As with many sports, tailgating is about endurance; it’s often an all-day affair starting at the crack of dawn with barbecue preparations, and goes all the way through the game (or race) with a post-victory celebration and, less fun, trash runs and cleanup duty. Cars.com’s Top 10 Features for Tailgating will help keep your pre-, during- and post-game party hopping.
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1. Locking RamBox
How do built-in bins with enough space for more than 200 cans sound? Tasty, I know. RamBox, available on Ram light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks, saddles two massive bins on each side of the truck bed. The RamBox is lockable with the remote key fob to keep poachers from stealing your goods while you watch the main event.
2. Household Power Outlet
Two- or three-pronged household outlets are fairly easy to find in SUVs, trucks and minivans, especially those with rear-entertainment systems. You’ll see no shortage of flat-screen TVs walking through a crowded tailgating parking lot. Having the appropriate power outlet inside your tailgating vehicle makes hooking up a TV, blender or stereo a breeze. Be sure to check the power ratings of the outlet as some don’t have enough juice to power a larger TV. In that case, pick a truck like the Toyota Tacoma with optional 115-volt, 400-watt outlets to handle an assortment of powerful tailgating electrical devices.
3. Rear Entertainment System
Yank “Frozen” from your car’s DVD player and instead plug your PlayStation/Xbox into the rear entertainment system for some pre-game pump-up on “Madden 19” or on a classic game such as “ESPN NFL 2K5.” Modern rear entertainment systems, like the ones found in many minivans, can include a high-quality Blu-ray screen and HDMI connector to stream various sporting apps or video feeds from a tablet or mobile device.
4. Rear-Facing Tailgate Seat
With the party happening at the rear of the vehicle, rear-facing tailgate seats like in the Dodge Grand Caravan and Ford Flex provide a great view of the action off the field. These third rows pivot backward and are prime real estate.
5. In-Car Wireless Internet
Though earlier systems proved weak and more of a gimmick, in-car wireless systems are heading in the right direction with 4G LTE speeds being tapped and transmitted into in-car hot spots. Roof-mounted antennas can perhaps squeak out a little more signal strength to give you a boost over the hordes of others trying to check their fantasy lineup at the same time. Audi and GM offer the feature across all varieties of their cars, trucks and SUVs.
6. Multiple USB Ports
Tailgating often means a long day of constant battery drain while researching lineup changes, injuries and green-flag start times. Thankfully, you and all of your friends can mooch off up to five USB inputs for charging devices in a truck like the Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra. Want to get creative? Look into a USB-powered mug warmer for those frigid, late-season football games.
7. Satellite Radio
SiriusXM satellite radio broadcasts a huge number of games and races to keep you tuned into a number of overlapping events. Stuck tailgating at a football game while NASCAR runs on or vice versa? Tune into the broadcast on satellite radio and pipe the race or game through the car’s stereo or a mobile device via the SiriusXM mobile app.
8. In-Car Vacuum
Driving to the football field or track can be like piloting a rolling kitchen pantry. The chances of spilling a 32-ounce giant plastic bin of cheese balls are high, plus many racetracks’ parking lots are in grass- or mud-covered fields, so something like the Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica’s built-in vacuum becomes an easy win for cleaning up after the last embers go out in the grill.
9. Yes Essentials Upholstery
Spills are unavoidable, and the spill risk increases with the number of rowdy super fans brought to the tailgate. Mustard, relish, BBQ sauce, ketchup (just not on your hot dog, please) and more are sure to make their way in the car. But with Yes Essentials fabric in certain Kia, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler Automobile vehicles, you won’t have to worry as much since the cloth upholstery is stain- and odor-resistant.
10. Anything With a Liftgate
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth a mention. Sure, tailgating refers to gathering around the fold-down tailgate of a truck or SUV, but anything with a liftgate might be the way to go as the liftgate rises above the rear of the vehicle to shade tailgaters — liftgaters? — from sun and foul weather.
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