You may argue that the best 2010 SUV for dog owners is, in fact, the aptly named Honda Element with Dog Friendly Package. As I tested that model very early this year I can attest to the fact that it was the picture of thoughtful pooch perfection. This was thanks to features like a built-in, spill proof water bowl and a mesh crate in the cargo area designed to soften impact forces in a crash.
But there’s one problem. The 2010 Honda Element may offer 4WD but it is not an SUV. It has a third miniature door behind the front doors (like a Mini Clubman) and it was the granddaddy of the boxy car movement. Admittedly these models are much smaller than the Element but do you consider a Kia Soul or Scion xB to be SUVs?
SUVs all follow a general design motif and family friendly ethos, hence you never see one with 1 ½ doors on each side a la the Element. At Honda, the true blue SUV that makes for the wisest “dog car” purchase is the 2010 CR-V. In some areas I think it may even trump that Element, although the Dog Friendly Package is extraordinary at just $995 with EX models.
Would that then mean Honda is the “Dog friendliest Car Company?” Somehow I don’t think their marketing department is going to use that idea. But in that spirit, here are some facts and tips on how to get the most dog friendliness from your 2010 Honda CR-V.
The Leather, Plastics and Overall Design of the Interior Cleans Easily and Feels Solid
During a recent week with a 2010 Honda CR-V I decided to put that model through its paces with my 64 pound Boxer named Daisy Mae. She had a photo shoot in the car where she showed off her pet restraint harness while she also routinely rode in the back seat or in the cargo area. All during that week she shed all over the cargo area and when her dog friend Peyton took a ride he left a slobber trail all around the cabin.
But just after one trip to the car wash the interior of the 2010 Honda CR-V looked, felt and even smelled brand new. The leather had no marks on it (although I did use a fitted seat cover), the fur was easily vacuumed off the carpeting and there were no scratches in the plastics. Whew! I took a risk there with Honda’s CR-V tester but since I am such a dog-lover I figured this was my version of “off-roading.”
The 2010 CR-V’s Middle Rear Seat Belt Descends from the Roof into the Buckle
Many pet safety harnesses just have loops that attach to the fabric part of the seat belt after it is buckled. The problem with these harnesses is that they don’t offer as much mobility for your pet as a harness that buckles directly into receptors in the back seat. Thankfully there is a roof mounted, fabric seat belt in the 2010 Honda CR-V that slides perfectly through a safety harness loop thereby leaving your dog with plenty of freedom to move.
If Your Pet Safety Harness Plugs into Seat Belt Receptors Never Let Them Ride in the Front
Just like children, airbags kill dogs in the front seats even if they are harnessed in. Also, pet safety harnesses that plug into seat belt receptors are the easiest to install and offer the most secure protection.
Two Car Seat D-Rings Are Exposed in the CR-V’s Cargo Area Floor When Rear Bench is Folded Forward
This allows you to use the cargo area to transport larger dogs as you can secure two pet safety harnesses to the car seat D-rings in the floor. The cargo hold is also very square and roomy so it is perfect for dogs that are too big for the confines of the rear bench seat. Try to remember, if those D-rings are strong enough for a car seat, they are strong enough for your Bull Mastiff.
The Aforementioned Folded Rear Bench Separates Canine Rear Passengers from Front Riding Humans
While you may still want to invest in a safety grate if you have a jumper, the folding rear bench seat in my 2010 CR-V proved enough of a deterrent so Daisy Mae never tried to sit in the front seats. Usually she finds her way up there when I leave her to go grocery shopping.
Thanks to the rear “conversation mirror” (that was no doubt designed for nervous moms), I was able to keep an eye on Daisy Mae the entire time she rode in the back. She also had no trouble hopping up through any of the doors of the 2010 CR-V as the step-in height is very low. It’s all this “little stuff” which adds up to a supremely “dog friendly” SUV.
(Note: If you’d like to learn more about pet safety harnesses for your SUV go to BarkBuckleUp.com or BeSmartRideSafe.com.)