Elevate your tailgate game with these mobile party platforms.
What are the best tailgating vehicles for football games and concerts? Why, the ones that help you to have the most fun possible, of course!
Don’t be a parking lot pariah at your favorite big game — check out these cars, trucks, and SUVs on the list below. They’re all quite well-adapted for tailgate party duty.
This list is based on suggestions from our heavy-tailgating CarMax associates, plus available CarMax inventory.
Pickup trucks are a really smart call for tailgate parties. Lots of cargo-hauling capability (Food! A large charcoal grill! Picnic tables and chairs!), plus space up front for five or even six tailgaters.
Some Ram pickups, like the 2015 Ram 1500, have available lockable tool and storage bins built into their bedsides. These RamBox® lockers have drain plugs, which makes them perfect for duty as coolers you can fill with ice. No need to carry a separate cooler!
Yes, the Honda Fit. Have you seen the interior of these compact cars, and how the rear seats fold completely flat? With the seats down in a 2016 Honda Fit EX, you’ve got 52.7 cubic feet of space for your tailgating gear. That’s a lot of packable space for a car that’s barely over 13 feet long.
The 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT comes fully kitted out for tailgating. The second row captain’s chairs fold flat and drop into the floor — either one at a time or both together — to give you lots of packable cargo space.
If we had to pick a favorite feature of this 2017 Grand Caravan model, it’s the back-flippable third-row seating. Pull the tabs on the seat backs and the 60/40, 3rd row seat folds down into stadium-seating format so you can sit inside and still be a part of the action.
For your next off-road-access-only tailgate party, there’s the Jeep Wrangler. A Jeep like the four-wheel-drive 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport lets you take your show on the (wild side of the) road. There’s 31.5 cubic feet of cargo area in this model, which isn’t a huge amount of space, but you’ll be able to get there no matter what the road conditions. Hook up a trailer for extra party gear and this rig can tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.2 For flat-out fun, it’s hard to beat a Jeep.
Late-model Fords like the 2017 Ford F-150 give you a mess of space to pack up your tailgate party gear. The 2018 models offer an eight-inch center console screen and available Sync® Connect, so you can watch game highlights and replays via an available mobile hotspot (depending on your smart device).1
The 2012 Ford F-150 Lariat above comes equipped with a step ladder in its tailgate, so you can on-load and offload your camp chairs and coolers more easily.
Here’s another pickup sports utility vehicle with an onboard, in-bed food and beverage cooler. Drop the tailgate on a 2017 Honda Ridgeline RTL (or swing it away on its side hinges, since the Ridgeline tailgate does both), and you’ll see a separate, under-the-bed compartment that’s perfect for loading with ice and transporting your tailgate party burgers and drinks. After the party, pull the plug at the bottom and drain the cooler!
The barndoor Mini Clubman hasn’t been turned out in this body style for a while, but we still see these cars on our lots, and we love how they give you lots of access to your gear.
The 2011 Mini Clubman is cheeky, with an efficient 1.6L engine that’s good for an estimated 27 city mpg and 34 highway mpg with a six-speed manual transmission.3 That can mean making the scene at lots of tailgate parties before you need to refuel.
The Ford Flex is a tailgating vehicle that stands out from all the other 3-row crossover SUVs in any stadium parking lot. It’s got a unique, boxy style, with seating for up to seven passengers in a bright, airy cabin (thanks to optional, three sunroof panels).
The 2017 Ford Flex Limited has an available refrigerated console unit between the second row captains’ chairs to keep your party beverages cool. The captains’ chairs are powered, and you can fold them flat at the touch of a button. Release the third row seat tethers so the 3rd row folds flat too, and you’ve got plenty of room (more than 80 cubic feet!) to stow gear for your tailgate party.
The Flex third-row seating also flips over, just like the Grand Caravan above, to turn into parking-lot-facing seats.
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is one serious tailgating machine. Look at the 110-volt plug ports available in the dash and rear cargo area — they’re great for hooking up cooling fans in a hot parking lot or large-screen TVs for screening your favorite game in high-definition.
Also check out this model’s available 13-speaker Harmon-Kardon® audio system — just the setup for pumping out school fight songs and tailgate party jams.
And when the party’s over, switch on the available onboard vacuum cleaner before the coin toss to make quick work of the cleanup. Then just tap the hands-free sliding side doors to close up and you’re off to the big game!
We hope this helps as you plan your own party end zone for football tailgating. For more ideas, check out these resources:
- Best SUVs with 3 Rows of Seats to get your family to the game
- Best Midsize SUVs for caravanning the whole gang to the concert
- Best Full-Size Trucks to carry gobs of gear to your tailgate or campout
- Best Used Cars
1 Requires smartphone and data service. Normal cellular service rates will apply.
2 Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
3 Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.