DETROIT (WWJ) - With college football and the NFL season on the horizon, fans will soon be flocking to stadiums around the country to not only cheer for their favorite team, but to pre-game party in the parking lot.
With this national pastime upon us, the editors of Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com pooled their collective wisdom to choose from all of the new 2012 cars for sale with tailgating-friendly features such as: large, drainable in-vehicle coolers; a variety of in-car connectivity features; in-vehicle refrigerators; power liftgates; off-roading capabilities; flexible seating arrangements; and of course, an array of impressive sound systems. In addition, many of the cars on this year’s list offer fold-down tailgates.
“Pick up some friends, stop by the store, park near a stadium and you’ve got yourself a tailgate party. But just as the right food and drink can elevate the experience, so too can the right car,” Jack R. Nerad, kbb.com’s executive editorial director, said in a release.
“In choosing this year’s Best Tailgating Cars, the kbb.com editors vetted our favorite vehicle features for parking-lot party fun and came up with a list of 10 vehicles that are sure to delight pigskin fans across America.”
Kbb.com’s 10 Best Tailgating Cars Of 2012
10. 2012 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Whether your tailgating destination is far beyond civilization or you just want to be the center of attention, the G-Wagen is a great call. This ultimate SUV has extreme off-road features like three locking differentials to climb frightfully steep slopes, yet is loaded with customary Mercedes-Benz amenities to coddle you along the way plus a swing-open rear door for easy access to all your tailgate essentials.
9. 2012 Kia Soul
Hamsters. Dancing Hamsters. The advertising message couldn’t be clearer: the Kia soul is here to rock the party. Fine, but with all that attitude does the Soul have room to bring the bratwursts? We’d say 19 cubic feet of cargo room should cover it. The Kia Soul can also handle the entertainment via an optional 350-watt Infinity audio system featuring speaker surrounds that flash in sync with the music.
8. 2013 Mazda CX-5
Stuffing your face outside a stadium in anticipation of watching athletes exercise is the staple pastime of diehard sports fans around the country. But stocking enough tailgating provisions to satisfy your friends and family can cost a bundle. Luckily, the Mazda CX-5 is the most fuel-efficient SUV available, leaving you with extra cash for that indispensable novelty foam hand.
7. 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander
When it comes to tailgating cars, the Mitsubishi Outlander might not seem like the primary candidate for a draft pick, but it sure knows how to play the game. With seating for up to 7, an available Rockford Fosgate sound system and flap-down tailgate that’s not only ideal for loading and unloading supplies but offers seating in a pinch, the Outlander is a little less Rudy and a little more Andrew Luck.
6. 2012 Toyota 4Runner
Meticulously engineered for the most demanding off-road situations, but also ready to party at a moment’s notice, the Toyota 4Runner is the automotive equivalent of the tuxedo t-shirt. Judging by its available sliding rear cargo deck and “Party Mode” equalizer that focuses sound output to the liftgate speakers, we’d say that the 4Runner has won the fight for its right to party.
5. 2012 Ford Flex
With an available built-in refrigerator and third-row seats that can flip to face rearward when the rear hatch is raised, the Ford Flex is a friend to tailgaters, drive-in movie fans and lakeside fishermen alike. When loaded with the 12-speaker, 390-watt Sony audio system, this 7-passenger crossover can further flex its ability to entertain.
4. 2012 GMC Yukon
Aimed at fans looking to arrive in style and then relax in elegant comfort, the GMC Yukon Denali — and its Denali Hybrid sibling — bring a touch of class to any stadium parking lot. Richly appointed, this ultimate Yukon variant boasts a Bose premium audio system and remote power liftgate as well as bountiful space for up to eight people and all of their pre-event gear.
3. 2012 Honda Ridgeline
Function over form is the Honda Ridgeline’s forte, with tailgating value that far exceeds its visual appeal. For starters, there’s a drainable in-bed trunk that can be loaded with ice and used as a cooler. And its clever tailgate can swing out for easy access to the bed area or flip down for convenient seating.
2. 2012 Ford F-150
When seeking the ultimate tailgating vehicle why not choose one with the ultimate tailgate. Whether you use its bed for weenie and drink storage or as a mobile lounge, climbing aboard the Ford F-150′s party section is easy thanks to an optional deployable step cleverly hidden within the tailgate. And the best-selling vehicle in the country is often the most popular truck in the parking lot, making the F-150 a terrific tailgating icebreaker.
1. 2012 RAM 1500
The top tailgater for this season is the 2012 RAM 1500 pickup. This ultimate party animal complements a gear-friendly full-size bed with an optional Cargo Box Management system that offers a pair of lockable, waterproof stow spaces for up to 240 cans of your favorite beverages. Adding even more pre-game appeal are removable underfloor bins, UConnect Wi-Fi system and a 506-watt Alpine premium audio package.