crew Cab and Quad Cab versions also come with additional storage under the floor. And of course, its truck bed is spacious enough to provide seating for you and your friends.
The xB's capacious rear end is well-suited for tailgating. But this Scion's biggest strength is its sound system. The base Pioneer sound system is plenty impressive, although hard-core audiophiles will want to opt for the sweet-sounding optional BeSpoke Premium Audio upgrade (also by Pioneer), which includes smartphone app integration for services like Pandora radio.
The 4Runner may perhaps be best known for its ability to handle tough off-road situations but it's also up for the challenge of tailgating. It's available with a Party Mode feature that shifts the sound system's output to the liftgate speakers so that your tunes can be easily heard at tailgate parties.