Five Affordable Vehicles Perfect for College Football Tailgating

Haul your grill and plenty of beverages in these adaptable, game-day-ready rides.

people grilling at college football tailgating Shutterstock

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With college football back in action, sports fans are taking part in one of their favorite vehicle-related activities: the parking lot tailgate party.

Everyone loves a pregame gathering with lots of food and beverages, so we’ve gathered five lower-cost motorized meeting spots that offer extensive cargo room, outdoor entertainment systems, and plug-in power to help you get the party started.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado Chevrolet

2022 Chevy Silverado

Chevy seems to have tailgating in mind with the new Multi-Flex Tailgate system, which is usually available on all trims of its 2022 Silverado pickup (starting around $34,000 in regular cab form). The system offers six different functions, including improved bed access and a full-width step. There’s also an optional built-in Kicker sound system that’ll play your Bluetooth or USB tunes until kickoff time. Higher-end Silverado models can tow as much as 13,300 pounds of trailer; you’ll appreciate the easier access to the cargo box as you gear up for the game.

2022 Ford MaverickFord

2022 Ford Maverick

Ford’s petite new pickup offers the right mix of compact size and maximized capacity for a busy parking lot. The nearly $24,000 Maverick is preprogrammed for tailgating: there’s a 110-volt outlet in the truck bed, and the tailgate has both built-in bottle openers and a 500-pound weight limit, making it a perfect place for you and friends to sit. Cooler yet, the truck comes standard with a 2.5-liter hybrid engine and battery setup, allowing you 37 combined mpg on your way to the game (or at least the stadium parking lot).

2023 Kia Carnival minivanKia

2023 Kia Carnival

You will definitely be the most stylish member of the tailgating crowd with the distinctive and ultra-commodious eight-passenger Kia Carnival, priced around $34,000. With 145.1 cubic feet of interior room, it’s ready for a high-volume load of fans and all of their pregame goods. Its sliding second-row seats can be entirely removed and the third row can be dropped into the floor if you want to test out its total cargo capacity—not to mention that the Kia can pull up-to 3,500 pounds of trailer. There’s also 115-volt power available on the higher-end models.

2022 Jeep WranglerJeep

2022 Jeep Wrangler

Like a Lego set for adults, Jeep’s perennial party-time favorite is entertaining both on and off the trail—and in the stadium parking lot. With an available built-in soundbar in its roll cage, the truck allows you to crank up the tunes while you and your friends see how long it takes during the half-time show to remove the Wrangler’s doors and top and fold down the front window—then reinstall everything. If you make a real mess with the food, the Wrangler also has a wash-out interior with drain plugs, plus three 12-volt outlets in the cabin. The two-door Wrangler Sport starts just under $32,000.

2022 Ram ProMaster CityRam

2022 Ram ProMaster City

If moving-van-styled cargo capacity for your brats and beverages is at the top of your tailgating list, consider the handyperson’s secret weapon: the Ram ProMaster City. Ram’s Turkish-made, nearly $34,000 utility container on wheels offers a truly capacious 131.7 cubic feet of barbeque-and-accessories space, even though it doesn’t look like it from the outside. Its 60/40 split rear doors open ultra wide, allowing you to slide a four-foot grill between the wheel wells. It’s also got 178 horsepower’s worth of hustle and can tow a 2,000-pound trailer.

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Andy Stonehouse
Andy Stonehouse literally fell into the world of auto writing while working as a ski-town journalist, and has not looked back since. A childhood spent dealing with the eccentricities of a 1976 MG Midget has made any subsequent auto experience a more safe and reliable drive. He has been blessed with nearby mountain trails and snowy roads in Colorado to do TV-adventure-styled test drives on a weekly basis.