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Your Dog Wants a BMW

Posted: Aug 19, 2010

Here at U.S. News Automotive, we want you to find the right car for you and your family. Your whole family -- canines included.

In a press release, AAA writes, "With more than 80 percent of dog owners taking their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, many drivers are taking the safety and comfort of man's best friend into consideration when shopping for vehicles." To help car shoppers find cars that work for their four-legged friends, AAA has released a list of their top cars for dog owners.

The list is "based upon a wide variety of factors such as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of animal ingress and egress, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors." We're pretty sure that no actual dogs were part of the team that created the list of criteria, since a car's ability to chase cats and the flavor of its upholstery were not considered.

The AAA list has some intriguing entries. Autoblog writes, "While we weren't surprised to see cars like the Subaru Forester and Honda Element make the cut, others, like the BMW 3 Series Touring and the ever fun-to-fling Mazda3 five-door were vehicles we wouldn't have necessarily thought of as doggie rides. Thrifty buys like the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube found particular favor on the AAA list, thanks in part to their ability to serve up plenty of space with their rear seats folded down."

The only car we'd add to the list is the 2011 Infiniti M. While it would be the only sedan on the list, it's also the only one with Infiniti's Forest Air system, which detects and eliminates foul odors. That's a feature anyone who's ever been trapped in a car with a dog who has gastrointestinal issues can appreciate.

Getting the right car for your dog may seem silly, but it can be an important safety consideration -- and not just for Fido. Seattle's KING TV writes that "an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure."

That means that even in slower speed crashes, Spot can go from a slobbery ball of love to the equivalent of a Honda Civic slamming around inside your car. Always restrain your dog, either in a kennel or a safety harness, even when going for short drives. Restraining your dog not only protects you in accidents, it can prevent them, since an unrestrained dog can easily distract the driver. Also: never let your dog drive, no matter how much he begs, even if he is 16 in dog years.

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