Music, libations, and food, when combined with the right vehicle, make for one of the true American traditions — the tailgate party. With football season gearing up for its 2013-2014 debut just around the corner, Edmunds has made up a list of its top picks for ideal tailgating vehicles, all of which feature — well, a tailgate.
The publication points out just how diverse the list is, ranging from the value-oriented Kia Soul to the pricey and luxurious Range Rover. However, whether its the youth-geared Scion xB, or the high-end Mercedes E-Class wagon, each checks all the needed boxes to perform admirably at your next parking lot shindig.
Here are the top ten picks from Edmunds, arranged alphabetically.
1. Ford Flex
Three rows of seating and a voluminous cabin aside, the Ford Flex’s true party piece is the built in refrigerator for keeping beverages cool. Moreover, the third row seats fold over — just push a button — to become a rear-facing party bench.
2. Honda Ridgeline
Trucks, Edmunds points out, were purpose-built for tailgating. While that may be an ideal side-effect, trucks do offer the ultimate tailgating experience. The Honda’s bed allows for ample seating, and the Ridgeline also features a storage compartment hidden within the bed for storing extra goods.
3. Kia Soul
While one of the smallest options on the list, the Kia Soul also comes with one of the smallest price tags. However, the compact utility vehicle offers the necessary boxy appearance, while an “upgraded eight-speaker Infinity sound system offers crisp sound quality and tricolor speaker lights that flash to the beat of the music.” Now it’s a party.
4. Land Rover Range Rover
On the other end of the spectrum is Land Rover’s Range Rover, which would look more in place at a polo match or horserace than an NFL game. If you were impressed by Kia’s eight speaker system, the Range Rover has 29 — more than ample audio (825 watts) to inform everyone in the area that the real party is. The downside? That system will run over $1,800.
5. Lincoln MKT
Like the Flex, the Lincoln MKT also features a rear-flipping third row seat, only wrapped in a more luxurious suit. It too has the built-in fridge option, so if you like the idea of the Flex but are looking for more of a suave approach to tailgating, the MKT might be the right vehicle.
6. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
“This gorgeous, fun-to-drive wagon is a perfect choice for the well-heeled tailgater,” Edmunds states, though aside from the rear-facing third row, its advantage over other station wagons was a bit lost on us too. However, there’s no denying that Mercedes-Benz makes a quality car and its generous cargo room will certainly meet the needs of most tailgate-party-goers.
7. Mitsubishi Outlander
With a tailgate capable of supporting 440 pounds, the Mitsubishi Outlander can hold up well to the rigors of a parking lot party. The car is also available with digital music storage, as well as a high quality sound system, but at prices far lower than the higher-end SUVs.
8. Ram 1500
Aside from the usual perks that pickups offer tailgaters, the Ram (FIATY.PK) offers additional (albeit optional) storage space in a lockable compartment located over rear fenders inside the truck bed. In the Crew Cab and Quad Cab versions, there’s even more space located beneath the floor for packing all of the ‘recreational beverages’.
9. Scion xB
Small, affordable, but boasting a sizable and spacious aft area, the Scion xB also comes equipped with a healthy Pioneer sound system, though one can opt for the BeSpoke Premium Audio upgrade (also by Pioneer), which includes smartphone app integration for services like Pandora radio.
10. Toyota 4Runner
Lastly, Toyota’s 4Runner SUV. For the times that you’re not bringing it off-road, the 4Runner is an ideal tailgating vehicle. It even comes with a designated Party Mode, “that shifts the sound system’s output to the liftgate speakers so that your tunes can be easily heard at tailgate parties,” Edmunds says.