AAA kicks off football season with list of top vehicles for tailgating

(August 30, 2011) ORLANDO, Fla. — We know the college and professional football seasons are upon us when we get not just one, but two lists of most desired vehicles for tailgate parties.

AAA Auto Buying experts are kicking off football season by releasing their list of six top vehicle picks for tailgating. And elsewhere on MotorwayAmerica you can find Kelley Blue Book's top ten picks. Interestingly, there is no overlapping in picks. So if you use the two lists together, you can create a "top 16" vehicle picks for tailgating.

MotorwayAmerica editors could throw in a few more, but we figure 16 is great plenty.

"Tailgate parties are synonymous with football season. While some diehard fans will purchase an older vehicle and deck it out with their team colors and features specifically for tailgating, most fans head to the stadium in the vehicles they use every day," said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information.

"If you're an avid tailgater and in the market for a new vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have compiled a list of vehicles you should check out before the big game."

Tailgating vehicles are traditionally thought of as trucks and SUVs. For those football fans seeking a more traditional vehicle, AAA Auto Buying experts have three top picks:

Ford F-150 EcoBoost: For fans who like their tailgating vehicles to actually have a tailgate, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford F-150 EcoBoost. It's a pickup truck with V-8 power and six-cylinder fuel economy.

The extended and crew cabs make it easy to carry friends and family to the game in surprising comfort while the cargo box easily accommodates everything necessary for a great tailgating experience. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford F-150 SuperCab XLT is $32,245, 6.8 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid: Fans seeking a slightly 'greener' vehicle for tailgating that still provides them with all the room they need for a good tailgating party should consider the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. The cavernous interior provides ample room to carry fans and supplies to the big game.

But for those who want a deluxe tailgating experience, the Tahoe's generous towing rating makes it easy to haul a separate trailer filled with the ultimate tailgating supplies. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is $46,073, which is 11.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Chevrolet Avalanche: The Chevrolet Avalanche allows fans to enjoy an actual tailgate at their tailgating party while also being able to securely lock away their supplies when they head inside the stadium. The Avalanche has a unique combination of a crew cab pickup truck passenger cabin with a cargo box that can be locked and kept weather-tight. The TrueCar national average selling price for the 2011 Chevrolet Avalanche is $31,780, 14.7 percent less than MSRP

AAA Auto Buying experts recognize not all football fans may want a large truck or SUV for their everyday driving, and therefore named three less traditional tailgating vehicles to the top picks list, as well:

Ford Flex: For fans looking for tons of room without getting an SUV, AAA Auto Buying experts suggest the Ford Flex. Its boxy styling delivers an exceptionally roomy interior that is perfect for passengers, coolers, grills and folding furniture.

The EcoBoost engine, with its improved performance and better fuel economy (over the standard V-6), makes the Flex even more attractive as a spacious SUV alternative for tailgating. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Ford Flex with EcoBoost is $34,169, which is 9.8 percent less than the MSRP

Subaru Forester: For diehard fans that tailgate in any weather — be it rain, sleet or snow — they want a vehicle like the all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester that can get them through any conditions to the game. In addition to delivering exceptional value, this crossover utility vehicle offers lively engine response (in the turbo version), comfortable seating with room for four and above average ride and handling.

In addition, the cargo area should be more than capable of handling the basic necessities for a good tailgating party. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Subaru Forrester is $20,537, 4.6 percent less than the MSRP.

Nissan Cube: The most untraditional pick by AAA Auto Buying experts for tailgating is the Nissan Cube. Its stylings may appeal more to college student or recent graduates, but it still provides amazing amounts of room for party food and tailgating gear. Additionally, the Cube has an exceptional turning radius and swing-out tailgate that will make maneuvering and setup in a crowded parking lot a breeze. The TrueCar national average selling price of the 2011 Nissan Cube is $14,697, which is 5.2 percent less than the MSRP.

AAA's top picks are selected by its AAA Auto Buying experts who test drive and evaluate hundreds of vehicles each year.