Archive for April, 2012

2012 Kia Soul

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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The Soul is most recognized as a dancing hamster-mobile, but can it also transport dogs? The answer is “yes, but only loose or belted, not crated” from my perspective. With the rear seats up there is next to no cargo space behind them and the seats, as in the other Kias Four Paw Drive had reviewed, do NOT fold flat. The interior space is great for a vehicle of this size thanks to the boxy design, but will not accommodate crating without some form of platform to level the floor surface.

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If you’re handy with tools or ride with your dogs out of crates, the Soul does still have some possibilities, so here are its dimensions:

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 43.75″

Width at widest point: 51.25″ at the edge of the passenger doors

Tallest point: 33.5″

Lowest point: 30″ for 6″ starting at the hatch

Cargo depth with all rows up: At the floor, 24.25″, but at the narrowest point, only 16″ which is too narrow for any crate but those small enough to stop before reaching the back of the seat.

Cargo depth with the second (and only) row down: 47.75″ – the second row does NOT fold flat, so crates would need to have something to rest on other than the seat backs to remain level.

Hatch measurements: 32-37″ wide, with the narrowest point at the top, 29″ tall

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MPG city: base model 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine: 27 mpg; engine in other packages: 26 mpg.

MPG highway: base model 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine: 36 mpg; engine in other packages: 34 mpg.

The Soul does offer several helpful features for those transporting dogs regularly, though:

  • Optional power outlets in the rear cargo area
  • Optional sunroof that opens completely

The optional sunroof and the shallow cargo area does mean that air circulation in the rear of the vehicle is quite generous, even without extra vents in the rear passenger or cargo areas. Unfortunately, there is no included spare tire, but space under the flooring of the rear cargo area holds either the included inflation kit or a spare tire you provide, so if you need to replace a tire, all items in the cargo area must be removed!

The Soul is a unique small passenger vehicle, but if you’re looking to travel with crated dogs, there are many better options out there. If Kia does offer fold flat seats at some point, it will greatly enhance the Soul’s function as a dog vehicle, so it’s always wise to look at the enhancements made between model years.

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2012 Kia Sportage

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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I often hear the Kia Sportage mentioned when I am discussing my vehicle search with other dog people. It’s usually classed with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV as a decent small SUV for toting crated dogs, but is it? I checked one out recently and here’s what I found: the Sportage could be a pretty versatile dog vehicle, like the CRV and RAV4 but for one small detail… the rear passenger row does not fold flat! This is not an issue for those riding their dogs belted on the back seat or loose in the cargo area, but it would require a custom platform to allow crated dogs to ride on a level surface in most crate sizes. The cargo area itself is too shallow with the seats up for most crates to sit perpendicular to the hatch, but may allow one crate set parallel to the hatch, possibly two small crates side-by-side.

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In case you have smaller crates or ride dogs belted or loose, here are the dimensions for the Sportage:

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 39.75″

Width at widest point: 51.5″

Tallest point: 32″ measured at the “seam” where the folded second row starts.

Lowest point: 27″ for 10″ from the hatch.

Cargo depth with all rows up: At the floor, 39.25″, but at the narrowest point, only 28″

Cargo depth with the second (and only) row down: 59″ – the second row does NOT fold flat, so crates would need to have something to rest on other than the seat backs to remain level.

Hatch measurements: 42.25-43.25″ wide, with the narrowest point at the top and at the very bottom due to curved corners, , 27.25″ tall

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MPG city: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 22 mpg; 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 4WD: 21 mpg; turbo gas direct injection, 2WD: 22 mpg; turbo gas direct injection, 4WD: 20 mpg;

MPG highway: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 32 mpg; 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 4WD: 29 mpg; turbo gas direct injection, 2WD: 29 mpg; turbo gas direct injection, 4WD: 28 mpg;

The Sportage does offer several helpful features for those transporting dogs regularly, though, as with the Sorento, some aren’t available in the base model.

  • Optional power outlets in the rear cargo area
  • Optional panoramic sunroof above the front row and second row of seating; the section above the front row of seating opens completely, the section above the second row is fixed.

There were several disadvantages, some quite major, that anyone looking at the Sportage should consider. The primary issue I saw was the lack of a fold flat second row of seating as mentioned in the first section of this entry. In addition, as with all 2012 Kia hatches I looked at, the rear window does NOT open independently, so locking the hatch cuts off all air flow from that direction and there are no regular windows flanking the third row seating area, further limiting airflow in the rear cargo compartment when the vehicle is stopped. As is the case with most small SUVs, the Sportage does not offer extra vents in the rear passenger or cargo areas. Keep in mind, too, that the rear cargo area stores the spare tire under the flooring vs. under the vehicle, so if you need to replace a tire, all items in the cargo area must be removed!

Overall, the Sportage would be suitable only for those with small crated dogs, a single medium-sized crated dog, or those who transport dogs outside of crates. It is a nice small SUV overall, with some helpful features, but the layout inside does make it less functional than other similarly-sized vehicles on the market today.

2012 Kia Sorento

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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The Kia Sorento caught my eye last year when I was looking for more affordable 3rd row SUVs.  Initially I had put it far below the Toyota 4Runner I had in my top spot for my “next vehicle” because the rear window glass doesn’t open and the older models had poorer crash test results, but after my dealer visit today it’s giving the 4Runner a run for the top spot!

Top features that caught my eye: rear AC/heat vents on the columns behind the front row in all trim levels, additional vents on the columns behind the second row for models that include a third row of seating, 4WD that can be turned off when not in use, gas mileage *with* 4WD that is either 21/28 or 20/25 depending on the engine selected, and an optional panoramic sunroof that covers almost the entire roof!

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Now for the details you’re all looking for!

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 44.5″

Width at widest point: 53.25″, just past wheel wells

Tallest point: 34″ measured in the center of the cargo area, but same from roughly the hatch forward!

Cargo depth with all rows up: negligible, less than 12″

Cargo depth with third row down: 41″ on the floor, 35.25″ at the top of the seat backs. The second row does recline so I measured the depth with them set at the second reclining position, which is comfortable for passengers, but not significantly reclined.

**note: the hatch of the Sorento curves outward, so there is a slight decrease in depth of the cargo area from the center of the hatch toward the sides. This is especially important to consider if your crates measure close to the length of the cargo area.**

Cargo depth with the second and third row down: 69″ – the second row does NOT fold flat, so crates would need to have something to rest on other than the seat backs to remain level.

Hatch measurements: 32-48″ wide, with the narrowest point at the top, 30.75″ tall

MPG city: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 21 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 2WD: 22 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 4WD: 21 mpg; V6 engine, 2WD: 20 mpg; V6 engine, 4WD: 19 mpg.

MPG highway: 4 cylinder, fuel injected engine, 2WD: 29 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 2WD: 32 mpg; 4 cylinder, gasoline direct injection engine, 4WD: 28 mpg; V6 engine, 2WD: 26 mpg; V6 engine, 4WD: 25 mpg.

 

In addition to the flexible cargo area, the Sorento also includes a number of features that the serious dog nut will find helpful, though some aren’t available in the base model.

  • Spare tire accessible even when the cargo area is full – the spare is located below the vehicle and is easily accessed by using a “port” in the rear cargo section that lowers the tire without crawling under the vehicle. All the necessary tools are also located in the storage section at the rear of the cargo area (behind where the third row of seats would sit), so removal of crates may not be necessary to reach them.
  • Due to the third row seating, the majority of crating space, even with the second row of seating fully upright, is located in the passenger compartment vs. a crumple zone; this is super important if you’re ever rear ended with dogs riding in the back of your vehicle.
  • All 4WD models allow you to turn off the 4WD function to save on gas mileage when road conditions do not necessitate its use.
  • Optional lights in the rear cargo area
  • Optional power outlets behind the front console (facing the second row of seating) and in the rear cargo area
  • Optional panoramic sunroof above the front row  and second row of seating; the section above the front row of seating opens completely, the section above the second row is fixed.

 

There were several disadvantages, some quite major, that anyone looking at the Sorento should consider.  The primary issue I saw was the lack of a fold flat second row of seating – this means that additional supports are necessitated to ensure comfortable crate positioning vs. allowing a quick “pop the crates in and go” set up. In addition, the rear window does NOT open independently, so locking the hatch cuts off all air flow from that direction.  Similarly, there are no regular windows flanking the third row seating area, further limiting airflow in the rear cargo compartment when the vehicle is stopped.  Finally, as with many vehicles, some of the nice comfort features that many dog people find useful require increasing the trim level or adding additional packages to the vehicle, increasing the purchase cost.

Overall, the Sorento appears to be a good mid-size SUV option, especially for those who would like to carry both crated dogs and have room for more than one human passenger and I can’t help but notice that the gas mileage will leave more money for trial entries or training classes than many similarly sized vehicles!

Today I took a trip to our local Kia dealership, Bob King Kia in Winston-Salem, NC, and spent several hours poring over four different vehicle models.

I went into the visit with a very “get in, get my info, and get out” mindset, but quickly found myself truly enjoying the vehicle research with the help of Tom Shiner, an extremely helpful and welcoming salesperson who I had worked with briefly a few months ago at the start of my serious research phase. Tom has a dog himself, so we talked dogs for a good portion of the visit which was a nice bonus.

I solely took measurements and noted features on the Sportage, Soul, and Sedona, but I took the Sorento out on a test drive as well since it’s a vehicle I’m seriously considering myself. Detailed reviews of each vehicle will be up on the blog soon, so stay tuned!