Posts Tagged ‘AWD/4WD’

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.

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.


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



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.

This is the current Four Paw Drive vehicle! I’ve had our “Rover” for over 10 years and it’s served me well, but our canine family has simply outgrown its capacity.

The Impreza is a very versatile car, providing room for 5 humans and a few dogs in the cargo area or room for two humans and two medium-sized dogs crated with the back seat folded flat!  The Impreza, like all Subarus, comes with AWD standard and it’s helped me out of many a muddy field or through snow drifts that larger vehicles balked at.  In general my mpg has hovered between 28-30mpg consistently, using regular 87 octane gasoline.

I now regularly keep the rear seat folded with the base removed to allow me to fit two 36″ wire crates fully assembled behind the front seats. The rear hatch does not accommodate them fully assembled outside the vehicle, so I put the crates in flat and pop them up inside – it’s a very snug fit and the rear crate needs to have a side door, but it works, and both crates can be accessed easily while still allowing for a significant amount of additional storage.

Pictures of other crate arrangements are below.

Two crates, 36″ wire on folded back seat, 32″ mesh in the remaining cargo space.

Two crates, 36″ plastic on folded back seat, 32″ mesh perpendicular in the cargo area to allow for more storage access.

Two crates, 36″ wire on the back seat, 30″ wire in the cargo area.