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2019 Hyundai Kona EV Review: The Future is Here, But It’s Still Expensive

The Hyundai Kona Electric is the electric vehicle version of the Kona subcompact crossover. It’s one of multiple so-called “Tesla Model 3 fighters” aiming to capture a share of the the entry-level EV market, where cars start around $30,000 after factoring in the full $7,500 federal tax credit.

The Kona’s range and perky driving dynamics have made it a hit with reviewers; NACTOY jurors named it the “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” for 2019, for example. It may be the best affordable EV on the market not made by Tesla. In the EV market, however, “affordable” still means spending $40,000-plus on a small Hyundai.

The Good: The Kona Electric is super-efficient: It delivers 258 miles of EPA range (nearly the most of any non-Tesla EV) out of a small 64-kilowatt-hour battery. Despite that efficiency, it’s quick in everyday driving, thanks to 291 pound-feet of instantly-available torque.

Who It’s For: The Kona EV is for the understated early adopter who finds a Tesla a bit too flashy. This buyer is not the sort to order a smug vanity plate or join an online motoring cult; he or she simply wants a car that cuts his or her carbon consumption.

Watch Out For: Don’t let the “utility vehicle” moniker fool you. The Kona EV is tiny.

Alternatives: Major rivals for the Kona EV matching price, range, and capability include the Tesla Model 3, the Nissan Leaf Plus and the Chevy Bolt. The Kona also has a corporate cousin, the Kia Niro EV, built on the same platform.

Review: The Kona EV may not have been my white whale, but it did take me months to get hold of one in the Detroit-area media fleet. It has been a popular car to write about this year because it addresses some of the fundamental questions about this propulsion shift: Will converting to electric car affect daily life? Will EVs suck all of the enjoyment out of driving? Will anyone who isn’t a tech bro be able to afford one?

After a two-day-stint driving the Kona EV, I can report that the answers to those questions are no, no…and maybe.

Automotive awards jurors like the Kona EV because it’s fun to drive. Small crossovers tend not to make great drivers’ cars, but the Kona EV is not the Nissan Leaf proxy many would expect. It offers 291 lb-ft of torque — more than a Golf R — and because it has an electric powerplant, that torque comes immediately at zero rpm.

This makes it feel super quick in everyday driving. You can sneak up on a BMW driver (literally, since they can’t hear you), and then have enough oomph to roar past them in the fast lane. The Kona’s performance is by no means “ludicrous,” but it’s engaging enough not to make converting to electric feel like an act of penance for carbon-related sins.

The Kona EV combines this performance with efficiency. It has an EPA-rated 258-mile range (longer than a standard Model 3) in spite of having only a 64-kWh battery. I tried to induce range anxiety over my time with the car; even without the Level 2 home charging apparatus most owners will use to top up with overnight, I couldn’t come close. With braking-based regeneration on full blast, I used about 10 miles of range over two days running errands.

I simulated the longest reasonable daily commute from my house in the Detroit suburbs — a 42-mile drive to Ann Arbor, which takes anywhere from about an hour to an eternity, depending on traffic. Over the whole trip, I used 50 miles of net range, then gained about 30 miles back on a charger in a public garage while I devoured a Reuben sandwich. The toughest part of my experience was the inordinate amount of time it took me to realize I had to unlock the car to disconnect the charger.

Owners will likely recharge at night. (At least, those with garages or private driveways will.) It’s only on extended trips where range anxiety would ever become an issue. Even then, it’s stopping for a long lunch at a fast charger; the Kona recharges to 80 percent capacity (206 miles of range) in 54 minutes. Unless you’re doing frequent cross-country trips, electric likely makes sense for you.

I didn’t lead with the Kona Electric’s looks because, unlike a lot of EVs, it blends in. The pockmarked texture and sliver of chrome at the front give the illusion of a grille, so you don’t notice it doesn’t have one. Other than the fancy wheels that improve its aerodynamics, it looks like a regular Kona. My personal preference would have been to choose any color except the “cerulean blue” on my tester.

The Kona EV’s interior felt oddly analog for such a car. There are tactile buttons everywhere: the gear shifter is a series of hard buttons; climate and infotainment adjustment happen with buttons; you even engage the HUD with a button. There’s an argument to be made against Tesla-style touchscreen minimalism, but this felt too far in the other direction.

While you may see the Kona described as a “utility vehicle,” don’t let that fool you. There’s not much utility. The cargo area is small, and the rear seat is cramped. I had to contort my toddler more than usual to maneuver him into his car seat. It may be hatchback-sized, but it feels closer to a Mini than a Golf.

Besides a slight lack of practicality, the major sticking point for prospective buyers may be cost. Battery tech is still too expensive for mass-market adoption. The Kona EV is priced well compared to other EVs — the base model slides in a hair under $30,000 after the tax credit — but that price still can’t compete with internal combustion. Unless you’re committed to buying an electric vehicle, the choice for $40K or so is an entry-level Mercedes sedan, a large, loaded Honda SUV…or a subcompact Hyundai.

Verdict: I suffer from a lot of climate guilt, and the Kona EV is such a good daily driver, I’d consider buying one. Consider it: In reality, most buyers (including me) will need a more practical car. Many will still be tempted to stick with the value found in internal combustion.

Switching to a Kona would be a lifestyle choice, not just a transportation one. If Tesla’s foibles don’t scare you off, it’s a fancier brand, and you can get a Model 3 for only a few thousand more.

2019 Hyundai Kona EV: Key Specs

MSRP As Tested: $44,900
Horsepower: 201
Torque: 291 lb-ft
EPA Range: 258 miles
Battery Size: 64-kWh

Hyundai provided this product for review.

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2020 Ferrari F8 Spider loses its roof for Frankfurt

The inevitable has, well, happened: The F8 Tributo has received a drop-top twin in the form of the 2020 Ferrari F8 Spider. It’s pretty much exactly what you would expect. Most of the body is identical to the Tributo except for the power retractable hardtop that replaces a targa-style roof panel and the rear window, leaving large flying buttresses with the top down. The drawback to the removable roof is that you can no longer view the engine through the window, as that panel also hides the top and mechanisms.

Powering the F8 Spider is the same turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 as the coupe. It still makes 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. It’s a high-revver, too with a redline of 8,000 rpm. The V8 is coupled to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Being a convertible, the Spider does add an extra 154 pounds over the coupe, and thus is a touch slower. The 0-62 mph time is unchanged at 2.9 seconds, but on the way to 124 mph, the Spider takes 8.2 seconds versus the coupe’s 7.8 second time. It does have the same 211 mph top speed as the coupe, though.

Pricing and availability have not been announced for the F8 Spider. We expect it will have a price premium over the coupe’s $274,280 base price.

Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+ limited to 30 units worldwide

Bugatti announced plans to end its record-chasing career on a high note by turning the 304-mph, long-tail Chiron into a limited-edition model. Named Chiron Super Sports 300+, it’s an evolution of the standard car that promises to let buyers who find a long enough stretch of tarmac channel their inner Andy Wallace.

The 300+ is all but identical to the Chiron that Wallace bravely piloted to 304 mph on Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany in August 2019. Keeping it planted on its four wheels as it approaches speeds airplanes normally take off at required redesigning its aerodynamic profile. The 9.8 inches of carbon fiber added to the rear end immediately reveal it’s not a standard Chiron, but the 300+ also receives tweaks to its front end (including vents chiseled above the wheels), and a reshaped rear diffuser for added downforce. The rear wing is notably fixed to reduce drag.

While Wallace hit 304-mph in a stripped-out cabin loaded to the gills with electronic equipment, the version buyers will be able to add to their collection will come with a variant of the Chiron’s interior made with model-specific materials. As always, customization will be the name of the game. Collectors will have the chance to work directly with Bugatti to create a one-of-a-kind car.

The 300+ uses a 1,600-horsepower evolution of the Chiron’s 1,500-horsepower, quad-turbocharged W16. This mammoth of an engine channels its power to all four wheels via a seven-speed, dual-clutch all-wheel drive system. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes under 2.4 seconds, while its true official top speed hasn’t been explored yet. Its Michelin tires were bench-tested at up to 317 mph.

Bugatti will make 30 examples of the Chiron Super Sports 300+, and pricing starts at $3.5 million before taxes and options elbow their way into the equation. All things considered, that’s a surprisingly reasonable sum; the standard Chiron carries a $3 million price tag. Bugatti began taking orders for the model after displaying Wallace’s record-breaking car during a reveal event attended by clients all over the world, and several units were spoken for before dessert arrived. “They will be gone in the blink of an eye,” company boss Stephan Winkelmann told Autoblog.

Ferrari 812 Spider leaks online, F8 Tributo Spider on the way

Social media has no intention of going quietly into the weekend, with Facebook user “Cavallino Ramparte” leaking images of the Ferrari 812 Spider. Earlier reports said Ferrari had invited VIP owners to two preview events in early September, one for the open-top 812, one for the F8 Tributo Spider. This 812 pic appears to have been taken at the respective gathering, Ferrari Chat forum members posting that the Italian automaker showed both near the beginning of the week. Official pictures are rumored to come on Monday, but as far as we can tell at the moment, the 812 barely changes. The narrow opening over the driver’s head is bounded by a thick header between the A-pillars on one side, and two buttresses behind the headrests on the other, akin to the racy buttresses from the SP1 and SP2 Monza limited-editions.

We’re not sure how the roof mechanism works. Mining Ferrari Chat again, one member posted that the rear fascia has been redesigned and the trunk aperture is larger. Trunk space seemed to be the same as on the standard 812 Superfast, minus the missing rear shelf. Another poster who was at the event wrote, “The spider weighs 3527 lbs dry weight. vs 3362 for coupe,” and on acceleration times for 0 to 124 miles per hour wrote, “I think it was 8.3s for the spider, whereas coupe is quoted at 7.9s.” No one mentioned power changes, not that the 6.5-liter V12 with 789 horsepower and 530 pound-feet needs any.

According to a third poster, the F8 Tributo employs the same convertible template as the 488 Spider, with longer louvers over the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 that can be optioned in carbon fiber. Since Ferrari’s been dancing this kind of V8 two-step since the 458 Italia, we don’t expect any surprises design-wise. Whispers online say we’ll be able to peruse all angles on Monday, when Ferrari’s expected to release high-res press shots.

The Taycan Turbo is the First All-Electric Porsche

It certainly won’t sound like a Porsche but the release of the all-new Taycan Turbo is a landmark moment for the German automaker. It is the brand’s first all-electric car. With an ultra-efficient 800 volt system, the upgraded Turbo S version of this silent killer cranks out 750 horses, making it one of the most powerful production Porsches. The 800 volt system also allows it to re-charge up to 80% in under 23 minutes with a full-charge driving range of 280 miles. Hitting 161 MPH with zero emissions—pretty darn cool.

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5,000-hp Devel Sixteen shown driving in short clip

It’s been a while since we heard anything about the Devel Sixteen, the elusive hypercar that claims to be able to go 310 mph. It was the 2017 Dubai Motor Show, in fact, where it showed off what it said was the production version of the 5,007-horsepower car. So what’s the company been up to since then?

Well, that’s hard to say beyond the presumable litany of tests and development tweaks the company is putting the car through before it — again, presumably — goes into production. Meanwhile, the company released a short clip of the car driving down a windy desert road.

Before you get too excited, know that it’s driven at a rather leisurely pace. So there’s nothing here to suggest that Devel can make good on any of its claims. But we do at least get a look at the car in action, such as it is, and you get a fleeting sense of how the exhaust sounds (though it’s better in the video embedded below). For what it’s worth, the YouTube commenters are almost uniformly skeptical and unimpressed. If this has anything to do with wanting to reclaim some buzz in the wake of Bugatti’s recent feat of breaking the 300-mph barrier in a prototype Chiron, then it’s an odd way to do it.

Meanwhile, there are some more recent details about the company’s plans for the car. Devel plans three different versions, starting with a pair of street-legal versions: the base, which puts out a mere (!) 2,000 horsepower, courtesy of a V8, will reportedly start around $1.6 million, and a midrange 3,000-hp variant equipped with the vaunted V16 quad-turbo engine for a cool $1.8 million. The grand Poobah 5,000-hp version will come with an 81-mm quad-turbo 12.3-liter V16, cost around $2.2 million, and with production reportedly capped at seven examples per year, be built in Texas.

Meanwhile, the last anyone had seen of the Sixteen was last November, when Supercar Blondie got a chance to sit in the car and drive it, gingerly, in Dubai and the surrounding desert.

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The clip, embedded above, is also worthwhile for the brief interview with Majid Al Attar, Devel’s co-founder along with his two brothers and the car’s designer. At the time, Al Attar said they’d hoped to have the car in testing in early 2019.

5 of the Best New Car Lease Deals You Can Find in September 2019

Labor Day has passed, and all those purported “can’t miss” summer savings events on new cars and trucks have ended. But dealers and manufacturers are moving on to their September promotions, and there are still some great offers out there — especially if you don’t need to drive more than 10,000 miles per year and don’t mind handing back your vehicle after two or three years.

Here, then, are five of the best new car lease deals you can find in the US as of September 2019.

Toyota Tacoma – $219/mo.

The Tacoma has at or near the best residual value on the market (though the Jeep Gladiator is gunning for the crown). That can work in your favor for leasing. Toyota has a September lease offer on the base trim SR Tacoma equipped with some broad essentials (double cab version, four-wheel-drive, V6). The lease is for 36 months at $219 per month with $2,999 down. Whatever you do, do not fall in love with your particular truck: Toyota will want more than $25,000 for the three-year-old truck when you’re finished leasing it.

BMW i3 – $299/mo.

The BMW i3 is an aging electric car. It feels dated with avant-garde styling, a 153-mile range and a not-so-ludicrous 170 horsepowwer. But if you want to cut your emissions now while waiting for the EV new car market to grow, the i3 could be compelling. BMW includes a $7,500 lease credit on the i3. For the base model, that works out to $299 per month over 36 months with $3,000 down.

Lexus RX 350 – $399/mo.

Lexus has September lease deals on its most popular model, the midsize RX SUV. This deal will vary slightly by region, but with Lexus throwing in $2,500 in lease cash, you can get an RX 350 AWD for 36 months at $399 per month with $3,999 due at signing.

Acura MDX – $409/mo.

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The Acura MDX is a thoroughly anonymous-looking three-row crossover. But it’s among the more compelling ones to drive. Through the end of October, you can lease a SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive) version for $409 per month over 36 months with a $2,590 down payment.

Chrysler Pacifica – $229/mo.

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Sometimes, you need to embrace that minivan life. It’s not so bad. Chrysler has a promotion on the Touring L version (the fourth of nine trims) of the Pacifica for September. You can lease one for only $229 per month over 36 months with $2,949 due at signing.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Subaru’s New Infotainment System Cures the Brand’s Worst Problem

The unchanging nature of Subarus, manifested in their stubbornly utilitarian designs, has been part of the brand’s enduring charm. But that homespun quality isn’t at all charming when it comes to infotainment: Subaru’s systems have, at times, recalled Amish buggies in a world of modern automobiles.

That all changes with the 2020 Legacy sedan and Outback crossover. In a rare worst-to-first scenario, these latest Subarus have gone all Tesla, with a tablet-style infotainment unit that out-styles and outperforms virtually any mainstream competitor. 

Driving the all-new Legacy in Ojai, California, I was quickly won over by the Starlink multimedia system and its vertically-oriented 11.6-inch screen. The high-definition screen’s huge real estate and handsome, info-rich navigation graphics — the latter courtesy of TomTom — made it a breeze to stay on course. Drivers can instantly rejigger key icons on the screen, as with any smartphone. Electromagnetic near-field communication allows you to pair Android phones simply by touching them to the unit’s NFC scanner, with no Bluetooth link or time-wasting configuration required.

The split-screen display is another first in a Subaru. The system, developed with Japanese supplier Denso, gets its own dedicated processor, with a separate processor for HVAC and other controls. And it all worked flawlessly: No hiccups, no headaches, no digging for the owner’s manual. It’s a whirlwind change from previous Subarus, whose tinny audio systems, scrawny displays and scrawnier buttons recalled the aftermarket stereos that enterprising sorts once sold out of the back of an airbrushed van. 

“Historically, we got dinged for our head units,” says Charles Ballard, Subaru’s product and technology specialist. “The big goal was to get them up to speed, with something that’s fast and intuitive like your phone.” 

The system also avoids too-radical changes that might upset Subie loyalists. You’ll still find trusty analog knobs and buttons for functions like volume, radio tuning and onboard temperature. In doing so, Subaru heeded the advice of New Englanders and other customers in wintry climes, who wear gloves in cars and prefer a few traditional knobs to onscreen controls.  

This being Subaru, the system also offers apps that should appeal to the brand’s oh-so-outdoorsy demographic. The National Parks app, created by Chimani, brings detailed info on all 59 of America’s parkland treasures. eBird, developed in partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a crowd-sourced bird watching app, which lets users track species and the locations where they’ve been spotted. 

For its part, these Subaru species may continue to be spotted most often in the wilds of New England or the Pacific Northwest. But wherever you drive these Subarus, the Starlink system offers ongoing proof of automotive evolution. 

2019 Toyota GT86 Review

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The 10 Awesome Cars That Owners Keep Longer Than Others

The website iSeeCars has released data on what vehicles owners keep the longest. It’s a formidable list of cars, trucks and SUV. Owners, it seems, really love their robust family SUVs and charming two-seat sports cars. (Many of them are favorites of Gear Patrol readers and writers alike, suggesting perhaps that we all have excellent taste.)

The Top 10 cars lingering around in garages are listed below.

1. Toyota Land Cruiser  – 11.4 Years

It’s no surprise to see the Toyota Land Cruiser top this list. People buy them because of the build quality that keeps them running virtually forever. They accrue charm with age. Toyota seldom updates it, giving little reason to invest in a new one. Doing so is not cheap.

2. Chevrolet Corvette – 10.5 Years

Two-seat sports cars tend not to be daily drivers, so wners likely aren’t concerned with updating them as frequently as they might with their regular vehicles. The new 2020 Corvette or perhaps a crazy discount on an outgoing model may have Vette owners rethinking that stance, however.

3. Mercedes Benz SL-Class – 10.3 Years

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It takes longer to make a Mercedes SL-Class feel outmoded than with most cars. Plus, buying a new one is expensive, and they depreciate quickly; once the resale value plummets, you might as well hang onto it.

4. Audi TT – 10.2 Years

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While not a performance beast, the Audi TT will be a future classic. It has sleek Bauhaus style and inimitable charm. That charm, perhaps, is the reason owners keep them running so long.

5. Ford Expedition – 10.1 Years

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Kids destroy new and lovely things. Buying one workhorse Expedition and riding it through the peak hauling years before downsizing is a sound strategy to avoid forking over big bucks for a new car over and over again.

6. Ford Mustang – 10 Years

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Most buyers are drawn to Mustangs for the timeless charm. Those characteristic looks and sound stay largely the same. Why upgrade? For the $10,000 racing stripes?

7. Toyota 4Runner – 10 Years

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The Toyota 4Runner‘s position is similar to the Land Cruiser. You buy it for its strength and durability. It accrues charm as it ages, and has strong resale value. Toyota has redone it only once since 2002, which is not an incentive to rush out and buy another.

8. Porsche 911 – 9.9 Years

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Porsche makes advancements with every new 911 generation. But buying a new Porsche is expensive. The 997-generation (2004-2012) cars are quite well regarded within the 911 lineage. Most are sparingly driven. Why make the transition?

9. Toyota Sequoia – 9.9 Years

The Sequoia has the full-size family SUV factor, plus the Toyota build quality factor. Add in that Toyota last released an all-new one for the 2007 model year, and the reasons to trade it in are few.

10. Toyota Avalon – 9.7 Years

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The Avalon is an outlier on this list. It’s not a robust family hauler or a sports car. But, again, the purpose of buying a Toyota is to drive them into the ground. (The new one also went a bit too heavy with the grille size.)

Upgrade Your Tailgating Game With These Awesome Items for Your Car

Football season has officially arrived, which means much of America is about to engage in one of our great national pastimes: gorging on food and beverages in stadium parking lots to avoid exorbitant prices closer to the gridiron. This practice, in case you just arrived from Mars, is referred to as “tailgating.” It’s a multifaceted affair involving food and drink preparation, seating, entertainment and charging for personal electronic devices. In other words, it requires plenty of gear.

Here, then, ae are some helpful gear and accessory suggestions you can use to up your personal tailgating game. (Sadly, we can’t do anything to help your team.)


Dometic CFX50W Powered Cooler

Your game day spread is only as good as your storage capacity and your ability to regulate temperature. This Dometic cooler has you covered. It eliminates ice from the equation. It can refrigerate and deep freeze. It can be temperature regulated via an app. It can even charge your devices. And helpfully, it’ll shut itself off before it drains your car battery.

Hammaka Trailer Hitch Stand Cradle Chairs

You’re about to spend four hours on a hard bench with a small allotment butt space. Luxuriate beforehand with these Hammaka trailer hitch suspended cradle chairs. There are no finer words when you’re looking to relax a bit after a week of heavy adulting than “easy three-piece assembly.” (Be advised: The camouflage version will cost you a bit extra.)

Sherpa 100 AC Portable Power Bank

If there’s one mantra for our digital lives in 2019, it’s “always be charging.” That’s doubly true on game day, where you’re unlikely to encounter a USB port in the wild.  This Sherpa power bank is portable and supports all manners of charging, including wireless.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Bluetooth Speaker

Tailgaters enjoy listening to tunes, especially those of the team-specific pump-up variety. The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 was the Gear Patrol editors’ pick for the best portable Bluetooth speaker. Jokes about the all-new “magic button” functionality will be good fun for all involved.

Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weber is the biggest name in grilling with good reason: They offer a wide range of high-quality affordable products to suit every taste and need. This Smokey Joe grill is lightweight, portable and costs less than $50.

Bulldogology Premium SUV Cargo Liner Seat Cover

You like your friends. You don’t necessarily trust them handling food and beverages around your stunning vintage Land Rover Defender. Consider the Premium SUV Cargo Liner Seat Cover from Bulldogology. It’s waterproof and washable, with a non-slip backing. If it’s good enough for a dog, it can probably handle your college buddies.

Tailbrella Tailgate Hitch Umbrella Canopy

Umbrella stands are heavy, and elaborate canopies can be a pain to set up. Spare your back and stay out of the sun with this Tailbrella umbrella canopy that hooks to your trailer hitch. It has a tilt feature, and you can easily pack it up for easy storage.

Wrenches & Bones Rear License Plate Mounted Bottle Opener

Your bottle opener may be the most essential bit of gear in your tailgating arsenal. It’s also the easiest to forget or misplace. Instead of weighing down your keychain or befriending some insufferable MacGyver who can pop a top with a dollar bill, why not mount the bottle opener to your vehicle? (Just keep in mind that if you’re in a car like the Jeep Wrangler, which draws ample police attention, this handy device may not help your cause.)

Mytcase Protective TV Carrying Case

Let’s be honest: The big game you really care about on Saturday or Sunday is likely happening elsewhere, so you’ll need to watch it on TV. Transporting your flatscreen to the tailgate can be a nuisance, not to mention setting it up and trying to keep the glare off it. Do all of the aforementioned tasks with the Mytcase Protective TV Carrying Case, which can fit screens up to 43 inches.

FrostGuard NFL Premium Winter Windshield Cover

The only thing more frustrating than spending four hours exposed to the elements is coming back to clean off your car. Keep your windshield safe from snow (or your interior protected from heat) and to rep your favorite NFL team at the same time.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Driving Jerry Seinfeld’s Mercedes-Benz E60 Renntech RS

Back in 1997, Mercedes-Benz had yet to formally acquire aftermarket tuning group AMG. But when it wanted to impress Jerry Seinfeld with a loaner Tri-Star, it couldn’t just give him a base model E420. Seinfeld needed something ratcheted up; all the soup for him. So Merc turned to well-known tuner Renntech, which installed more than $100,000 in updates in an E-Class — resulting in an E60 that remains a diabolical land rocket some 22 years later.

From the outside, the car appears bone stock. Only embossed Renntech logos on the exhaust tips offer a hint of the demons lurking within the drivetrain. Open the door and a sill plate emblazoned with “J.S. Edition” greets you, as does a comely blueberry-and-black-leather interior accentuated with bird’s-eye maple wood and an Alcantara headliner.

Turn the key to awaken an enlarged 6.0-liter V-8, featuring larger intake and exhaust valves and a more aggressive camshaft. Renntech’s completely stainless steel exhaust, boasting a sport resonator and muffler, emits such a deep, throaty note that you start salivating at the prospect of hearing it at full gallop.

With the throttle open wide, the E60’s growl is intoxicating. 434 horses and a staggering (for its day) 525 lb-ft of twist mean there are few cars of its age this sleeper can’t best. Mat the throttle on take-off, and you’re rewarded with satisfying wheel spin before the 18-inch magnesium monoblocks bite down into the asphalt and chuck you backward into the plush seat. The tear from 0 to 60 happens in 4.6 seconds. For reference, that’s faster than a 1997 Acura NSX or Ferrari F335 Berlinetta. 

A specially-modified Mercedes-Benz five-speed automatic transmission pumps the power out through a limited-slip diff, which does a wonderful job of propulsion. A potential Mercedes customer was on a test drive of a new Mercedes-AMG GT C right ahead of us and would mash the gas whenever the road cleared. The E60 caught up in a few seconds, every single time. 

Immense work was done to the suspension, and the result is tangible. A rear subframe modification with aluminum links was completed and specially-valved, fully-adjustable Koni dampers were added, along with Renntech-spec lowering springs and larger front and rear anti-roll bars. This sucker is planted. It feels impossible to shake it loose in a corner and there’s virtually no body roll, though it’s not so stiff that it’ll smash your teeth when it laps up the occasional pothole. The steering is impeccably dialed-in, giving you proper feedback while maintaining precision. 

Perhaps the most admirable addition to the E60 is hiding in plain sight: the RS custom steel wide body kit that includes flared fenders all around. The amount of work that it must’ve taken to achieve a stock look here must be applauded. As a result, the car has presence. 

After about 10,000 (presumably joy-filled) miles, Seinfeld returned the car to Mercedes, who let it sit for a spell before deciding to send it to the crusher. Mercifully, the Mercedes-Benz Classics Center got wind of the impending peril and swooped in to claim it for themselves. Today, it lives amongst the brand’s heritage fleet in Southern California.

Most well-maintained old cars feel like a treat to drive these days, but this E60 is something else. What Mercedes and Renntech created the first time out of the gate was so perfect, it can still ruin your perception of many modern cars.

A Bugatti Designer Reveals How His New Car Channels One of the Coolest Supercars of the ’90s

If you’re the head of exterior design for, say, Ford, odds are good you see your work every day of your life — whether you’re in the office or not. If you’re the head of exterior design for Bugatti, however, you’re unlikely to run into an example of your penmanship parked beside you when you pop over to Wawa for a hangover hero on Sunday afternoon. As a result, Frank Heyl is unlikely to be randomly spurred to talk about his job — which could explain why he’s such an effusive interviewee. (Except when it comes to commenting on future product, at which point he sticks to his official line with a consistency that would make Robert Mueller jealous.)

Unlike some senior figures at automakers, when we ran into him at the Bugatti stand at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this year, we barely needed to ask a question to spur him on; Heyl simply began chatting away, dishing out facts and details about the new Centodieci limited-run supercar the brand unveiled there with the pride of a new parent.

It helped that Bugatti had hauled out a pristine copy of the Centodieci’s inspiration, the EB110 of the Nineties, for Heyl to riff off, parking it alongside the new speed machine. The decision to go with an homage to the groundbreaking-for-its-time EB110, says Heyl, was part of the company’s plans to celebrate its 110th birthday this year by looking to its past. Bugatti’s previous designs have often paid tribute to the brand’s better-known cars of the 1930s to varying degrees, from the subtle curves of the original Veyron to the nouveau-Thirties act of reverence called La Voiture Noire, a one-off revealed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show that, at $18.9 million, is the most expensive new car ever sold.

The Bugatti Centodieci alongside the EB110 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Photo by Bugatti.

But the Centodieci marks the first time the current Volkswagen Group-owned iteration of the esteemed carmaker has used design to acknowledge the company’s brief Italian resurrection by Romano Artioli in the late Eighties and early Nineties. That eight-year span saw the creation of just one car, the EB110 — but that quad-turbocharged car helped define the concept of the modern-day supercar, paving the way for the current iteration of the brand.

“We thought it was about time to do this,” he says.

Unlike, say, The Lion King, the Centodieci isn’t just a remake of a Nineties icon using 2019 tech. “We didn’t want to do a copy of [the EB110] with new technology,” Heyl says. Instead, the new car draws on the proportions — which Heyl says are the most important part of a design — to emulate the wedgy shape of the Italian-made French car on the German-owned French-made chassis shared with the Chiron. 

It presented a few issues for Heyl and his team. The EB110’s primary designer, Giampaolo Benediniis an architect by profession, hence the car’s straight lines; but those forms don’t pair well with Bugatti’s modern trademark of a dropping beltline, which Heyl refers to as “a very sovereign statement for a supercar.” In order to merge the two design languages, the design team wound up shrinking Bugatti’s trademark horseshoe grille and enlarging the tail to raise the rear end, enabling them to, in Heyl’s words, “shoot the lines through to the lower front.”

The Bugatti Centodieci. Photo by Bugatti.

That back end is home to one of Heyl’s favorite design details: the tail lamps, an eight-unit, 3D-printed cluster that stretches across the bootylicious tail. Mounted below them are eight 3D-printed titanium exhaust tips, the exit for the 1,578-horsepower W16’s waste gases. That, for the record, is 100 horses more than the Bugatti Divo, the handling-emphasizing Chiron variant upon which the Centodieci is based. Yet you’d never know the similarity between the two went beyond the bougie badge — even in spite of the mere six months the carmaker spent developing the car.

“We did it in record time,” Heyl says, citing the use of virtual reality goggles amongst the tools used to expedite the design process.

And yet, while it only took half a year to go from idea to Pebble Beach-going reality, all 10 examples scheduled to be built have already been spoken for. That’s not just because of the ravenous desire among the rich for whatever’s new and next, though; it’s also due to the way the company plans out its special models. Before Bugatti even gives a one-off or limited-run car the green light for production, they make sure they have handshake agreements with enough buyers to sell out. As Heyl puts it, “You just take the Divo list, call them up, say ‘This is what we’re doing, are you interested?’”

Admittedly, the Centodieci is still a little undercooked in one or two spots. The headlamp openings are correct, Heyl says, all the way down to the vents there to evacuate pressure from the front wheel wells — but the lights seen here aren’t the production ones. (The final versions will slide into the existing slot just fine, he says.)

But the company has plenty of time to firm up the details. Heyl says the car won’t be on the streets until 2022, until after the previously-announced limited-run cars have made their way through the production process.

“We are very well aware that we should not flood the market,” he says. “This will be the last for a while now.”

One-of-five Pagani Huayra Imola gives ‘track car’ a different meaning

This past week, the Supercar Owners Circle (SOC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with a party and drive in the Swiss Alps. The gathering hosted some of the most exclusive, best-performing, and best-designed cars ever released, some old, some new. To the surprise of its attendees, it also hosted the unveiling of a sure-fire future Italian collectible. One of the most-talked-about cars in attendance was the Pagani Huayra Imola, a one-of-five limited-edition that pays tribute to Italy’s famous racing circuit. This is the first time the car has been seen in public. 

Imola racetrack, also known as Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, is located in north central Italy outside of Bologna. It’s one of the most notable tracks in Europe, and it previously held court for Formula One races. Now it’s serving as inspiration to one of the best modern-day Italian performance automakers, Pagani Automobili. 

The Huayra Imola was released quietly in relation to the gargantuan nature of the car, as there are no official images, releases or posts directly from Pagani. So, all information here is gleaned from social media photos, videos and captions. The Imola, of which only five examples will be built, was apparently first unveiled at the track on July 29, but it has been kept a secret until this past weekend. The first example was reportedly delivered to Oleg Egorov, the owner and founder of specialty aftermarket shop TopCar Design. 

We thought we’d seen the Huayra taken to its extreme with the BC editions, but the Imola has an even wilder exterior aerodynamic package. Through extensive use of carbon fiber, the front and rear have been redesigned with a new splitter and new diffuser. There are also several new intakes, new side skirts, a new spine along the rear of the car, and a new wing. The seven-spoke wheels are different, too. Many of the alterations are highlighted by bright red-orange accents that outline the edgy designs. 

Inside, which can be seen on Oleg’s Instagram, the panels have been fitted with prints that honor Leonardo da Vinci and his work, including the Mona Lisa and his preliminary sketches of wings. 

For now, we do not know where the Imola stands on performance, but some of the videos show it in motion doing some lighthearted drag racing. Check out the images and video above, below, and all over social.

Lamborghini Sian: Most Powerful Lamborghini Ever Revealed

The Lamborghini Sian has been officially unveiled. The limited edition model is based off the Aventador platform and debuts some exciting technology set to bleed down into future Lamborghini supercars. It has been unveiled in time for a public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 which starts next week.

The Sian uses Lamborghini’s preferred engine, the V12, and couples it to a hybrid drivetrain. The V12 is said to produce 785 hp with the addition of titanium intake valves. The electric element is run from a 48 volt system and uses a “supercapacitor” to store power from an e-motor. The e-motor produces an additional 34 hp for an overall total of 819 hp.

The Lamborghini Sian therefore generates the highest power levels of any Lamborghini to date. As Lamborghini are not using a conventional lithium battery cell, they are able to retain 3 times as much power for comparable weight. It is an evolution of an existing innovation found within the starter motor of a conventional Aventador.

A regenerative braking system, unique to Lamborghini allows the motor to produce a power boost at speeds of up to 130 km/h. After 130 km/h, the combustion engine does 100% of the work. As a result, the Sian hits 109 km/h in just 2.8 seconds with a top speed of over 350 km/h.

Lamborghini Sian Specs

The design also provides a taste of what to expect for the future. The Y shape is evident through the NACA air ducts on the door, the glass elements, the lights and the engine cover. A Periscopio tunnel adds a throwback to the original Countach. The silhouette allegedly carries inspiration from Marcello Gandini.

Lamborghini. Plans a production run of just 63 cars with all 63 delivered through the exclusive Ad Personam division. All 63 are accounted for!

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2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante Review: Over-the-Top Drop-Top

A V12 engine is wholly unnecessary these days. Most automotive companies are unveiling hybrid and electric powertrains, or yanking insane power out of tiny engines; witness how the mechanical wizards over at Mercedes-AMG have managed to coax a staggering 416 horses out of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The future of transportation seems to have found many replacements for displacement.

Then you fire up the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. And after those 12 glorious cylinders roar to life, all horrorshow and delightfully demonic noise, you realize, “We can never give up the V12. This must be defended to our dying breath.”

The Good: It’s an Aston Martin, so the exterior is as beautiful as they come. From first glance at the menacing mustached-grilled face — elongated and widened to help shovel air to that ginormous engine — to the completely new hindquarters that house the folding roof and it’s mechanisms, the DBS Superleggera Volante is sexy, aggressive and commanding.

Subtle Easter eggs abound, such as the way the front quarter panel side vents match the angle of the hood vent strakes. The rear haunches have been enlarged, which is most noticeable when you spend extra time moving the side mirrors to see past them; you’ll need that view unobstructed given the frequent rearward glances before you rip past all the lesser machines during your travels. A plush interior provides maximum comfort on long hauls, making it an ideal grand tourer.

Who It’s For: Anyone who believes V8s are child’s play, who finds 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of twist appealing, and who yearns to feel the wind ripping his hair out with the top — and accelerator — down. (And who has $335,000 to spare.)

Watch Out For: The Volante is a two-plus-two, so there technically is a backseat. However, no adult humans will be able to contort their bodies as to utilize the rear seats for any real period of time. Trunk capacity is limited, given the addition of the roof mechanism; owners intending on using the Volante as a road-tripper best practice packing light. Speaking of weight reduction, the use of Superleggera — Italian for “superlight” — is a giant misnomer, as the Superleggera Volante tips the scales at a hefty 4,450 pounds, though the addition of 220 pounds (for the drop-top) only mildly dulls the scream to 60 by 0.2 seconds over its hardtop sibling.

Alternatives: Only a handful of 12-cylinder super-steeds exist. You’ve got the W12-powered Bentley Continental GT convertible, which, while heavier at 5,019 pounds, bests the DBS Volante to 60 mph by 0.2 seconds. The Winged B’s luxe interior also trounces the DBS Superleggera Volante’s, and it all clocks in $100,000 under the Aston’s base price. The Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster, which begins at $421,321, churns out 730 horsepower (15 more ponies than the Aston), and the sprint to 60 happens in an eye-watering 2.9 seconds. Lastly, there’s the Ferrari 812 Superfast, a $363,730 stunner from Maranello that gas 788 prancing horses on tap. It’ll win all of the V12 drag races, catapulting you to 60 in 2.8 seconds. (It only comes in coupe form, though.)

Review: The backdrop for the DBS Superleggera Volante test drive was Tarragona, Spain, a picturesque mountainous region not terribly far from Barcelona known for its vineyards. So chosen because of the nation’s impeccably maintained serpentine roads, the assembled automotive media wound up being welcomed by triple-digit temps and a slew of wildfires dotting the countryside. Heat and smoke plumes be damned; with a 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 at your disposal, you can outrun the fires and drop the top to make your own cooling breeze.

The DBS stems from the DB11, which lies a step down in the Aston hierarchy; as such, the Superleggera Volante borrows the fabric-and-metal roof system from the DB11 convertible. Those 715 available horses and a lightly-tweaked suspension for improved road manners help provide a top speed of 211 mph, regardless of the roof’s position. White-knuckle the squared-leather tiller and mash the accelerator, and that top-speed integer becomes very real as this road-legal weapon fires to 60 seconds in 3.5 seconds and the massive heap of torque keeps you pinned against the seat.

With the roof lowered, the exhaust notes are full and rich, even in the calmest driving mode of “GT.”  That softens the throttle mapping, suspension, and the ubiquitous eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox‘s shifts. Even in that most sedate setting, though, that honking engine delivers ample brawn, and you just need to bring the might to the gas pedal to get the Aston lurching forth. One area for improvement may be the transmission tune here, which frequently scrambles downward in search of the ideal gear when not required.

Flip the switch to Sport or Sport Plus and the Superleggera Volante howls with glee. Literally: Burbles and cracks bolster the exhaust notes, while the throttle response and suspension become scalpel-sharp. The Volante’s 50/50 weight distribution, coupled with communicative feedback from the steering wheel, make impassioned sprints and passes a proper hoot. When the full whoosh of 664 lb-ft of torque arrives at the rear wheels at a mere 1,800 rpm, the Volante responds with the slightest wiggle of its tail before hurtling you down the road. Rinse and repeat, and you’ll also elicit the occasional cackle of delight from the passenger seat.

Despite its relative largeness, the DBS Volante’s agility through corners while remaining glued to Tarragona’s terra firma is admirable. It dances around pinched hairpins with aplomb, booms from the exhaust echoing off steep surrounding mountain slopes. Switch to manual mode for transmission control and keep your foot buried all the way to the red line on the tach, and you’ll find every expanse of road is suddenly too short for the car. Swift dives onto the carbon brake rotors are rewarded with immediate stops sans drama or chatter. She stops as good as she goes.

Verdict: A surprising amount of our test drive route was closed, either due to the raging wildfires or other accidents, forcing us to forge a new path back to our endpoint. Ordinarily, hunting for an open road would be a chore — especially after encountering the umpteenth closure barricade. In the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante, it just meant extra time flogging the bejeezus out of that V12. And in a car this good, every extra second was welcome.

Powertrain: 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12; eight-speed automatic; rear-wheel-drive
Horsepower: 715
Torque: 664 lb-ft
0-60 MPH: 3.5 seconds

Aston Martin hosted us and provided this product for review.

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Aston Martin Vanquish 25: Ian Callum’s First Solo Project

Ian Callum’s first move post-Jaguar has been revealed as a re-boot of the Aston Martin Vanquish. The Aston Martin Vanquish 25 brings the classic, turn of the century Aston Martin shape into the modern era. Just 25 examples are planned, all with personal touches, created with input from owners.

Of course, Ian Callum originally designed the Aston Martin Vanquish so knows the design intricately. The new package includes reworked body panels. The look changes very little from the familiar shape of the first generation Vanquish. The swollen rear arches remain alongside the newly re-profiled carbonfibre bumpers front and rear.

While the styling changes are detail oriented, Callum has also managed to secure some performance and dynamic modifications. For example, the ride height sits 10 mm lower and the arches swallow 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Aston Martin Vanquish 25 receives a set of performance enhancements which boost the 6.0 litre V12 by 60 hp, to 580 hp. Each car will receive a new induction system, exhaust system and camshafts. New springs and dampers, stiffer sway bars, and a set of carbon ceramic brakes finish the performance package.

Inside, significant work has been carried out to replace the ageing centre console. Gone is the plastic Jaguar XK switchgear, replaced with a carbon fibre facia and a modern touchscreen interface. Callum has designed bespoke air vents and side view mirrors. The rear seats have been removed too, replaced with Mulberry luggage.

The project is Callum’s first since leaving Jaguar earlier this year. It started with R-Reforged, part of Swiss race team AF Racing who have been working on the package for around 18 months.

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Iconic McLaren F1 Took 18 Months to Restore at MSO

McLaren’s special operations division, MSO, recently released details of a McLaren F1 restoration. The British company carried out an extensive restoration of a road-legal F1 on behalf of its owner.

MSO left no aspect untouched, also putting the car through its McLaren F1 Certification programme. The car in question is chassis number 63.

McLaren completed the restoration work in June, putting in almost 3,000 hours of work. MSO began the 18-month restoration by removing the body and drivetrain from the car. The interior was then re-trimmed in the original Semi Aniline leather, which was a one-off for this car.

The leather is finished in Woking Grey – a colour reportedly inspired by the often slate-coloured English sky. The dash is covered in Woking Grey Alcantara with the seats re-trimmed in Woking Grey leather with a red perforated Alcantara.

Once the interior was complete, McLaren set about repainting the bodywork. This F1 was originally delivered in the iconic shade of Magnesium Silver. It took MSO nearly 900 hours to complete a perfect respray.

The 6.1-litre normally-aspirated engine was then stripped and rebuilt. To ensure it produced the correct power, McLaren put the powertrain through a dyno test before reintroducing it to the chassis. Finally, the dampers were sent back to Bilstein for refurbishment and the driveshafts and hubs were also sent back to the original supplier for rebuild.

McLaren F1 Steering Wheel

It’s fair to say that this McLaren F1 is as good as new! As part of the process, the car receives a Certificate of Authenticity and the owner, a bespoke illustrated book documenting the history of their car as well as a Genesis Speed Form. It is set to debut at the Hampton Court Concours this coming weekend!

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McLaren F1 chassis 063 restored by MSO is a beauty in silver

McLaren Special Operations announced its F1 Certified program one year ago at the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance in England with an F1 GTR race car restored to as-new condition. The skunkworks division must have been working on its next beauty at the same time, F1 road car chassis 063 built in 1994, as MSO is ready to show the second fully restored chassis after 18 months and nearly 3,000 hours of work. 

After stripping the drivetrain and body of 063, MSO stitched up the interior to original spec. That meant sourcing ten suitable hides, preparing them as semi-aniline and dying them Woking Grey. The three seats are sewn up in matching Woking Grey, the driver’s seat set off by a red, perforated Alcantara center panel. More Woking Grey leather goes on the dashboard and as piping for the Woking Gray floor mats over the same-colored carpeting. The steering wheel is new-old stock, pulled from a container of original F1 parts McLaren has kept in storage for decades.

Technicians rebuilt the 6.1-liter BMW-sourced V12, then dyno tested it to ensure the original output of 618 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The Bilstein dampers were returned to the manufacturer for as-new refurbishment, as were the driveshafts and hubs. Then came reinstalling the body panels, repainted over the course of almost 900 hours in the original Magnesium Silver hue. A final bout of road and track testing verified chassis 063 was ready to be returned to its owner, along with a Certificate of Authenticity, an illustrated book documenting the history of the car, and a laser-scanned 3D model of the F1. 

Any other owners of the 106 F1s built between 1993 and 1998 — 64 standard road cars and 28 GTR racers — are welcome to avail themselves of the MSO service. For the second year running, MSO will display its work at the Hampton Court Concours from September 6-8.

Some of the Best Tailgating Accessories for Your Car

Football season has officially arrived, which means much of America is about to engage in one of our great national pastimes: gorging on food and beverages in stadium parking lots to avoid exorbitant prices closer to the gridiron. This practice, in case you just arrived from Mars, is referred to as “tailgating.” It’s a multifaceted affair involving food and drink preparation, seating, entertainment and charging for personal electronic devices. In other words, it requires plenty of gear.

Here, then, ae are some helpful gear and accessory suggestions you can use to up your personal tailgating game. (Sadly, we can’t do anything to help your team.)


Dometic CFX50W Powered Cooler

Your game day spread is only as good as your storage capacity and your ability to regulate temperature. This Dometic cooler has you covered. It eliminates ice from the equation. It can refrigerate and deep freeze. It can be temperature regulated via an app. It can even charge your devices. And helpfully, it’ll shut itself off before it drains your car battery.

Hammaka Trailer Hitch Stand Cradle Chairs

You’re about to spend four hours on a hard bench with a small allotment butt space. Luxuriate beforehand with these Hammaka trailer hitch suspended cradle chairs. There are no finer words when you’re looking to relax a bit after a week of heavy adulting than “easy three-piece assembly.” (Be advised: The camouflage version will cost you a bit extra.)

Sherpa 100 AC Portable Power Bank

If there’s one mantra for our digital lives in 2019, it’s “always be charging.” That’s doubly true on game day, where you’re unlikely to encounter a USB port in the wild.  This Sherpa power bank is portable and supports all manners of charging, including wireless.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Bluetooth Speaker

Tailgaters enjoy listening to tunes, especially those of the team-specific pump-up variety. The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 was the Gear Patrol editors’ pick for the best portable Bluetooth speaker. Jokes about the all-new “magic button” functionality will be good fun for all involved.

Weber Smokey Joe Premium 14-Inch Portable Grill

Weber is the biggest name in grilling with good reason: They offer a wide range of high-quality affordable products to suit every taste and need. This Smokey Joe grill is lightweight, portable and costs less than $50.

Bulldogology Premium SUV Cargo Liner Seat Cover

You like your friends. You don’t necessarily trust them handling food and beverages around your stunning vintage Land Rover Defender. Consider the Premium SUV Cargo Liner Seat Cover from Bulldogology. It’s waterproof and washable, with a non-slip backing. If it’s good enough for a dog, it can probably handle your college buddies.

Tailbrella Tailgate Hitch Umbrella Canopy

Umbrella stands are heavy, and elaborate canopies can be a pain to set up. Spare your back and stay out of the sun with this Tailbrella umbrella canopy that hooks to your trailer hitch. It has a tilt feature, and you can easily pack it up for easy storage.

Wrenches & Bones Rear License Plate Mounted Bottle Opener

Your bottle opener may be the most essential bit of gear in your tailgating arsenal. It’s also the easiest to forget or misplace. Instead of weighing down your keychain or befriending some insufferable MacGyver who can pop a top with a dollar bill, why not mount the bottle opener to your vehicle? (Just keep in mind that if you’re in a car like the Jeep Wrangler, which draws ample police attention, this handy device may not help your cause.)

Mytcase Protective TV Carrying Case

Let’s be honest: The big game you really care about on Saturday or Sunday is likely happening elsewhere, so you’ll need to watch it on TV. Transporting your flatscreen to the tailgate can be a nuisance, not to mention setting it up and trying to keep the glare off it. Do all of the aforementioned tasks with the Mytcase Protective TV Carrying Case, which can fit screens up to 43 inches.

FrostGuard NFL Premium Winter Windshield Cover

The only thing more frustrating than spending four hours exposed to the elements is coming back to clean off your car. Keep your windshield safe from snow (or your interior protected from heat) and to rep your favorite NFL team at the same time.

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