Posts Tagged ‘small’

While my Impreza was in the shop after my accident in August, I had to get a rental. I knew it was going to be challenging to find one in my price range that would accommodate dog crates, but one of my friends told me that they had had good luck with the Versa, so I went ahead and asked for one since it was listed in the “Budget” category.

When I went to pick it up, I immediately thought my friend had made a mistake. There was no way I was going to fit two 36″ crates in this teeny car, but it’s all they had, so I figured I’d just make it work.

When I got it home and tried the crates, the car seemed to expand. It took a little finagling and a side door crate, but sure enough, I fit two 36″ crates in this tiny vehicle! Amazing!


Width between wheel wells (narrowest part of the vehicle): 39.5″

Width at the widest point: 48.5″, across the back seat

Cargo depth with all rows up: 29″ at the floor, 9″ at 25″ up.

Cargo depth with all rows down: 49″

Interior height (min): 28.5″

Interior height (max): 35.5″

Hatch dimensions: 30″ tall, 24.5″-40.75″ wide

Keep in mind that one crate just fits on the folded back seats, while the other squeezed into the cargo depression. The rear hatch was so snug to the crate that I had to pad the corners. The door on the crate in the cargo area was a “garage door” style so opened up instead of out – an outward opening door would’ve been unable to clear the rim of the hatch.

MPG city: 24-28 mpg

MPG highway: 31-34 mpg

The Versa is not a cargo vehicle, but it is pretty flexible and with a little creative thinking it can actually carry more larger crates than many other larger vehicles. It’s definitely worth a second look if you’re looking to find a vehicle with great gas mileage that will carry either small or medium breed dogs, but human passengers aren’t a concern!

2012 Kia Sportage

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Vehicle Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

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.

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 (!


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)

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.