rear view of a car with a cycle in its bed

8 BEST #Tailgating Cars for 2016 Football Season

Be the Life of the Tailgating Party with these Top 8 Tailgating Cars

Football season is upon us, and that means it’s time to have a tailgate party in the stadium parking lot. The phenomenon known as “tailgating” began with impromptu gatherings around the open tailgate of a vehicle in advance of a football game, portable grills roasting burgers, chicken or hot dogs, ice chests overflowing with beer and soda (that’s pop, to you Midwesterners), and people getting their collective drink on.

Today, tailgate parties are far more elaborate affairs involving bigger grills, full cocktail bars, and portable canopies to provide shade. Plus, we’re pretty sure that some tailgate partiers are toting lightweight big-screen TVs and a Slingbox to enjoy the big game right from the comfort of folding chairs sitting on the blacktop. We just have one question for all you tailgate party attendees: where do you go to use the bathroom?

On second thought, we don’t want to know.

Instead, let’s talk about the 10 best cars for tailgating. The best tailgating vehicles don’t necessarily need to have a tailgate. They do, however, need to carry a grill, a cooler full of frosty beverages, a couple of folding chairs, and some grub.

Anything that meets these basic requirements is eligible for inclusion in a list of ultimate tailgating vehicles. However, as you will see on the pages that follow, there’s much more to choosing the 10 best cars for a tailgate party than simply meeting these criteria, and we’ll explain the reasons for each of our choices for best tailgating vehicles. One more thing: this list of tailgating vehicles is published in alphabetical order, rather than our order of preference, because what we value in a good tailgating party might be different from what you do.

Town & Country Minivan

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Chrysler Town & Country

Lots of minivans carry seven passengers to the tailgate party, feature a deep well behind the third-row seat for carrying provisions, and offer a set of third-row seats that flip and reverse so that a couple of people can sit in comfort, protected from the elements under the open liftgate, while taking in the tailgating party scene.

In addition to these features, the Chrysler Town & Country offers individual rear video screens with video input jacks for both rows of seats. Uconnect wi-fi Internet service is also offered for this minivan, providing a perfect platform for streaming live coverage from the leather-lined comfort of your own rolling living room, complete with a premium 506-watt audio system.

The ability to move the tailgate party indoors is particularly important if the weather suddenly turns foul, a regular occurrence in certain regions during football season. And given the Town & Country’s front and second-row heated seats and heated steering wheel, you might just decide it’s better to watch the game from inside this Chrysler instead of from inside the stadium.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Toyota 4Runner

Equipped with a “Party Mode” sound system and the equivalent of a “party tray” in the cargo area, the 2012 Toyota 4Runner is definitely one of the best cars for a tailgate party.

The party tray that we refer to is the 4Runner’s available cargo floor tray, which slides part of the way out of the vehicle to effectively create a three-sided table, making it the perfect place to arrange a meal. Additionally, the tray is designed to hold up to 440 pounds, so when deployed it gives the 4Runner leg-swinging seating just like a pickup truck, but with shelter from the sun or light rain thanks to the raised tailgate.

All 4Runners are equipped with a “Party Mode” for the sound system, which increases the level of bass and redistributes the balance of sound to the rear of the vehicle. The tailgate includes two speakers, so that when raised the 4Runner serves as the soundtrack to any tailgate party. Since Toyota designed the Party Mode specifically for tailgating, the 4Runner needs to be on any list of the best cars for tailgating.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Ram 1500

You just know that the RamBox Cargo Management System for the RAM 1500 pickup truck was conceived by a group of people familiar with the classic tailgate party. The RamBox option provides a cargo bed equipped with locking weather-tight storage boxes on the tops of both sides of the bed.

The RamBox can carry a stack of 4’ x 8’ sheets of plywood, but since you’re not planning to build an ice shanty at the stadium, you care more about the fact that the storage compartments will hold up to 280 cans of your favorite beverage, and that drain plugs mean you can ice those drinks with easy clean up after the tailgate party. Oh, and speaking of tailgates, the Ram 1500 has one, good for sitting upon or using as a table for the spread of chips, dips, and more.

There’s one other thing you should know about the Ram 1500. If you snag a 2013 model, you can get Uconnect mobile wi-fi, which makes it easier to stream programming to the flat-screen TV that easily slides into the truck’s bed.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Rip the roof and doors off of a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, add the Infinity premium sound system with speakers mounted to the overhead sound bar, install the optional Uconnect Web mobile wi-fi service, attach a Mopar Trail Camper to the trailer hitch, and you’ve got a rolling tailgating vehicle for partying both inside and outside of the box. Better yet, if there’s nowhere left to park, you can easily make your own space by jumping the curb and doing a bit of off-roading.

Not that we advocate such behavior.

We’ll admit, the Jeep works better as a fair-weather tailgating vehicle. The Wrangler is a fun-in-the-sun kind of SUV, one best used on warm blue-sky days while wearing plenty of sunblock. Lots of SoCon games fit that description in the fall, and both the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers play their home games under such ideal conditions.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Jeep Patriot

There are few reasons to recommend a Jeep Patriot for anything, but thanks to its optional Boston Acoustics audio system with articulating speakers built into the liftgate, this crossover suv is a perfect tailgating vehicle for anyone seeking a mobile boom box. (For you kids, a “boom box” is something your parents used to carry around on their shoulders, blasting Def Leppard throughout the neighborhood.)

There’s another good reason for using the Jeep Patriot as a tailgating vehicle, aside from its 23 cu-ft. of cargo space (which is barely more than a Corvette). It’s got an available Trail Rated four-wheel-drive system, so if a blizzard strikes during the big game, you’re more likely to exit the parking lot with a minimum of effort compared with most other crossovers.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline appears to be purpose-built for tailgating parties. For starters, this crew-cab pickup truck features a handy dual-action tailgate, which means it swings out to the side or it plops down to extend the load surface or, as is practical for one of the best cars for tailgating, serve as a good place to sit or to array a meal buffet-style.

The real reason the Honda Ridgeline is so appealing for a tailgate party, however, is its standard in-bed trunk. Under the cargo bed floor, the Ridgeline features an 8.5 cu-ft. locking compartment with a drain hole at the bottom. Fill the compartment with ice and beverages, and you’re ready for any tailgate party, anywhere, at anytime.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Ford Flex

If it’s comfort you seek in a great tailgate party vehicle, especially if the weather outside is frightful, the Ford Flex is hard to beat. In addition to providing 20 cu-ft. of tailgating party provisions with room for up to seven passengers, the Flex can be equipped with individual rear bucket seats separated by a console equipped with a refrigerator.

If that’s not a convincing argument in favor of the Flex as an ultimate tailgating vehicle, consider that if you’re the lucky person sitting in the right second-row chair, you can stretch out La-Z-Boy-style thanks to a front passenger’s seat that folds in half, providing an ottoman upon which you can rest your feet.

Add the Flex’s optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system and, if you’ve selected the 2013 model, a next-generation version of MyFord Touch with mobile wi-fi connectivity and video input jacks, and a Ford Flex might just prove to be the better vehicle from which to enjoy the game, even if its parked in your driveway rather than at the tailgate party.

Best Cars for the Tailgate Party: Ford F-350 Super Duty

Nothing is better for a tailgate party than a pickup truck. And a Ford F-350 Super Duty with a 6.7-liter PowerStroke turbo-diesel V8 is a great pickup truck to bring to a tailgating party. With this rig, you’ve got a 110-volt/150-watt power inverter to supply juice to the flat screen TV you’ve hauled to the stadium in the bed, on which you can stream multiple games through a Slingbox and a laptop with a wi-fi card.

And if that power inverter isn’t providing enough power, the F-350’s line drive power take-off feature ought to do the trick. You won’t even need to drive around the parking lot for it to work, because it’ll siphon power from the engine even when the Super Duty is parked and idling. (Of course, the people next to your diesel-burning pickup might not like that very much.) Additionally, the F-350 actually has a tailgate on which to sit, and a handy step that deploys to make it easy to clamber into the bed while loading and unloading.

Does the Ford F-350 Super Duty have what it takes to be a great tailgating vehicle? Do people in Green Bay like football?

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a technician pulling out a cabin air filter

How to Change Your Motor Oil (and Filter)

How much do you pay for a motor oil change? $95? $45? Even if you have a Groupon to Jiffy Lube, it’s cheaper to change the oil yourself. But if frugality doesn’t convince you, perhaps a rejuvenated sense of pride and self-confidence will. Besides, everyone thinks working on a car is sexy.

When should I change my motor oil? 

Although you’ve probably heard the recommendation to change your oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles, newer cars and oils can handle longer distances. Changing your motor oil too frequently is bad for the environment and your wallet. For the most accurate advice, always check your owner’s manual for the mileage intervals between oil changes.

Neglecting regular oil changes can permanently damage your engine.

How to Change Your Motor Oil (and Filter)


If you have all the materials on hand, you can change your motor oil and oil filter in under 30 minutes.


  1. Motor Oil

First, you need to make sure you have the proper oil for your engine. Unfortunately, as in many cases, we have a case of choice overload—synthetic, synthetic-blend, conventional, premium conventional, high-mileage, heavy duty—you see what I mean!

As with mileage intervals between oil changes, consult your owner’s manual for the correct weight/viscosity of the oil and how many quarts you need, sometimes listed under the heading, “capacities.” Usually, it is around 4–6 liters (1.1–1.6 gallons).

No matter what type of oil you choose, always follow manufacturer instructions.

  1. Oil Filter

Whenever you change the oil, you’ll also want to change the filter. Different cars require different oil filters, so again, consult your user’s manual.

You can also show up to the auto parts store with the year, make, and model of your car, and they should be able to look it up for you.

  1. Socket Wrench

You will need a 6 point socket wrench to loosen the drain plug. If you have a socket wrench kit, you should already have the right-sized wrench for the job (Japanese and European cars usually require a metric set). If not, you can find the right-sized attachment for under $5.

  1. Oil Filter Wrench or Pliers 

You might need an oil filter wrench or oil filter pliers to remove the old oil filter, which will set you back around $5-$10. Make sure you buy the right size. If you’re lucky, however, you might be able to remove the filter by hand.

  1. Car Jack or Car Ramp

Use a car jack (with jack stands) or a car ramp to get your car off the ground.

  1. Drain Pan, Funnel, and Plastic Jug

You need three things to properly dispose of the old oil: a pan or bucket to catch the oil, and a funnel and old plastic milk jug to transport it. Improper disposal of motor oil is illegal.

  1. Old Rags, Disposable Gloves, and Safety Glasses

Motor oil has toxic contaminants that you want to keep away from your skin, eyes, and mouth. Wear safety glasses and use disposable nitrile gloves and rags to wipe off any excess oil.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Drain Motor Oil:

  • Warm up the car

In order to facilitate oil flow, make sure the engine is warm by taking the vehicle for a spin around the block or by letting it idle for 5-10 minutes. Once the engine is warm, find yourself a flat surface to work on.

WARNING: To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never let your car idle in a garage or other enclosed area.

  • Park on flat surface and jack up vehicle

Make sure the car is on a flat surface, put the car in park, apply the parking break, and remove the keys. Look up your car’s jacking points in the owner’s manual and jack up the engine side of the vehicle.

If you are using a jack, support the vehicle with jack stands! We also recommend restraining rear tires with wheel blocks to prevent the back wheels from rolling.

If you are using a ramp, drive up it front wheels first, but be careful not to overshoot. Once safely on the ramp, engage the parking break and turn the engine off.

WARNING: Always follow safety instructions for the proper use of ramps and car jacks.

  • Remove the oil dipstick

Now that the car is securely lifted, put on your gloves and pop the hood. Remove the oil dipstick, which will allow the oil to drain smoother and faster. If you can’t find your oil dipstick, consult the owner’s manual.

  • Locate the oil pan and oil plug

Next, you’ll need to get underneath your car to find the oil pan, which looks like a flat metal pan underneath to the engine, further away from the transmission.

The oil plug looks like a large bolt on the bottom of the oil pan. If you are having difficulty locating the oil pan, consult your owner’s manual.

  • Place a drain pan or large bucket underneath the oil pan

The container you choose should be large enough to hold all the old oil that will soon be draining out. Most cars hold about 4-5 quarts of oil, so make sure the container can safely catch at least that amount. We also recommend laying out some newspaper to prevent oil stains.

  • Remove the oil plug

Before you drain the motor oil, make sure you have your gloves and safety glasses on. Once you find the oil plug bolt at the bottom of the pan, start loosening it with the proper sized socket wrench (some vehicles may have two drain plugs).

When the bolt head is loose, use your gloved hands to remove the plug very slowly, so that the oil drips into the bucket/pan below.

Oil will flow quickly at first, but will it will take up to 30 minutes for all the oil to drain out.

WARNING: Oil may be very hot!

  • Replace the plug and add a new washer

When the oil has stopped dripping, clean up any excess oil and wipe the drain plug and plug threads with a rag.

After inspecting the condition of your drain plug and gasket, replace the plug and add a new drain plug gasket if necessary.

If your plug and washer are still in good condition, reinstall the plug and tighten it as far as you can with your hand. Then use a 6-pt. socket wrench to secure it, while being careful not to over-tighten it.

2. Replace Oil Filter:

  • Locate and remove oil filter

Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard location for oil filters, so you may have to spend some time locating it. This may be the hardest part! If you are having any difficulty, consult the owner’s manual.

The old oil filter will have some oil inside, so make sure a pan or bucket is underneath to catch any excess oil. You may need a socket-type oil filter wrench to remove the old filter, however, many can be removed by hand.

Once the filter is removed and the excess oil has drained, use a rag to clean the area and check for any loose gaskets or debris that may be stuck inside the mounting plate.

  • Lubricate new filter with oil and screw into place

Use your glove-covered finger to spread a little oil over the gasket of your new filter and thread it into the opening where the filter goes. You should be able to tighten it by hand.

Oil filters come with specific instructions for how many rotations you need to tighten it (located on the packaging or the filter itself). When in doubt, see owner’s manual for instructions.

3. Add Clean Oil and Recycle Oil & Filter:

  • Refill new oil

After the drain plug is replaced and the new filter installed, use a clean funnel to fill your car with new oil. Consult your owner’s manual to find out the correct viscosity and volume you should pour in, but most cars take 4–6 liters. Once you have replaced the oil, screw the oil cap back on.

For the most accurate oil level readings, check your dipstick first thing in the morning, when the car is cool and on a level surface.

  • Run the car and inspect for leaks

You’re almost done! After pouring in the correct amount of new oil, close the hood, return the dipstick, run the engine, and look under the car for any oil leaks or spills (especially near the oil pan and filter). If you see a leak, cut the engine and let it cool before repairing the leak.

Once you have checked for leaks, turn the engine off and wait one minute before lowering the vehicle to the ground.

  • Clean up and write down the date and mileage of the car.

Look around and clean up any oil, newspaper, or rags. Write down the date of your oil change and mileage of your vehicle and leave it in the car for future reference. Follow the owner’s manual for the proper mileage in between oil changes.

WARNING: Change your oil on a regular basis to avoid permanent damage to your vehicle.

  • Return oil dipstick and properly dispose of old oil and oil filter

It is a crime to throw your old oil and filter away in the sewer or trash. In order to abide by local and federal laws, you need to recycle your old oil at a local gas station, auto shop, or recycling center. Just transport your oil, using a funnel, into a couple of empty milk jugs and take them to a recycling center near you.

WARNING: Be careful not to contaminate the recycling process by using empty paint cans, bleach containers, or anything else that used to contain chemicals. Make sure you call the recycling center first for days and hours of operation.

That’s it! Now grab a cold one and congratulate yourself for saving money and learning a new skill.

Auto Simple Offers FREE Oil Changes!

Become a Preferred Customer of Auto Simple simply by signing up for recurring payments from your checking account via ACH or debit card and earn FREE oil changes every 90 days for the life of your loan!*

If you have any questions about how to change your oil or filter, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 423-584-6700.

Image Sources: Bigstock and Wikimedia Commons

Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car. We specialize in financing for all credit levels, low down payments, and affordable weekly payments. In most cases we can have you driving your new car in less than an hour.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

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*Preferred Customer program and free conventional oil changes every ninety (90) days are contingent upon the customer electing to make recurring payments to via ACH or debit card. Additionally, to continue in the Preferred Customer program and receive free oil changes, the customer’s loan must remain in good standing, and the customer may not cancel the recurring payment election. See store for further details. Other restrictions may apply.