Best new cars for dog owners, according to Autotrader – Chicago Tribune
Every dog has its day, and that day is today — the 11th annual National Dog Day.
Of the many characteristics shared by man and mongrel — a predilection for lying on the couch, an aversion to leafy greens and doctors — the one that most unites us may be the joy of going for a drive.
More than half of the 54 million American dog owners consider buying a vehicle based on its ability to accommodate man’s best friend, according to Autotrader.
For the second year in a row, the car-shopping site has put together a list of the nine best new cars for dogs.
Like most lists, Autotrader attempts to be objective with its subjectivity.
“The cars on our list provide key features for pet owners, such as fold-flat rear seats, rear lift gate, low ride height, airy cabin and under-floor storage,” Brian Moody, executive editor for Autotrader, said in a statement.
A low ride height, which is ideal for smaller and older dogs, must’ve precluded pickups from the list. Rear climate control was also considered in the new car list, which does not repeat one recommendation from last year. All vehicles except the Mazda3 were redesigned for 2015.
The all-wheel drive wagon gets thrown a bone despite its luxury leanings and $43,500 tag. Autotrader cites the expansive rear cargo space and low ride height as ideal for dogs.
Ford’s crossover, sized between the Escape and Explorer, rides low to the ground and is tall on the inside. It has a large rear cargo area, especially with the seats folded down.
Honda’s versatile subcompact has been charming everyone, so why not Fido too? The small wagonlike hatch opens up to a wide cargo area and low floor that can be made even taller by flipping up the rear Magic Seats, which give you almost 41/2 feet of vertical space behind the front seats.
The boxy, off-road capable subcompact crossover offers great headroom, versatile seating and a removable cargo floor panel to store dog things.
Fido is part of the family, and let’s face it, sliding doors are good for everyone. We’d recommend avoiding the standard second seats instead of the ones with the fancy footrests, which can’t be collapsed down and aren’t as versatile.
Leatherette upholstery makes it appear upscale while still being easy to clean. Autotrader says the compact crossover is light and airy with plenty of room to stretch out.
The sporty hatch has a low floor, big cargo area with fold down seats and is ideal for the urban dog owner.
Dogs like riding in the entry-level lap of luxury too. Mercedes new compact crossover has “one of the lowest load floors of any compact SUV,” according to Doug DeMuro for Autotrader, and it has a power liftgate.
Subaru XV Crosstrek
Smaller than an Outback, bigger than a hatch, the versatile Crosstrek has great visibility for a car this class and all-wheel drive. It’s easy to clean and easier to get in and out of.
Since Subaru is known for safety, and two-thirds of Subaru owners are dog owners, it’s time to address pet safety in the car.
Even though dogs never look happier than when they stick their heads outside the window of a vehicle in motion, it is not safe. Unsecured dogs are a danger to themselves and passengers.
“An unsecured dog, even a small dog, can be hurt or killed and cause harm to others in the car if an accident occurs even at slow speeds,” Gregory Castle, co-founder of animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society, said in a statement.
Castle recommends small dogs ride in carriers and midsize and larger dogs ride with a harness or seat belt, which can double as a leash.
Unfortunately, a 2013 study conducted by Subaru and the Center for Pet Safety found that most dog seat belts on the market had “catastrophic failure” during a crash, which means the dog test dummy either came loose from the restraint or was a projectile, according to Hannah Elliott in Forbes.com.
The only belt to keep dogs from becoming projectiles was Sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Harness.
The other belts “ripped, tore, stretched and broke in crucial areas,” Elliott reported. The test dogs broke legs and bones, some were decapitated.
The crash tests were based on tests used to rate child safety products by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Other safety recommendations are based on pet owners’ decisions, not aftermarket parts.
Dogs should not ride with their heads out the window due to the possibility of bugs, rocks or other road debris striking their heads.
Pickup truck beds are not a safe place for anyone to travel, including dogs.
Dogs should not ride in front seats because the impact of an air bag could seriously injure or kill them. When passenger side air bags are disabled, front-riding dogs can suffer far greater injuries from impact with the windshield than if they were riding in back.
Keep them safe, keep them secured. It’ll give you both more time to enjoy the couch.
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