10 Best Pickup Trucks for Tailgating Super Bowl LI

2017 Honda Ridgeline | Honda
2017 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

Here it comes: Super Bowl LI, the big game. This year, we have the New England Patriots, led by ageless quarterback Tom Brady, versus the Atlanta Falcons, featuring peerless wide receiver and fantasy football points machine Julio Jones. If you’re a Falcons or Pats fan, chances are you’re anxiously counting down the minutes until kickoff. But if you’re a fan of the other 30 NFL teams, chances are Sunday will be a little bittersweet. But hey, we’re in prime “there’s always next season” territory, and anything is possible — unless you’re a Bills or Browns fan. (Full disclosure: The author of this post is a Bills fan.)

So there’s a single weekend left in the NFL season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t load up the truck, call up a bunch of buddies, and high-tail it down to the parking lot one last time to watch the big game from the back of your pickup (unless, again, you’re a Bills or Browns fan. Seriously, it’s freaking cold in Cleveland and Buffalo right now).

Thanks to our friends at Vroom.com, an online car retailer, we’ve come up with a list of 10 pickups that will keep you and your friends the happiest during the big game. So grab some beers (enjoy them responsibly), some burgers (sensible bites, it’s not a race), and enjoy the 10 best trucks to for tailgating.

10. GMC Sierra Denali

GMC Sierra Denali | GMC
GMC Sierra Denali | GMC

Want a full-size pickup but don’t want to scrimp on luxury? Check out GMC’s range-topping Sierra Denali. On top of the plushest interior GM offers in its trucks, it also offers tri-mode power steps that make getting things out of the side of the bed easier, a power-sliding rear window, and available spray-on bedliner if you plan on making tailgating a regular activity.

9. GMC Canyon

GMC Canyon Denali | GMC
GMC Canyon Denali | GMC

It might be the near-identical cousin to the Chevy Colorado, but the GMC does things a little differently. On top of a different (and a little more luxurious) interior, the Canyon offers tie-downs that can be placed in 13 different spots around the bed, integrated rear bumper steps to make entry and exit out the back easier, and an available EZ-Lift tailgate to help out when you’ve got your hands full.

8. Nissan Frontier

2016 Nissan Frontier
2016 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

Nissan’s midsize pickup might be able to trace its roots back to 2004, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less capable. The Frontier’s relatively compact footprint allows drivers to navigate crowded conditions (packed parking lots), and its movable tie-town cleats can go anywhere on the in-bed Utili-track system to hold down heavy things (an oversized cooler or TV). And don’t let the short bed fool you. An optional sliding bed extender keeps it competitive with trucks of any segment.

7. Toyota Tundra

2016 Toyota Tundra
2016 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

Toyota’s full-size truck might not get the love the Big Three’s do, but it’s a plenty capable machine, especially when it come to tailgating. The bed is available in short, standard, or long sizes, and it has a locking tailgate that comes standard — a relative rarity nowadays. That makes the Tundra the ideal candidate for any number of covers and caps to keep prying eyes — and hands — away from your stuff. And if you need some extra space for supplies, the rear seats fold up to increase cargo room inside.

6. Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Hauling a TV, grill, or anything else of value? Don’t worry, the Tacoma has you covered. Not only does it have a locking bed like the bigger Tundra, but it also comes available from the factory with a tri-folding bed cover. You can leave the extension cord at home, too. There’s an electrical outlet right in the bed. 

5. Chevrolet Colorado

Chevy Colorado Z71 Off-Road
Chevy Colorado Z71 Off-Road | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Like the Patriots, Chevy’s midsize truck is something of a destiny in the making. Winning Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award in 2015 and 2016, the Colorado not only hauls more than you might expect, but also has an easily removable tailgate for when you want to open the whole bed up.

4. Chevrolet Silverado

2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71
2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71 | Chevrolet

Chevy’s full-sizer also has a few key elements that make it a tailgating machine. We love that it can be optioned with power retractable running boards for when you need to make trips to the cab. Once you’re parked, integrated steps in the rear bumper make getting in and out of the bed a breeze, too.

3. Ram 1500

Ram 1500
Ram 1500 | Dodge

If your tailgate party is family friendly, chances are you’ll have kids crawling all over your truck. If that’s the case, the Ram has a class-exclusive air suspension that can lower to make getting in and out of the bed. The fact that it comes waterproofed from the factory is a nice touch, too. And if you opt for the side-mounted Ram Boxes, you’ll have room to store extra provisions. 

2. Ford F-Series

2018 Ford F-150
2018 Ford F-150 | Ford

If you’re tailgating, there probably are more F-150s in the lot than anything else. Part of that is because Ford’s workhorse has been the best-selling vehicle in America since the early 1980s. But even the base F-150 can haul up to 3,300 pounds in the bed alone, meaning you can bring one heck of a tailgate setup with you. If you go big and opt for the heavy-duty F-350, there’s an outlet and power inverter for your TV. Plus, it’s the official truck of the NFL, so if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s probably good enough for you.

1. Honda Ridgeline

2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition
2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition | James Derek Sapienza/Autos Cheat Sheet

Sorry, Ford. You might be the sales leader and get favorite-son treatment from the NFL, but Honda’s offbeat pickup has the F-150 beat when it comes to tailgating. On top of room for five inside with rear under-seat space for supplies, the Ridgeline has in-bed lights, a power outlet, three speakers mounted inside the bed, a tailgate that swings either down or out, and a trunk that can hold an 82-quart cooler. And if you’re short a cooler, use the trunk; it has a drain plug to get rid of the melted ice after the game.