A New Car With Dogs in Mind

0
Honda’s Dog-Friendly Element.

Honda’s Dog-Friendly Element.

If you have a dog, chances are, that dog just loves to ride in the car. After all, we like to get out of our usual surroundings and see new or different places. Why shouldn’t our four-legged friends?
With that in mind, Honda unveiled a very special vehicle at the recent New York International Auto Show. It’s classified as a “concept car” (in non-car-speak, that means something you can’t buy yet) but it was one of the most talked-about concepts of the show because it’s a car built for dogs.
No, you’re not going to be tossing Rover the keys but your canine companion would be spoiled beyond belief as a passenger in the new “Dog-Friendly Honda Element.” This different take on Honda’s boxy compact SUV offers amenities galore for safe and comfortable pet travel.
The Element starts out as a good choice for dog owners, thanks to its urethane floor material and the ability to swing the rear seats up out of the way without removing them completely. In fact, the Web site dogcars.com awarded the Element its first “Dog Car of the Year” award in 2007.
For the Dog-Friendly Element, Honda stitched up some special seat covers with paw print designs on the fabric. They also installed pet restraints in the rear seats, and there’s a special bed enclosure in the rear for larger doggies. (The Humane Society strongly recommends pet restraints whenever your dog might ride in the car, for the same reason humans should wear seatbelts.)
To help our pet friends get up into the rear, there’s even a ramp that stows under the bed when not needed. So, not only does your dog get a comfortable place to ride, he or she will have an easier time ascending to the mobile throne. And to make sure the cargo area doesn’t get too stuffy, a small fan helps with ventilation. There’s also a spill-proof water bowl, as “drinking and riding” is obviously a good thing for dogs.
Since the Element has been around for a few years, Honda was looking for a clever way to bring new attention to the small sport utility. Dog owners were already a fan of the car, so it made sense to go the extra mile, and offer a dog version.
“In an interesting turn of events, cars are now chasing dogs,” said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of American Honda. “Factory integration of a cushioned pet bed, restraint systems and other components is intended to transform the Element into the ultimate dog car.”
From the outside, the Dog-Friendly Element doesn’t really look unlike any Element you can buy. Only when you get close would you notice the special exterior emblems, also with a paw print like the seat covers. But otherwise, it just looks like a funky box on wheels.
The Element is essentially the mechanical twin to the Honda CRV, which has been one of the most popular compact SUVs since its debut over a dozen years ago. Under the Element’s hood is a smooth and economical 2.4 liter four cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, though I doubt there are too many of those in Southern California. For our traffic-choked freeways and streets, the 5-speed automatic is by far the more popular choice.
Another nice thing about the Element, as related to dogs, is that it’s available with all-wheel-drive. If a ride to the corner dog park is fun for your mutt, then a trip out into the mountains or woods on a back road would be a really great tail-wagging excursion.
The best news out of Honda following their press conference on the Dog-Friendly Element is that this isn’t just a concept. By sometime in late summer or early fall, you’ll be able to buy one almost exactly like it. It might not come from the factory with all the features, but it’s likely that a Honda dealer will be able to add the clever dog accessories for you.
No prices have been announced but a Honda Element costs anywhere from $20,275 to $25,285. An educated guess would put the collection of Dog-Friendly options at $1000-2000 for everything. If my sources at Honda are correct, you wouldn’t necessarily have to get all the accessories. You could just get the ones your pet would like to have.
Before long, I hope to get my hands on a version of the Dog-Friendly Element. My dog Oscar would probably love to check it out and go for a ride, as would his fellow pooches around the neighborhood. They’d be glad to know a car company built a special model just for them.
I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7.  He’s also a car enthusiast and owns several classics. Dave can be reached A New Car With Dogs in Mind

If you have a dog, chances are, that dog just loves to ride in the car. After all, we like to get out of our usual surroundings and see new or different places. Why shouldn’t our four-legged friends?
With that in mind, Honda unveiled a very special vehicle at the recent New York International Auto Show. It’s classified as a “concept car” (in non-car-speak, that means something you can’t buy yet) but it was one of the most talked-about concepts of the show because it’s a car built for dogs.
No, you’re not going to be tossing Rover the keys but your canine companion would be spoiled beyond belief as a passenger in the new “Dog-Friendly Honda Element.” This different take on Honda’s boxy compact SUV offers amenities galore for safe and comfortable pet travel.
The Element starts out as a good choice for dog owners, thanks to its urethane floor material and the ability to swing the rear seats up out of the way without removing them completely. In fact, the Web site dogcars.com awarded the Element its first “Dog Car of the Year” award in 2007.
For the Dog-Friendly Element, Honda stitched up some special seat covers with paw print designs on the fabric. They also installed pet restraints in the rear seats, and there’s a special bed enclosure in the rear for larger doggies. (The Humane Society strongly recommends pet restraints whenever your dog might ride in the car, for the same reason humans should wear seatbelts.)
To help our pet friends get up into the rear, there’s even a ramp that stows under the bed when not needed. So, not only does your dog get a comfortable place to ride, he or she will have an easier time ascending to the mobile throne. And to make sure the cargo area doesn’t get too stuffy, a small fan helps with ventilation. There’s also a spill-proof water bowl, as “drinking and riding” is obviously a good thing for dogs.
Since the Element has been around for a few years, Honda was looking for a clever way to bring new attention to the small sport utility. Dog owners were already a fan of the car, so it made sense to go the extra mile, and offer a dog version.
“In an interesting turn of events, cars are now chasing dogs,” said John Mendel, Executive Vice President of American Honda. “Factory integration of a cushioned pet bed, restraint systems and other components is intended to transform the Element into the ultimate dog car.”
From the outside, the Dog-Friendly Element doesn’t really look unlike any Element you can buy. Only when you get close would you notice the special exterior emblems, also with a paw print like the seat covers. But otherwise, it just looks like a funky box on wheels.
The Element is essentially the mechanical twin to the Honda CRV, which has been one of the most popular compact SUVs since its debut over a dozen years ago. Under the Element’s hood is a smooth and economical 2.4 liter four cylinder engine. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, though I doubt there are too many of those in Southern California. For our traffic-choked freeways and streets, the 5-speed automatic is by far the more popular choice.
Another nice thing about the Element, as related to dogs, is that it’s available with all-wheel-drive. If a ride to the corner dog park is fun for your mutt, then a trip out into the mountains or woods on a back road would be a really great tail-wagging excursion.
The best news out of Honda following their press conference on the Dog-Friendly Element is that this isn’t just a concept. By sometime in late summer or early fall, you’ll be able to buy one almost exactly like it. It might not come from the factory with all the features, but it’s likely that a Honda dealer will be able to add the clever dog accessories for you.
No prices have been announced but a Honda Element costs anywhere from $20,275 to $25,285. An educated guess would put the collection of Dog-Friendly options at $1000-2000 for everything. If my sources at Honda are correct, you wouldn’t necessarily have to get all the accessories. You could just get the ones your pet would like to have.
Before long, I hope to get my hands on a version of the Dog-Friendly Element. My dog Oscar would probably love to check it out and go for a ride, as would his fellow pooches around the neighborhood. They’d be glad to know a car company built a special model just for them.
I’ll see you down the road.

Dave Kunz is the automotive reporter at KABC-TV Channel 7.  He’s also a car enthusiast and owns several classics. Dave can be reached at TVCarz@pacbell.net.

Share.

About Author

The ABC7 Auto Man

Comments are closed.