Baseball might be America?s favorite past time, but tailgating is America's favorite tradition. It's like camping but you're in a parking lot and you don't spend the night.

The right vehicle is an essential piece of the tailgating experience. With spring finally here and baseball season starting up, it might be time to take a look at some of the best tailgaters around.

  • 1 Ford Flex

    Ford Flex

    $25,000

    17 City / 24 Hwy

    The Flex has all the features you might be looking for in a tailgating vehicle: Lots of room, a decent stereo, USB input... but best of all, the car has an optional 110 volt power inverter. This means you can plug in a blender and make margaritas, which could be essential on a hot summer day.

    Another fun optional extra is the refrigerator. It?s not big, it fits just a little more than a six pack, but you?re sure to impress a few friends when you pop open a panel in between the rear seats and pull out a refreshing cold beverage. You know who else who had a refrigerator in his car? James Bond.

     

  • 2 Honda Ridgeline

    Honda Ridgeline

    $27,050

    15 City / 20 Hwy

    How can you enjoy America?s favorite past time from a Japanese pickup? Three words: Integrated. Bed. Cooler.

    The Ridgeline has a slew of features that make it a great choice for tailgating at a baseball game, but more than anything else, is its pickup bed. First of all you can open it two ways, from the top like a normal pickup tailgate, or from the side, like a car door. You may not need to open it in more ways than one but when you?re limited for space in a parking lot, it?s great to have options.

    Behind the trick door is a panel that lifts up to reveal a kind of trunk space within the bed. The ?trunk? is water-proof and has a drain plug so you can turn your ride into a big 4,500 pound drink cooler.

     

  • 3 Pontiac Aztek

    Pontiac Aztek

    $7,625

    19 City / 26 Hwy

    Now bear with me here. Putting the Pontiac Aztek on any ?best of? list is likely to get anyone thrown out of the automotive journalism world forever. But you know what? In spite of being named one of the 50 worst inventions ever by Time Magazine, it actually has some features that would be appreciated by the hardcore tailgater.

    The Aztek?s back end was designed for exactly this purpose, its unique setup gives it a lot of room and decent access to the cargo area. There?s even stereo controls located in the back so you can change the music without walking around to the front of the car.

    Best of all? Before arriving to the game, load the car up with a bunch of MLB magnets and flags for the away team. When people spot those colors on an Aztek, it?s sure to drum up support for your guys.

     

  • 4 Lexus LX 570

    Lexus LX 570

    $79,925

    12 City / 18 Hwy

    A good tailgater means good tunes, and they just don?t get much better than this.

    The LX is offered with an optional Mark Levinson 19 speaker surround sound system. It comes with a six disk CD DVD player and is capable of playing audio DVDs, which will make your friend?s MP3s sound like cassette tapes.

    The option costs around $3,000 but let?s face it, if your car starts in the $80,000 range, what?s another three grand?

     

  • 5 Jeep Compass

    Jeep Compass

    $18,500

    23 City / 27 Hwy

    The Compass may be one of the smaller vehicles in this group but make no mistake, this car is a terrific tailgater.

    The Compass has an optional audio system that includes a subwoofer in the back and a pair of speakers on the lift up tailgate. When the back is opened up, and the tailgate is hanging in the air, you can swivel the speakers downward so sound is directed straight out over the parking lot.

    You can also equip the car with a household 115 volt electrical outlet, so finally you can get some sun and play Xbox at the same time.

     

author photo

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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