a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: The Quintessential Agility Car

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Quintessential Agility Car

Clean Run Magazine is doing an email survey on agility vehicles. Here are my responses:

Q: What breed(s) of dog do you own, and how many of each breed?

Sheltie mix, Aussie Probably, Border Collie (1 each)

Q: What automobile do you drive?

2001 Toyota Sienna LE

Toyota web site with description & links to detailed features.

Q: Is it a van, station wagon, SUV, truck, or car?


Q: How long have you had it?

4 years—as of this very week.

Q: Did you purchase it new or used?

Used, with 21,000 miles on it.

Q: Did you purchase it with transporting dogs and gear to trials in mind?

Yes! Otherwise I'd have a nifty sporty little sedan! I'm not a minivan fan!

Q: Can you estimate the highway and city gas mileage you get (if not, don't worry, I would have no clue either)?

Highway, 24 mpg. City, I don't do that much, maybe 20?

Q: Have you modified your vehicle in any way? If so, how?

No. (We're not mentioning the custom crushing on the lower edge of the rear hatch door where I occasionally forget to close the door before opening or closing the garage door on top of it.)

Q: What things do you like about your vehicle, especially in terms of using it for agility-related travel?

  • I can get a lot of stuff into it, including 2 medium-large metal crates across the back (just barely), a full-size canopy (with one crate sitting on top of it, and lots and lots of other stuff.

  • Seats come out sort of easily and independently of each other (4 individual seats in the back, no benches), so I normally have 3 seats stored stacked in my garage. As a bonus, the metal gidgies to which the seats normally attach make excellent tie-downs for my dogs' crates. (Cars where the seats fold into the floor don't have this; plus seats are HEAVY so seats that stay in the car add unneeded weight when you're driving.

  • Front and back heat & a/c can be controlled separately, so I don't have to have heat blowing on the dogs when I'm cold (or a/c blowing on me when they're hot).

  • Spare tire is stored under the car so all I have to move if I have a flat is enough stuff to get at the bolt in the back floor that I have to turn (a million times) to release the tire.

  • Standard (I think) roof rack for the occasional extra thing that there's just not room for. And the crossways slats adjust forward and backward.

  • Sliding doors on BOTH sides.

  • Powered sliding door is very nice...when it's working properly.

  • Toyotas have been reliable cars for me and this is doing fine at 84,000 miles.

  • Reasonable gas mileage.

  • Cruise control!

  • Good power (6 cyl) going over hills and mountains; good acceleration for freeway merging.

  • Lights that automatically turn off (interior & exterior) after a certain time if you forget or if you leave your door open.

  • Power exterior mirrors.

  • Front & rear wipers.

  • CD player.

Q: What don't you like about it?

  • Removable seats--on the down side, it is SO much easier to be able to just fold a seat down into the floor and not have to haul the heavy thing around the garage & store it forever if you're not using it.

  • Other minivans (even later-model Siennas) seem to have a few extra inches side to side so I could get my crates in easier and a few extra inches front to back.

  • Side door windows don't open.

Q: Will you purchase a similar vehicle in the future? Why or why not?

Yes, because I need the space.

Q: What are some characteristics that your agility vehicle must have?

  • Space for 2-3 med-large crates, large canopy, all the other typical agility stuff plus camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, etc.).

  • Good gas mileage. Cruise control. Good power and acceleration.

  • Must fit in the garage.

  • Heat & A/C.

Q: What are some luxuries you'd like to have for your agility vehicle?

  • All power doors that work well both under power and manually. My powered door has been flaky since I got it (used) and, when I turn off the power, it is very difficult to use. I've used other vans that work smoothly either way.

  • Heated seats.

  • Side air bags.

  • Hybrid engine for better fuel economy.

  • Automated cleaning system that removes all dog hair at the push of a button. (OK, I didn't really list that in the survey.)

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