Posts Tagged ‘Chevrolet’

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.

Our first guest review (and great pictures!) comes from Leah Petesch in Iowa. Leah has several dobes, a corgi, and a Mexican street dog, volunteers with Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus, and runs the A Prairie Dobe Companion blog (http://www.prairiedobecompanion.com/)!

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I’ve had my HHR for roughly three years, putting over 60,000 miles on it for dog-related activities.  It’s ideal for 1-2 people with 1-2 large dogs.

The HHR is an excellent option if you’re looking for an economical, domestic vehicle. I recommend the 2LT, as the more basic models are a bit underpowered. A 1-2 year old, low-mileage 2LT usually can be found for $11,000-$14,000. It gets an average of 28-32mpg, but I’ve seen it sit at 34-36mpg on long stretches of highway. (mpg seen with super unleaded, since we lucky Iowans get ethanol fuel subsidies!) It’s a small SUV that handles like a car. My only complaint is that the blind spots are in weird places, and take some getting used-to!

I usually keep the backseat folded down, to accommodate a 36″ wire crate and an equivalent-sized plastic crate. The rear seats fold FLAT – which automatically makes it more functional than its larger ‘brother’ – the Chevrolet Equinox. (I drove an Equinox for a week after I hit a deer with the HHR… let me tell you, it was awful.  I was only able to fit one crate in the darn thing due to the rear seats not folding flat.)

The HHR’s hatch opening is too small for an assembled 36″ wire crate to be slid in, so the crate has to be folded out after it is placed in the cargo area. A soft crate can easily be slid in and popped up after you’ve got the wire crate in – I can set up a soft crate in the empty space in a matter of seconds.  A plastic crate is more difficult, but it can be done – just slide the bottom section in first, then slide the top section through the front passenger door, up over the front-seat headrests, and onto the bottom crate section. Trust me… DO NOT put in a plastic crate as your 2nd crate unless you don’t plan on removing it very often!

The HHR has several convenient cargo tie-downs built into the frame, so securing crates is quick and easy.  The interior surfaces are plastic, so clean-up is a breeze.

I have done several long trips with 2 adults and 2 large dogs. My advice for packing is to pack several small bags – they are easier to stuff into the nooks and crannies of available space.  (Yes, it’ll look like a clown car – get used to it.)  Above the crates there is enough room to slide an additional 42″ broken-down soft crate. In the back, there is a 12″D x 39″W x 29″H open pocket of space. On the side (behind the crate in front) there is a 11″D x 29″W x 29″H open pocket of space. Of course, there are also roomy rear footwells to shove extra gear, as well as the deep rear window-wells in back.

All in all, the Chevrolet HHR is a great “starter” dog-hauler.

View from the rear hatch, with a 36″ wire crate w/side door and a 36″ soft crate

Convenient tie-downs

View of the “empty pocket of space” near the hatch, and the deep window-wells

View from a back door, of the 36″ soft crate

View from a back door, of a 400 vari-kennel (equivalent)