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When shopping for a new car—or just admiring the shiny new models at the dealer or your local car show—it’s important to think of the needs of everyone in the family. And that, of course, includes the pets. It’s essential to consider their comfort and safety, as well as convenience for you in loading them in and out of the vehicle you choose.
Our pet-loving friends at jeanknowscars.com previewed the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and found several features on new models that can make your travel with pets easier — and your pet’s travel experience more comfortable and pleasant. Here are their reviews.
We often put our dog’s crate in the back of the car or van, but it can be hard to find a vehicle, even one with three rows of seats, that has climate controls to regulate the temperature back there. The all-new 2016 Kia Sorento does. Whether you keep the third-row seating up or fold it down, you can help your pet chill out (or stay warm) with adjustable AC settings. The feature is standard on the EX, SX and SX Limited models, all of which have the larger V-6 engine, and optional on the midrange LX. Equipped as we saw it at the Detroit show—as the SX Limited with all-wheel drive—it costs around $45,000.
Ford’s all-new, aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup is a big change for the most popular vehicle on the U.S. market. It’s lighter and more fuel efficient, and there are improvements for those of us who load mega bags of dog food and other pet equipment into the back. The four-door crew cab accommodates pets inside the back seat of the cab with a spacious and practical back-seat area. Loading heavy objects into the truck bed is a snap with new integrated rails that pull down from the left and right sides of the bed. There’s also an improved pull-down step and a box step on the side of the box. Result: Even short people can make maximum use of the carrying ability of this truck. The F-150 starts in the mid-$20,000s but can be optioned up to almost twice that number.
Sure, lots of vehicles have seats that fold, but this is one SUV with truly practical seating when you’re loading in four-legged passengers and their gear. The individual seats are tall and narrow, and you can choose to fold only one seat in the second row for easy access. You can do the same with the third row, leaving room for a crated pet to sit next to a comfortably seated human. The model we checked out was the LR4 HSE Lux with V-6 engine, priced in the $60,000 range, but you can get an LR4 starting just over $50,000.
Ford’s hands-free liftgate has been out for a couple of years on Ford’s small C-Max and medium-size Escape crossovers, and now the big utility vehicles from General Motors have it, too. Available as an option on the 2015 GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, this feature lets you just waggle your foot under the tailgate and—presto!—it pops open. That way you can keep hold of your pet the entire timeasyou load him into the back. The luxurious Yukon and its even bigger Yukon XL sibling are priced starting around $65,000. On the Chevys, the hands-free liftgate is part of the LT model’s Luxury Package; it comes standard on the top-end LTZ, which starts around $62,000.
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