So long as you're not from some shantytown five miles south of Podunk, parking lots don't usually call to mind the thought of babes, beer, barbeque, and good ol' American fun -- unless, of course, it's football season.
For seventeen weeks each year, die-hard fans transform stadium lots to pre-game blowouts -- grilling beef, bonding with strangers, and tossing the pigskin. In fact, over the years tailgating has become every much a part of football as the goalposts themselves. To question it is simply un-American. So in the interest of a national tradition, here are the best cars for tailgating this fall.
What better way to celebrate an all-American sport than with the Patriot? Designed for the rough and tumble of off-road adventures, this Jeep can take a hit and still charge into the end zone. But it can party too. Its nine-speaker, 458-watt Boston Acoustics sound system makes sure of that. With two flip-down liftgate speakers, you can pop the hatch and blast your team's fight song for everyone in the lot to enjoy. The slightly smaller Dodge Caliber also features swingout liftgate speakers, with the added bonus of a beverage cooler over the glovebox.
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Real football fans support their team rain or shine. That's why the luxurious Range Rover Sport comes equipped with a clamshell tailgate -- where the bottom folds down to serve as a seat and the top folds up to keep your head from getting wet. With this feature, fanatics can finally party in the rain without fear of their face paint running. What's more, drivers can opt for a center console cooler that can hold up to four eight-ounce bottles of beer -- just enough for a pre-game buzz.
Not surprisingly, the vehicle that brings a back-to-basics utilitarian design to the stadium lot is called the Element. It features best-in-class cargo space, versatile seating, and a tailgate that can support the weight of William "The Fridge" Perry holding a cooler of ice -- and that's just to start. Also standard on the Element is a retractable top and wide-opening suicide doors, which give tailgaters the feeling that they're in a parking lot camper. The only catch is that you can't park too closely to other tailgaters if you want to keep the doors open.
The original tailgater's ride, the pickup truck, gets a long overdue upgrade with Dodge Ram's exterior storage box. Equipped with a light for nighttime usage and lock to keep its contents safe, it's the perfect place for storing pre- and post-game drinks -- especially since it's got a drain at the bottom too. Not impressed? Check out the Honda Ridgeline, which features 8.5 cubic feet of trunk space complete with a drainage system so it can double as a giant cooler or even a mini hot tub.
Volkswagen Touareg 2
While most utility vehicles offer an auxiliary power outlet, few do so as well as the Touareg 2. With two in the front, one in the center, and three in the rear (12V and 115V), the Touareg 2 makes it easy to power your TV, Foreman Grill, and beard trimmer (to shave "Go Skins" onto your buddy's back) all at the same time. Just remember to pack jumper cables, or even a new battery -- as you're bound to suck your old one dry.
Chrysler Town & Country
For the truly hardcore, the Town & Country offers Swivel ‘n Go seating, which -- with the help of a removable center table -- transforms this minivan's cabin into a living room on wheels. Perfect for a friendly game of poker or a place for the kids to play while you and the Mrs. knock back a few, Chrysler brings the comfort of home to the parking lot. For even more creature comforts, check out the Honda Odyssey's Lazy Susan and Ford Flex's rear console refrigerator.