Archive for August, 2012

2008 Volvo XC90 3.2

Posted: August 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Volvo is usually synonymous with “fancy station wagon” but they do offer the XC90, which is more SUV than station wagon. Volvo is also known for some nifty features for humans, so what about canines?

I do really wish the XC90 was in my personal price range – it’s a great small SUV with lots of fun features and surprisingly well designed when it comes to keeping crated dogs comfortable!

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

Cargo depth with all rows up: negligible

Cargo depth with the third row down: 45″ on the floor, 38″ deep at the narrowest point (seat back 17.5″ above floor level)

Cargo depth with all rows down: 74.5″

Interior height (min): 32″ at hatch and for 4″

Interior height (max): 34.5″ at the base of the second row

Hatch dimensions: 32″ tall, 29″ to 42″ wide

(right seat in second row would not fold down for me, but it *is* designed to do so)

MPG city: 14 mpg (AWD)

MPG highway: 20 mpg (AWD)

The Volvo has additional vents on the pillars behind each row of seats, providing a lot of extra ventilation in the back, which is quite handy. While there aren’t any additional outlets or lights in the rear cargo area, this Volvo has a unique split hatch that provides a nice “tailgate” for loading and unloading from the rear of the vehicle and allows the bottom section to be locked while leaving the top 2/3 open for air circulation.

I was amazed when I started measuring the XC90 – it appears sized similarly to the Edge/Equinox/Nitro on the outside, but on the inside you find expansive space! The wheel wells and the folding of the seats, as with most vehicles, are the two biggest barriers to cargo capacity, but the XC90 performs admirably, providing enough space for 2 SUV-style 36″ crates side-by-side behind the second row, something I haven’t seen very frequently!

The one MAJOR drawback, other than the purchase price, is the extremely low gas mileage – 14/20 is much lower than I anticipated for a vehicle that is considered a higher end model!  If gas mileage isn’t a concern, the XC90 would be a top pick for those who travel with multiple medium to large dogs!

 

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2008 Dodge Nitro SXT

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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The Dodge Nitro is a very boxy looking vehicle – does that make it more useful as a dog car than the more common curvy vehicles out there?

[not my picture – found via Google image search]

Yes! The Nitro seems much more suited to cargo than it’s more shapely vehicle cousins. The gas mileage leaves a lot to be desired, but if that’s not a concern for you or you are downsizing from a full-sized truck or other gas guzzler, the Nitro might be a good option.

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 43.25″

Cargo depth with all rows up: 34″ on the floor, 26.5″ deep at the narrowest point (seat back 16″ above floor level)

Cargo depth with the second row down: 58.5″

Interior height (max): 35″ at the rear of the second row

Interior Height (min): 30″ at the hatch for 6.5″

Hatch dimensions: 30″ tall, 34.5″ to 42.5″ wide.

MPG city: 15 mpg (this was a 4WD model)

MPG highway: 21 mpg (this was a 4WD model)

This Nitro also included a sliding cargo tray, possibly instead of a 3rd row (?), an extra light in the rear of the cargo area, and tons of tie down points. The seats almost fold flat (similar to the Edge), but unlike the Edge, the back of the seats is plastic coated so you have less risk of snagging or otherwise marring the upholstery.

The Nitro is fairly plastic heavy on the interior and certainly gives off more of a “truck” feel inside, but the dash is pretty flashy, so it’s not all boring!

The width between the wheel wells does preclude standard sized 36″ and larger wire crates from sitting side-by-side in the back, but is large enough to accommodate the corresponding “SUV-style” crates that are only 21″ wide.  The squared off interior also lends itself well to the boxy nature of crates.  The lack of a significant slant on the seat backs in the second row does mean that fitting 24″ long crates side-by-side in the cargo area without folding the seats down is also an option for those with smaller dogs, though it may leave them more vulnerable in a rear-end accident due to the location of the crumple zone.

The Nitro appears to be well designed to accommodate crates for canines, but the gas mileage does give me pause – serious competitors may want to look for a more fuel efficient vehicle for those long drives to trials.

2010 Ford Edge SEL

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
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The Ford Edge seems like a pretty nifty looking crossover – is it as equally nifty when looked at through dog vehicle glasses?

[not my image – found via Google image search]

A typical small crossover, the Edge does not have a 3rd row seating option, but it does offer more interior space than other vehicles in the same category.

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 42″

Cargo depth with all rows up: 34.5″ on the floor, 27″ deep at the narrowest point (seat back 20.5″ above floor level)

Cargo depth with the second row down: 60″

Hatch dimensions: 31″ tall, 32″ to 48″ wide

MPG city: 18 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

MPG highway: 25 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

The Edge has extra lights in the cargo area and rear facing air vents on the console between the front two seats; both features appreciated when using a vehicle for dog toting!

Unlike the Equinox, which is very similarly sized inside but is larger outside and has several features that make the interior harder to use for crated animals, the Edge provides a wider space between wheel wells and slightly longer interior cargo space with the second row folded. The second row is slightly angled when folded, but less angled than many other vehicles we’ve looked at.  The hatch opening *is* smaller than other similarly sized vehicles in some dimensions, but should still be functional given its size at the widest point. Folded crates are likely much easier to fit through the hatch than pre-assembled crates.

The wider space between the wheel wells does open up the possibility of larger crates sitting side-by-side, but you will need SUV-style crates if you hope to fit 36″ or 42″ long crates into the space.

Overall, the Edge is a decent option in this class, but I highly recommend trying your crates in the vehicle before jumping to conclusions as it does have some drawbacks that may make certain crating setups more difficult.

I keep seeing ads about the Chevy Equinox being more spacious inside than other mid-sized SUVs, but the curvy profile has always made me wonder if the interior design gets in the way of functionality as a dog vehicle.

A closer inspection identifies a vehicle with a surprisingly small interior for a vehicle that appears so much larger.  Unfortunately, it also reveals yet another vehicle with seats that do not fold flat, this time not with a slight angle but an actual “step up” between the back of the second row and the cargo area, complicating its use when crates are involved.

Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 37.5″

Cargo depth with both rows up: 34″ on the floor, 23″ deep at the narrowest point (seat back 19″ above floor level)

Cargo depth with the second row down: 54.5″

Interior height (max): 35.25″ at the rear of the second row

Interior Height (min): 31.75″ at the hatch

Hatch dimensions: 31.75″ tall, 36.5″ to 43.5″ wide.

MPG city: 17 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

MPG highway: 24 mpg (this was a 2WD model)

The Equinox lacks any additional vents and outlets in the rear cargo area, but it does include two cargo anchor points and a light above the cargo area.

The interior of the Equinox did compare well with other vehicles in the same range, but the actual usability of the vehicle is impeded by several dimensions and the gas mileage is quite low for a with these dimensions. The width between the wheel wells (just 37.5″!) makes fitting crates larger than 18″ wide side by side impossible and the depth from the rear hatch to the back of the front seats with the second row down is actually a few inches shorter than what we measured in the Ford Escape! I was quite surprised by the measurements given all the hype.

The smaller rear cargo area width and depth puts the Equinox more into the small crossover/hatchback category as far as dog toting ability goes – the interior space will only allow for the use of small crates or larger crates set up perpendicular to the vehicle.