Unless you’re 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. To question it is simply un-American. So in the interest of a national tradition, here are the best cars for tailgating this fall.
MSRP: $17,795 - $24,550
What better way to celebrate an all-American sport than with a Patriot? Designed for rough and tumble off-road adventures, this Jeep can take a hit and still charge into the end zone. But it can party too. Its optional nine-speaker, 368-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.
MSRP: $20,525 - $25,585
Not surprisingly, the vehicle that brings a back-to-basics utilitarian design to the stadium lot is called the Element. It features loads of cargo space, 64 seating configurations 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 clamshell tailgate that can provide coverage from rain 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.
MSRP: $20,610 - $42,650
The original tailgater's ride, the Dodge Ram's comes equipped with an exterior storage box that can fit up to 240 cans of your beverage of choice, (milk and apple juice, right?) plus ice. It even features a drain for easy cleaning and a light for late-night partying. The in-bed storage box even locks to keep your stash safe from would be thieves while you’re enjoying the big game. Not impressed? Check out the Honda Ridgeline, which features 8.5 cubic feet of trunk space under the bed, complete with a drainage system so it can double as a giant cooler or even a mini hot tub.
MSRP: $25,175 - $35,060
For the true 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 rear DVD entertainment system and Ford Flex's rear console refrigerator.
MSRP: $59,645 - $73,345
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 blitz. Combine that with the high-end luxuries that only a Land Rover can provide, and it’s easy to see why the Range Rover Sport is so appealing.