Football. “Adult beverages.” Tailgating.
It’s one of America’s pastimes. If you’re a fan of any sport, you know how enjoyable it can be hanging out in the stadium’s parking lot before the game. You can grill some hot dogs, play some catch, and jam out to some music. Of course, none of this would be possible without the perfect tailgating vehicle, and what’s a better option than a pickup truck?
We’ve found four of our favorite tailgating pickups, whether it be used Chevy trucks or even a Honda. The football season may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for next year. Plus, you can try out your truck’s capabilities before the fall hits. Visit a baseball park, or maybe you want to tailgate before a playoff hockey or basketball game. Heck, go to a high school track meet (although, they might not be so keen on the “adult beverages”)…
Chevy’s since-retired truck is the perfect option for tailgating. While there are several factors that play a role in this sentiment, we’re mostly focusing on the truck’s incredible truck bed. The Avalanches was the first pickup to included storage containers in the bed-sides, and we know how helpful those areas can be for storing beverages and ice.
Meanwhile, the drop-down midgate opens up the entire bed, giving you a perfect place to serve your food or set up a speaker system. Plus, you’ll easily be able to access the pickup’s interior, giving you an opportunity to manipulate the stereo system.
Our favorite suggestion for the Avalanche comes via Mark Williams of PickupTrucks.com. The writer suggests using the lock-in hard bed cover to create a second row for your tailgating party. The cover is sturdy enough to hold multiple occupants, and you’ll look like the king of the tailgate as you look down at all of the other partiers.
If you want a five-year-old Avalanche, expect to pay upwards of $25,000. Of course, this is the higher-end price, so the higher the mileage, the better the deal.
When Russ Heaps of BankRate.com took a look at his favorite tailgating vehicles, he used cargo capacity, seating, convenience, and tailgating-centric features as determining factors. That instantly made the Honda Ridgeline a logical choice.
The 2009 model offered adequate passenger (five occupants) and cargo room (rear-seat could flip for more room), but the Ridgeline is the perfect tailgating truck due to the convenience and features.
If you’re looking to serve a smorgasbord of food, it can be difficult to find a reasonable area. The truck bed makes sense, but it’s not particularly easy to access. With the ability to flip down the side tailgate on the Ridgeline, you can make your truck bed into a buffet counter. Plus, you don’t have to make room for drinks, as the in-bed trunk can fit a 72-quart cooler (or, as Heaps points out, you can just fill the trunk with ice and drinks, and then clear it via the drain plug).
With all of the features included in the Ridgeline, you might be inclined to stay in the parking lot for the entire game. The six speakers certainly provide an adequate sound experience, but the 12-volt power outlets found on the front and the rear means you can truly have a rocking party.
High-mileage Ridgeline’s sell for around $10,000 to $15,000, and the value never gets much higher than $20,000 for Honda’s with less than 60,000 compiled miles.
Dodge Ram Crew Cab SLT
Heaps specifically looks at the 2009 version of this redesigned classic, praising the vehicle for its abundance of cargo room. While the interior doesn’t hold a whole lot of room, the rear seats can be folded to hold additional cargo. There’s also an in-floor cargo area that can (according to the writer) hold a 10-pack of 12-ounce beers.
Of course, if your Ram is equipped with the RamBox cargo management system, you won’t have any issues storing all of your refreshments. With 4.3-cubic-feet of storage room, you can easily store 10 cases of beverages, and the “weatherproof, lockable, illuminated and drainable” assures that the area will never get messy or (god forbid) broken into.
Of course, there’s also a pickup bed divider, meaning you can easily separate the children drinks from the adult beverages.
Best of all, the 115-volt auxiliary power outlet means you can connect any stereo system, or you can just simply utilize your pickup’s surround-sound audio system.
While this is all well and good, would you really want to sit in a pickup as you wait in traffic after the game? This isn’t an issue in the Ram, as the vehicle can comfortably fit six occupants. Plus, if you get an extra bit of driving room, you’ll be able to take full advantage of that opening with the 310-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 or 390-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 HEMI engine.
These specific Rams are relatively affordable on the used market. Pickups with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer sell for south of $20,000, and you’ll obviously have to dish out some extra money for a lower-mileage ride.
Kelley Blue Book also got in on the fun, as they listed their list of the best tailgating vehicles. The Ford F150 was a natural inclusion due to its “ultimate tailgate.” The truck bed offers an abundance of room, allowing you to use the area for storage and serving. While other trucks prove to be rather inaccessible due to their height, the F150’s deployable step allows any tailgater to easily walk into the truck bed.
Of course, after the football game, you’re going to be looking to get home as soon as possible. The 360 horsepower V8 engine certainly provides you with enough power to get home quickly, and the 17 city/23 highway mile per gallon efficiency means you won’t have to keep stopping to refill your tank.
One fan truly took their F-150 to the extreme, opting for the Galpin Tailgate Party Truck. As Raphael Orlove of Jalopnik.com writes, the special edition Ford cost $75,000, but it proved to be the perfect companion for the stadium parking lot. The pickup features a full BBQ grill, multiple ice chests, a blender, running water, a pair of beer taps, and a 37-inch television. That sounds like it’s worth the investment to us.
If you want just the standard F150, expect to pay significantly less. KBB.com used a 2012 model as the basis, a truck that typically sells for around $20,000.
There are plenty of options for you to choose from, and each of the trucks offers everything we’d seek in a tailgating vehicle: plenty of interior space for the ride home, a roomy truck bed for storing drinks and food, and enough technology to keep everybody entertained.
Of course, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest targeting a vehicle solely for it’s tailgating features. Luckily, the pickups mentioned above are all perfectly capable rides, providing commendable horsepower and solid fuel economy. The fact that these rides are also the perfect tailgating rides? Well, that’s just the cherry on top of that “adult beverage.”