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Discussion Starter #1
So, I'm looking to possibly break my lease and get a bigger vehicle.

I have a Honda Civic and believe it or not, I can fit a 36" crate in the back seat, but the crate is now too small for my dog.

I'm hoping to get a vehicle that I can easily fit two 42" crates in, just in the event that I ever get a second dog down the road. I don't want to find myself in this position again! I go out to sporting events so I can't have teh dog loose in the back, she has to be crated so I can keep the doors open in warm weather.

I was looking at Dodge Caravan's with the stow 'n go seats. They have a lot of usable space and are fairly cheap, but some people don't like that brand? Anyone here have one and how do you like it? Has it been reliable for you?

I'm hoping to get something used, with lower mileage so it's cheaper and I can afford to finance it. I don't want to lease again!

Honda Odessey's have been suggested, and while that would be easier for me since I have a Honda currently and my dealership will make life easier for me if I get another vehicle from them, they are very expensive and they have no stock until the 2014's come in.

I'm finding a lot of vehicles don't have a flat back area and/or the back seats don't fold down flat, so I'm thinking a minivan will be best?

:confused:
 

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If you don't have to go offroad I think minvans are THE best choice. Offroad, they are not so good....Dirt roads ok. I would look at the Toyota Minivan but they hold their value so a used one would not be so cheap.
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You know I have and love the pick up with a cap, but fuel economy is not as good as a minivan (and if you get a pick up you may as well get a full size monster because small one will have limited crate size) and anymore the walls are so high you can't lean over them but have to have a wheel step or a step stool.

I just need 4WD for search and rescue stuff and to be able to pull the boat and put it in most places we don't have a ramp.

The cap kind of limits (to me) the utility of actually having a truck not to mention the hassle of removing the crates. Were I to do it over, I would just go no cap, custom insulated dog boxes that were easy to remove. If I were thinking pet and dog sports I would get a minivan hands down. The two doors opening on the sides are really nice for cross ventilation.

EDIT *cough* of course this is something satisfying to be able to accelerate past any jerk who won't let you in on the on ramp. The 5.7L V8 on that Tundra is quite the experience when you floor it...have to make sure there is nothing on the dash! ...... My overall fuel economy in foothills terrain and mix of city and highway is about 16 mpg. I get about 18 on the HWY. A V6 does not do that much better in a truck on the HWY but does in the city.
 

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I just got a used Chrysler Town and Country minivan, with the stow and go seats. I love it. I can get three 36" crates in it with no problem. Most of the dog show people I know have either the Dodge Grand Caravan or the Town and Country.

We've gotten 3 people, 4 GSDs and 4 dachshunds (all crated), with a grooming table, extra (flattened) crates, a dolly, 2 exercise pens, and all the other junk we drag around to dog shows (including our bags to stay at a hotel) crammed into my friend's Grand Caravan, more than once. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I thought about a truck with the cap, but the gas mileage and how high up they are kind of turned me off.

The minivans are lower to the ground, so less jumping up/down for the dogs and of course they are climate controlled with the rest of the vehicle too, which is a bonus.
 

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You might want to check out a used Honda Element. I don't know if it would accommodate 2 of the great big crates, but it's a fabulous little dog hauler.

You can completely remove the rear seats (easily, they just unclip and are designed to pop right out and store flat in your garage). You then have a totally flat cargo area with no wheel well. If you occasionally need the seats and want to leave them in, they conveniently flatten and flip up against the wall of the rear area to get them out of the way (this reduces rear visibility though). It looks like this: Google Image Result for http://0.tqn.com/d/suvs/1/0/v/G/-/-/Cargo.JPG With the seats gone, it looks like this:
Google Image Result for http://0.tqn.com/d/trucks/1/0/-/M/05_element_cargo2.jpg

Best of all, the entire rear area has a textured plastic floor that you can just mop out if a dog pukes in it (just avoid the "SC" trim line, which has a carpeted rear). I am loving having a non-carpeted floor for hauling dogs. It makes mud a non-issue too, after a fun day of outdoor adventures.

It is also pretty decent with its gas mileage, unlike most SUVs and trucks (22-25 mpg, for us). And you get Honda reliability, which you already know about with your Civic. It also drives like a car, not a truck.

Also, there are heavy-duty cargo clips all over to clip in safety "seat belt" harnesses for multiple dogs, which we prefer to crates.

ETA: to avoid jumping in the Element, we purchased a set of fold up stairs. They fold up into a little box, and they unfold into a set of three big, wide carpeted stairs that my old dog and blind dog both easily navigate to get in the tailgate. We found them on ebay, and they are the best thing ever for older dogs.
 

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What I see a lot of folks do to keep the minivans cool is cover them with aluminet tarps. I will admit that my white truck with a white cap and full length windoors with limo black on them can be parked in direct sun and, with the windoors and tailgate window open, won't be any warmer than ambient.

When I had an SUV, I had to take a lot more care with where I parked because the window glass made it like a greenhouse.
 

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4 door pick up with a cap.
e



I'm another for the four door truck. I have a crew cab f-150 and I love it! Nothing else would fit my dog stuff. I have three XL crates in the bed along with my huge gear bag (sleeves, suit and so on) plus a secondary back with the collars and leashes and stuff. When barked I put an EZ-up over the crates and it stays nice in there. If I don't have all three dogs with me, then I can fit one XL crate or two L crates in the back seat area. If the budget allows, I'm also a fan of leather. The dog hair doesn't stick to it so it's an easy clean up. Plus if the dogs are wet or anything it doesn't really hurt it or stain too easy.
 

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I really like my ford freestyle. Not the best for dogs, but much better than my saturn was... tons of room! I can fit two 42" crates and a 36" easily, or two 36" crates and 32" with one backseat up.
 

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I love my Mercedes GL450. It holds everything and then some, but if it's gas mileage you are concerned about then you don't want this one. It's a gas pig and takes super unleaded only.
 

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Minivan is the best bang for the buck. Some of the newer small SUVs and cross overs get better gas mileage than my minivan, but they cost 4+ times more up front and can't fit *half* the stuff. I can fit 4 crated GSDs in my minivan and still have several feet of space between the crates and ceiling to pack. For flyball I am now often hauling one of the team's boxes which are huge, and I still have 2-3 dogs and all my normal gear, spare crates, chairs, cooler, etc. The thing with a minivan is the floor-to-ceiling space. You just don't get that with any SUV unless I'm expected to drive a Hummer out of state every weekend. My minivan is paid off!
 

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Ford F-150 all the way for me. We don't do any competition (yet)...but when I have to pack up for work and travel with three dogs to start a new project it's really a lifesaver. We have to take everything we need to live and set up an office for about three months at a time. That's a LOT of stuff.

Mine is Flex Fuel, so I have the option of paying a little more for E85 Ethanol and it bumps up my gas mileage. Also, they make an EcoBoost engine that I'll definitely go for when I trade in next time.

The newer models have built in tailgate steps (for people)...or there are aftermarket products available, as well. There's even a whole tailgate bench that you can flip over and out that I've been coveting for a while. It doubles as a step for dogs. Meantime, I back up over a curb or a hill that has a grassy landing whenever possible to shorten the in/out jump. And I have a carpet liner for the tailgate. I used to use my suitcase as a step for my last senior to get in/out of the cab. Also, the back seats fold up, so you have a mostly flat back floorboard...there's a jack under one seat. That's where my current senior rides, in the A/C with me. The younger dogs get kennels secured in the bed.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have one of those aluminum tarps, they are great!

Magwart, I did consider an Element, but naturally they stopped making it the year before, so finding a used one wasn't easy! lol I'll keep my eyes open for one though.

I think anything starting with 'Mercedes' will be well beyond my price range.

Liseje, what kind of minivan do you have?
 

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Mazda MPV 2004. Stopped making them in 2006. It's the smallest minivan but still a minivan so it holds a LOT of stuff but isn't as big and "soccer mom" as some of the other minivans. It's actually shorter than the mid-sized car it replaced. We go on vacation for 2 weeks in the summer taking 3 dogs (crated) plus all of our clothes, vacuum, kayak, large box fans, extra dog crates and ex-pens, fishing and other lake gear.... I travel at least one weekend a month for dog events, often out of state, all requiring dogs to be crated during travel with extra crates for the hotel, venue, etc plus all of our gear, my photography stuff. I need a LOT of space above and beyond the amount of space the crates take. We used to haul five dogs and three people to Schutzhund every Sunday. Pretty much everyone I know that has more than two dogs and isn't camping in a trailer uses a minivan or a full sized van to haul their dogs. Nothing else can fit and is as practical.
 

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Have you looked at the Honda pilot? We like ours, not sure what the cargo dimensions are, but its pretty roomy and has way more head room than the durango DW totaled, not too bad on gas either. Also Chrysler mini vans would be worth checking into. I've never owned one, but we have them in our fleet at work. Given the way they are driven they seem to hold up as good as anything else we have.
 

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I have one of those aluminum tarps, they are great!

Magwart, I did consider an Element, but naturally they stopped making it the year before, so finding a used one wasn't easy! lol I'll keep my eyes open for one though.
It took us over a month to find a used one we wanted last December, and we had to drive to the next nearest large city to get it. It definitely took some work to locate it--there's a lot of demand for them used since they stopped making them.
 

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I don't have an aluminum tarp, but what I do at Schutzund and dog events when it's hot/sunny is drape an old bedsheet over the hatch of my van while the hatch is up (bungee cord across so it can't blow off). If the sun is coming on one side, I have more hanging down on that side, so it makes sort of a tent area over the back end of the vehicle and the dogs are shaded, but the hatch is fully open with shaded area underneath. If the sun is facing the front of my van, I throw a sheet over the windshield and close the corners in the front doors to keep it down. One of the main reasons I got the Mazda MPV is because the back windows roll down, not just crack open like a lot of minivans. There is plenty of airflow, and I can just reach inside to grab stuff and not have to constantly open and close the sliders.
 

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Seems like all the people at my training club have the minivans with all the back seats out of them filled with pins. Most of them have the kind where both of the sides have sliding doors and they can leave both doors and the back hatch open. The downside of the Pickup is you can't AC that back area easily.
 
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