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CARS MAKING THE GRADE THIS FALL Suggests Best Tailgating Vehicles and Top Cars for Colleges

School is almost back in session, which means college football season is just a punt away. To help you get in the game, drafted some vehicles from the class of 2005 as being the best in the field for tailgating.

Get With The Game
A few friends, a lot of food and team spirit can make your tailgate party victorious. Keep in mind special features available in both new and used cars that can make your party a bowl contender:

Passenger Capacity & Tailgate Seating: You'll need plenty of room and a little comfort, because you never know who might be coming along for the ride.

  • There are many seven-passenger vehicles on the market today, but for a serious party, consider full-size passenger vans such as the 15-passenger Ford Econoline van and the Chevy Express Passenger van. The Dodge Sprinter comfortably seats 10.
  • The Mazda MPV, Ford Freestar, Mercury Monterey and the Chrysler Town & Country have a "tailgating" feature that allows the third row to be flipped backward to create a rain-protected seating area.
  • You can also sit under the liftgate, available in virtually all SUVs, for protection from the sun and elements. Even better is the liftgate-tailgate combination, as found on the Honda Element, which also has stain- and water-resistant floor and seats, and the 2005 Pontiac Aztek, which has seat indentations and cup-holders.

Tables: Presentation is always key, so be sure to have plenty of room to display all the goodies for the pre-party.

  • The Honda CR-V's cargo floor lifts out and becomes a folding picnic table.
  • In the Subaru Forester, you can also get a cargo tray, which is a durable textured surface that protects the cargo area from spills like water, groceries, etc.
  • The Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Chevy Equinox both have a rear cargo panel that can double as a table.
Speakers: To tout your school song, you need a great speaker system. Check out these cars to pump up the volume:

  • The 2004 Ford Mustang has an available 1,000-watt sound system called the Mach 1000 Audio system.
  • The 2005 Pontiac Aztek has a stereo system designed to play for and be controlled from the tailgate area.

Voltage: Look for vehicles with power in the back, including some with 110 volts (household outlets) for lights and low-draw appliances. Hybrid versions of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra have high-current outlets rated at 110 volts and 20 amperes, which can run a small refrigerator or just about any other high-draw appliance.

The Road to College
Tailgating isn't the only function for versatile vehicles. From toting books, groceries and laundry to traveling in between classes, to parties and home to visit family, students practically live out of their cars. found the most-searched-for vehicles on its Web site for some top schools. Following is a list of what you may see this semester at college campuses around the country.

  • University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign): Toyota Corolla
  • University of Michigan: Subaru Forester
  • The Ohio State University: Honda Accord
  • Purdue University: Mazda 3
  • University of Wisconsin (Madison): Honda Accord
  • University of Notre Dame: Honda Accord
  • Georgia Tech: Mazda 3
  • Florida State University: Nissan Altima
  • University of Nebraska (Lincoln): Kia Sorento
  • The University of Oklahoma: Chevrolet Colorado
  • Texas A&M University: Honda Accord
  • The University of Tennessee (Knoxville): Chevrolet Tahoe

Note: Search is based on new vehicles that were configured in each college's respective zip code on from January - June 2004. Log on to to find the right car for you.


Partnered with 175 leading metro newspapers, television stations and their Web sites, is the one-stop shop for those looking to buy or sell a new or used car. The site places vehicle listings from more than 7,400 dealers alongside nationwide classified advertising and private-party listings to offer consumers the best selection of new and used cars online, as well as the content, tools and advice to support their shopping experience. combines powerful inventory search tools and new-car configuration with pricing information, photo galleries, buying guides, side-by-side comparison tools, original editorial content and reviews to help millions of consumers connect with sellers each month.

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