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Best trucks for tailgating

Posted by Bill Griffith  September 8, 2011 05:15 PM

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(Barry Chin/Globe Staff)

Tailgaters fill the lots outside Harvard stadium last fall.

Tailgating is what you make of it.

One version of tailgating is following the car in front of you too closely, obviously a foolish and dangerous driving habit. However, driving a vehicle that's comfortable for tailgating — eating and mingling before, during, or after an athletic event — is to find yourself with a lot of friends.

Recently, DISH Network recently announced its "Tailgater," a lightweight, portable satellite TV antenna designed for outdoor recreational use. The setup weighs only 10 pounds and automatically locates satellite positions, perfect for watching the pregame shows in high definition.

Because it's the start of the football season, plenty of folks are pitching the "best" tailgating vehicle. Now, if I'm going to be sipping wine with watercress sandwiches at Harvard Stadium, a Mercedes E320 wagon would do the job quite nicely.

We also have a special place in our fan's heart of hearts for those who paint and customize and old bus or RV for the job, but the best tailgating vehicle should be available for family use, too, on the 350-something days a year it isn't at the stadium. We're also talking heavy-duty use at the likes of Gillette Stadium here and only the Big Boys — SUVs and pickups — need apply.

Because a "real" tailgater needs to lug a grill, propane tank, and plenty of outside stuff (tables, chairs, coolers, canopies), we're eliminating SUVs from this list. So it comes down to pickup trucks. Here are our Top 3, chosen for their lockable exterior bins for stowing food and drink during the game.

2011-Chevrolet-Avalanche-250.jpgChevrolet Avalanche. This is one of the favorites of the people at AAA. The Avalanche is a crew cab pickup with a lockable and weather-tight outside cargo box.

2012-Dodge-Ram-1500.jpgRam 1500. Kelley Blue Book picked the Ram as it's No. 1 tailgating choice, citing the RamBox cargo management system of bedside bins that can accommodate up to 240 12-ounce cans and interior in-floor bins in addition to smaller rear under-seat compartments.

2011-Honda-Ridgeline.jpgHonda Ridgeline. One of the knocks on this pickup is that it's too genteel for heavy-duty pickup work. But, for tailgating, it's perfect with comfortable five-passenger seating, a dual-access (fold down or swing out) tailgate, and 8.5 cubic feet of secure under-bed stowage.



The RamBox Holster on the Ram 1500 can carry fishing poles, or more appropriately for the name, guns. But please, fill it with drinks instead.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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