When I was growing up in northern Indiana, the University of Notre Dame was just two towns over. My friend Ann and her family had season tickets and a big RV, and I had the good fortune to be invited along for plenty of pregame tailgate parties. The Fightin’ Irish games are epic fun, and I didn’t think anything could match that until I moved to Texas; the University of Texas Longhorns put on a raucous good time, and its rival Aggies of Texas A&M rock the stadium before, during, and after the games.
You don’t have to have an RV for a memorable tailgate gathering, although you could rent one from places like RVshare. All kinds of vehicles qualify for fall partying, and some of them include built-in coolers, multifunction tailgates that serve as steps and seats, and power outlets for TVs and coffee makers. If a Ford F-150 can power up a whole house, providing the juice for a Saturday get-together before a football game is a cakewalk. Get your fried chicken and deviled eggs and frosty beverages on, because fall sports are in full swing. Which vehicle is your pick?
Honda’s new Ridgeline has a lockable storage bin in the bed that holds 7.3 cubic feet of ice and beverages and includes a drain plug. The tailgate swings down or out, which gives you some configuration options, and you can set it up with in-bed speakers and power outlets. The RamBox is a longtime feature on Ram trucks with a similar setup (drain plugs in an insulated bin) but it’s accessible from the outside, which means you can load up the whole bed and not have a problem grabbing a cold one from the icebox. Plus the tailgate can hold up to 2,000 pounds so that’s you, a few friends, and all the wings you can eat.
On the Toyota Tacoma, a drivers-side storage box is insulated and transforms into a cooler with a few bags of ice. Add a 120-volt outlet in the bed and you’re ready to hook up a TV. I don’t know what features the new Tundra will bring to the party, but we’ll find out soon.
Meanwhile, hear me out on this: Toyota’s Sienna may not have a truck tailgate, but it works. The new minivan design is much more SUV-like in the front, and it comes with seven USB ports plus the third row stashes flat. Over the summer, my sister and I pack the card table, a few stadium chairs, and a picnic, and we use the back of her Honda Odyssey as our storage and seating at the lake. Who cares that it’s a minivan? We do not.
I’ve already told you all about the tailgating accessories you can get for the new Ford Bronco, and Jeep offers a whole catalog of items too. I want to know how you set up your outdoor parties in your vehicle, so tell us in the comments about your rig or your ultimate setup; bonus points for sharing creative ideas.
Note that I’m calling penalties if you slam Notre Dame in the comments. Old loyalties die hard.
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