Our dog, Tucker, joined our family about a year ago. The victim of a contentious divorce, he wasn’t a puppy. Instead, when we adopted him, Tucker was a full grown, well adjusted six-year-old Golden Retriever.
At a solid 86 pounds, Tucker wasn’t a small dog. The night we picked him up, we realized almost immediately the vehicle we thought would be a perfect dog-hauler, wasn’t. The cargo floor of our 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee was a good three feet above ground, and as we soon discovered, it posed a distinct logistical challenge for our newest, furriest, family member.
Tucker’s first jump into the Jeep, as well as many jumps that followed, resulted in a scene somewhat akin to those found in any number of bad action movies. The hero falls out of a skyscraper window, and avoids certain death by hanging precariously onto a window ledge, legs dangling free. He claws at the ledge and slowly, painfully pulls himself to safety. Tucker was our action hero, front paws and legs in the Jeep, back legs, paws and hind quarters flailing about over the ledge.
It was a sight. But Tucker always made it in to the Jeep, happy as a clam and looking forward to the prospect of a car ride. Anywhere, anytime.
At the beginning of the summer, with the end of its lease approaching, we began to think about replacing our Jeep. The number one priority was to find a vehicle Tucker, now seven and a half, could get into with a bit more grace than the Jeep afforded him.
Even though a BMW sport-activity-vehicle would seem logical for us to consider, given the 2006 330xi in our garage, a SAV wasn’t initially on our shopping list. Back in 2005, we drove an X3 2.5i, as well as X5 4.4i, before we bought our Jeep. The X3 seemed a little crude and slow, and the X5, equipped the way we would want it, made us smile, but was a budget-buster.
We visited the dealer where we bought our 330xi, intending to look at a 328xi wagon … something we knew would meet our dog-friendly criteria, if we could get past memories of the Custom Cruiser wagons of our youth. What we found instead, was a new sport package X3 in the showroom, the same color as our 3-series, with its tailgate open. According to the knee test we quickly performed (knee against bumper, looking at where the dent falls on your jeans), it had the lowest load floor we’d come across. Then we climbed into the front cabin, and discovered the sport seats in an X3 are just as sinful as the ones in our 3-series.
We were done.
We never drove the 3-series wagon. But we also didn’t buy the new sport package X3. Our salesman knew about a deal in the works with a regular customer of the dealership. She was trading her white 2007 sport package X3, identical to the 2008 we saw in the showroom, on a new 3-series convertible. Given the $12,000 savings over a new one, and factoring in the Certified Pre-Owned warranty, we bought the 2007 the day it came in.
Tucker got his first ride in the X3 a week after we brought it home. He seemed to know something was different, running to the back of the truck visibly quivering with excitement. We lifted the tailgate, and before it was half way up, in one graceful, low-flying jump, Tucker was in.