2009 New York Auto Show: Dogs need show cars, too

Consumer Reports News: April 10, 2009 09:08 AM

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With the Honda Element Dog Friendly Concept, Honda has acknowledged what some animal lovers figured out a while back. The funky, utilitarian Element SUV makes a dandy vehicle for transporting pets.

It comes with an easy-to-clean, “hose-outable” urethane floor and moisture resistant seats right out of the box, making the standard Element particularly well suited for pet duty. The Dog Friendly version takes things a step or two further, with a cushioned, raised pet bed and pet restraint system in the cargo area, another restraint in the rear seat, and a spill resistant water bowl. Dog friendly, indeed.

Other dog-worthy features include a stowable, folding aluminum loading ramp, dog pattern seat covers, and floor mats emblazoned with dog bones. But the one feature that gets the nod as my personal favorite as keeper of two large, furry, dogs is the 12-volt ventilation fan in the back. That one alone should be enough to make animal lovers run out and give this friendly vehicle a nice, big hug.

Rounding out the package is one feature of lesser importance to pet lovers, and probably of even less interest to their pets: Special badges to tell the world your vehicle is pet friendly.

But if those badges were edible, Honda would really be on to something. At least with my dogs.

--Jim Travers

See Consumer Reports' coverage of the 2009 New York auto show.

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