November 2, 2011  |  Comments
The perfect tailgating vehicle

The perfect tailgating vehicle

AutoNation loves footballEDITOR’S NOTE: The contest has ended. Congratulations to our winners: Trey Creech, Justin Grill and Steve Hamilton.

If football has overtaken baseball as America’s favorite past time, then surely tailgating is uh … a very good past time as well. Sorry for the obscure Simpsons reference.

Moving on … tailgating is very much a past time for the arm chair quarterback. It seems people remember more about their tailgating experience than the actual game itself, at least the people I hang out with.

So, what makes for a great tailgate party? Friends, food, grills, coolers, cornhole bean bag toss, tents… these are all fine items, but you need something to lug them to the game, you need a car too. But not just any car, you need one that can be the center of your entire tailgating party.

I’ve narrowed down three traits to look for when searching for the perfect tailgating vehicle: innovative storage, cargo room and entertainment.

Innovative storage

Why bring a cooler? Both the Ram 1500 and Honda Ridgeline have innovative storage space to keep your drinks cold. The Ridgeline has a lockable in-bed trunk that can act like a cooler, while the RamBox can store over 240 12-ounce cans. Need to cool more drinks, no problem. The Ram also has in-floor storage for your beverages.

Cargo room

OK, if you don’t want your car to store your drinks, you’ll need room for a cooler and everything else you’re bringing. The Ford F-150 gives you plenty of space to haul your stuff and it even has a nifty tailgate step to give you easier access to all your tailgate goodies. Worried about leaving your stuff in the back of a truck, but like the truck bench seat, then you’ll love the Mitsubishi Outlander with its flap fold tailgate. Plus the Outlander can seat 5 or 7 fans for the game.

Looking for something smaller, how about the Nissan Cube? With 58 cubic feet of space and a swing-out tailgate that has a speaker, you’ll be a hit at the next parking lot fiesta.


What’s a tailgate without any music? Pretty boring. Which is why you want a car that can blast your party anthem to the masses. Something like the new Ford Explorer which has an available 12 speaker, 390 watt Sony Audio System. Want more wattage? Then you can opt for the Jeep Grand Cherokee with an available 825 watt Harman Kardon audio system.

If you want to watch a DVD or play video games, you’ll want a screen that drops down like in the Toyota Venza. If the screen is in the head rest, you’ll have a hard time viewing it when you’re sitting behind your car.

Plus, the Chevrolet Equinox has set the entertainment bar even higher by offering Wi-Fi, so can set your fantasy line-ups on game day.

Tailgating tips

  • No matter which car you choose, here are some tips, based on my own personal experience, that can make your tailgate party the best in the lot.
  • Remember, the most important aspect of any tailgate experience: the designated driver. Please don’t drink and drive when you leave the big game.
  • If you plan on using your car’s battery to play music or run a TV, make sure to either turn your car on every once and awhile to recharge the battery and always keep a quick start battery jumper in your trunk. When the game is over, you don’t want to be the last one to leave the parking lot.
  • Always bring more propane or charcoal for your grill than you think you’ll need, especially if you plan on cooking chicken or pork.
  • Drink lots of water. You’re body will become dehydrated just from standing or sitting in the sun, even if it’s snowing.
  • Don’t forget plates, napkins, spatulas, tongs, utensils and garbage bags. I can’t count how many times I’ve forgotten the spatula and had to flip burgers with my hand. It was not fun.
  • Make sure you can lock up your coolers, tents, chairs and grills in your car. You don’t want to leave the game and find all your stuff is gone. Make sure you turn off your grill at least 20 minutes before you head in for the game. You don’t want to put a hot grill in your car.

Special offer

Tailgating coupon, expires 12/31/2011

Click image to print coupon only. To find the nearest AutoNation Service Center, click here. Offer expires December 31, 2011.

Contest announcement

Win one of three authentic NFL footballs signed by former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. Enter the contest by using the widget below. Contestants must add a comment to this blog post, answering the question, “What is your favorite tailgating activity?” Contestants may receive bonus entries for completing the additional tasks listed in the contest widget (“Like” the blog post, “Like” AutoNation on Facebook, and Follow @AutoNation on Twitter) for a maximum of four contest entries. Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. EST November 30, 2011. No purchase necessary. Click here to read full terms and conditions of the contest.

About Adam Lopez

Adam Lopez is an advertising specialist at AutoNation's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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  • Johnny Bond

    Playing flip cup with friends

  • Joseph Bell

    I love tailgating, my favorite event is playing Laddergolf, even built my own game with PVC pipe from Home Depot and was even shown live on the weather channel last year at a Bucs game for it. Took some work, I had the branding of my company I work for shaped in the base out of the PVC pipe too.
    Everyone was asking about it and now you can buy the game most anywhere cheaper than I paid for the parts to make it.

    • Lori Todd

      That sounds awesome, Joseph! We’d love to see a picture of it! You can post a photo to our Facebook page if you haven’t already. Good luck winning!

      • Joseph Bell

        I’ll get a picture but Im the one person in the world who has closed their facebook, I will email to Autonation and give them permission to post it up.

        • Lori Todd

          You can email us at :)

          • Joseph Bell

            Pictures have been sent

  • Justin Grill

    Playing Cornhole Bag Toss. I try to play that at any sport venue. Even just grilling out good beef and pork foods; burgers, brats, dogs, steaks, bbq, whatever. A friend of mine built his own cornhole boards and painted it up with the UNC Tarheels blue and white logo.

    • Joseph Bell

      Justin, you have the blueprints? I have been meaning to build this game as well but have nto gotten to it yet.

  • Beccala112

    The best tailgates happen in Jacksonville for Fl/Ga weekend!

  • Tonymon1976

    I love the food and the fans! Go Bears!

  • Adryunne Wilson

    Grilling, hands down. Beer in one hand and tongs in another. All the best, brats, burgers, ribs, cobs of corn, bananas, dogs you name it…

    It feels good when people really enjoy your food.

  • Treycreech

    favorite tailgating pastime- drinking a cold brew with my friends and tossing the ol pigskin around

  • Pingback: Win a signed Dan Marino football! | AutoNationConnect

  • Yaniel

    Eating, hands down the best part. Or maybe drinking with friends. Probably both!

  • Rob Skinner

    The best part of tailgating would be throwing around my new football signed by Dan Marino

  • James Keenan

    These are great ideas!! 
    People love tailgating as much as the actual game itself, it
    seems!!  I know I do!  I have another great idea for the serious
    tailgater.  “The Tailgater” is
    a great new piece of technology that helps the sports fan stay connected and
    entertained WHILE they are in the parking lot partying!!  It’s a portable, 10 lb mini-satellite dish
    that automatically tunes itself to find the strongest signal!!  I got it through work at DISH Network, and
    now I can hook it up to my TV and 211k receiver and get ALL the sports talk,
    pre-game conversations and live action from across the league!!  It turns my modest tailgate party into a
    Sports Spectacular!!  Take a look at the
    DISH homepage to get more info on this amazing technology!!

  • ozkar

    My favorite activity is setting with my friends and talk about the game would be like.

  • Charlotte LeBlanc

    My favorite tailgating activity is grilling our favorites foods, drinking our favorite beverage, and having fun.

  • Frank Castillo76

    It’s all about being with your friends, the game is a great background, but the fun is sharing the experience…

  • Charlotte LeBlanc

    commented, like the blog post, followed Autonation on twitter and liked them on facebook.

  • Kenwyn Harrilal

    My favorite tailgate activity is playing on our custom Florida Gator tailgate toss boards!