Archive for July, 2012

2006 Ford Escape

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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A number of people have mentioned the Ford Escape as a possible option as a good “dog car” for those people wanting 4wd as an option. I’m usually an import girl, but I couldn’t *not* check it out when I saw it on the lot. How does it compare to other small SUVs?

(not my photo, found via Google Image search)

Well, it has similar dimensions to most of the smaller SUVs out there, and the seats DO fold flat (yay!), but overall it seemed a lot lower quality inside when compared to similar imports. Lots of plastic, the carpeting in the back cargo area was very cheap feeling and not well secured, and the dash seemed very light on any bells and whistles. It struck me much more as a basic, no frills vehicle, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you’re looking for something that can stand up to use as a dog hauler.

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 40.5″

Cargo depth with both rows up: 32.75″ on the floor, 23″ deep at the narrowest point (seat back 20″ above floor level)

Cargo depth with the second row down: 57.5″

Hatch dimensions: 34″ tall, 37.75″ to 47.75″ wide.

MPG city: 22 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

MPG highway: 26 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

The Escape, for all of its workhorse styling, does have some nice features. The glass in the hatch opens independently, allowing you to increase air circulation in the vehicle even with the hatch locked. There is a small light above the cargo area which is great for late night or early morning packing and unpacking. The seats did fold flat as I mentioned earlier *and* they were very easy to fold – no complicated series of handles and latches here!

The Escape definitely doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other similar vehicles, but it’ll certainly get the job done! With the second row of seats up, you should be able to fit smaller crates in the cargo area, and with that row down, the cargo space is quite flexible and generous for a small vehicle. The distance between the wheel wells does mean putting two larger crates side by side might not be possible (most 36″ crates are 24″ wide with SUV-style crates still being 21″ wide), however. Overall, this is a decent option for those with only a few larger dogs or a larger number of smaller dogs if you don’t need the more high-end interior styling found in some other small SUVs.

I emailed CPS this afternoon to ask a few questions and they’ve replied with some great new info I thought Four Paw Drive readers would appreciate. My questions are bolded, their answers follow.

Will you be testing other restraint methods (i.e. crates, dog transport boxes, cargo dividers, pet car seats, etc.)? If so, any idea of the timeline for those? 

Yes, we are working on all classes of travel products – as funding permits.  We are currently expanding on the pilot study.  We are test planning for a more comprehensive harness study and completing the crate study.  We are working to become a nationally recognized oversight organization for the pet product industry.

How much does it cost to run a study like this pilot one you just released data from?

The cost of each study depends on the amount of products tested and the type of tests performed.  Our founder spent well over $10,000.00 on the pilot study alone.  Dynamic tests are typically well over $1000.00 – $1500.00 each, and when you add the development and construction costs of the specially designed, weighted and instrumented crash test dog, the testing expenses add up quickly.  Hence the importance of funding to further our mission.

Consumers typically think that the pet product manufacturers would assist with funding studies like these, however, that is simply not the case.  CPS is independent of the pet product industry and cannot accept funding from them – since it could be construed as and indication of bias.  CPS is looking to pet product consumers, special interest foundations, animal welfare, travel safety organizations and consumer safety organizations to help fund the mission.  CPS is in a critical fundraising mode and will be launching some funding campaigns in the near future. 

(There’s a new Crash Test Doggies campaign on Indiegogo that started today for example.)

Can pet owners help in other ways in addition to donations? If so, how?  

Absolutely!  CPS welcomes the help in getting the word out about the mission.  Tweet, Facebook and Share!  The more people talking about our work, the more funding we’ll get and the more research we can complete.  If you own a pet, and believe in the CPS cause – you’re a part of this mission.  We will be working to engage volunteers in the near future.

They’ve also offered to set up a phone meeting between myself and the founder if I’d like to learn more and ask more questions, so loyal readers, what would you like to know about CPS and their work?!

A new organization, The Center for Pet Safety, has released data and videos from its pilot study on pet vehicle restraints today. The results are far from encouraging unfortunately. Of the four harnesses they tested, in both dynamic and static tests, not a single one restrained the canine crash dummy without injury. Three of the four tested harnesses are manufactured by companies that claim their products ARE tested in some way, too!

The CPS did not release the names of the companies whose restraints were tested and they do a good job of obscuring identifiable parts of the harnesses during the tests recorded on video, but of course there is certainly speculation about which harnesses are involved in the study.

Watching the four videos on CPS’s website about the pilot study does underline some common failure points:

  • If a dog is secured with clips or clasps, those often break first. In one video, the clip remained in place, but the D ring attaching it to the harness broke free almost immediately.
  • The front design of the harness is important to prevent neck and chest injuries. One harness almost decapitated the dummy when it slid upward during the crash simulation!
  • Adjustment points can allow the fit to shift during a crash. Another harness tightened across the dummy’s chest during the simulation, possibly causing additional injuries.
  • The amount of slack in the tether system used can allow too much forward motion. Several harnesses allowed the dummy to come in contact with the front seat, which could mean injuries for both dog and humans in the front seat!

I have always suspected that most crash testing is designed to ensure that the dog doesn’t become a flying projectile vs. actually preventing injury to the dog as well and, unfortunately, these tests seem to confirm that suspicion.

I did contact CPS to obtain the full report, and they have given me permission to share it with my readers here at Four Paw Drive. The document can be found here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BzMqXthoTWqPYUdiYXctNF9zeGc

I’m so happy to see The Center for Pet Safety working on studies of this nature, even if the results are disturbing. Perhaps having an independent assessment group will encourage various pet product manufacturers to improve their products so that they can keep both people and their pets safer in accidents.

If you agree, please consider donating to the cause! CPS is a non-profit organization and they need donations to continue studying various forms of pet restraint. To donate, please visit: http://centerforpetsafety.org/donate-today/ – they even take vehicle donations!

Note: Several of our facebook fans have already contacted well known companies about their involvement (or lack thereof) in this study; it will be interesting to see how the companies respond to these inquiries. If you do the same, please share any details you’re able to obtain with everyone here on the blog and/or on facebook! Well informed is well prepared!