Whether you're running errands around town, taking a day trip or hitting the open road for a long drive, dogs make the best travel companions. But finding the best car for your next adventure together can be tough.
Keeping your furry friend safe and comfortable is most important, however you'll also want to consider the challenges you'll face when sharing your car with a beloved pet. While your travel companion may not be fighting for radio control, you will have pet hair and other messy mishaps to deal with.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle here’s the scoop on which cars are considered the best for dog owners.
Best Cars for Dog Owners
Fortunately, dog owners have a huge selection of vehicles to choose from these days. From compact cars that still leave enough space for large canines to SUVs that are made for dog-friendly activities, the following list is a great resource for beginning your vehicle search.
The following automobiles are among the best-rated vehicles for dog owners:
Subaru is a frontrunner in easy-to-maintain, rugged vehicles. The Crosstrek is super safe, gets great gas mileage and has a wide hatchback that makes it easy to fit your dog in the back.
Wranglers are built for outdoor adventures and getting dirty. You can remove the flooring and literally wash out the interior with a hose if you and your dog get really messy.
The Outback is another Subaru model that’s made for dog owners. The highlights include sitting low to the ground and having plenty of cargo space for your dog to lounge. The auto braking in reverse could also prevent you from backing into your pooch.
If you’re in the market for a minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica is one of the best options. The Pacifica is very spacious and it actually has options specifically for dogs like a collapsible kennel.
The Honda CR-V is one of the most popular compact SUVs on the road. It scores big points for affordability, and your dog will enjoy the vast amount of cargo space and comfortable ride.
The shape of the Kia Soul is right in line with dog carriers and crates. It’s also very low profile, which makes it easy to get dogs in and out. If you’re buying new, consider getting the cargo barrier and seat protectors.
GMC Sierra Denali
Prefer trucks over cars and SUVs? Then the Denali is a great pick. It has side steps for getting in and a large cabin so you don’t have to put Fido in the bed.
The way the four doors open up to provide a big wide space alone makes the Honda Element a top pick for dog owners. The way the back is configured you can easily sit a good size crate on the floor board.
Each one of these vehicles is a great option for a dog owner. As you continue your search, you can narrow the selection down a little more based on the next few things.
3 Things to Consider When Car Shopping
First and foremost, you'll want to consider the safety of your dog. Christina, a pet expert and blogger at The Everyday Dog Mom, says, "Whether it's a long trip or just running errands around town, the most important thing to keep in mind is safety."
Just like you would do yourself or with a child, you need to keep your dog restrained in case of an accident. That means finding a vehicle that’s large enough in the backseat to hold a carrier. Christina uses a Sleepypod carrier for her dog Georgie which keeps her restrained and safe inside the car. The bigger your dog, the more space you'll need to accommodate a bigger carrier.
General safety ratings are another good benchmark. The safer the vehicle is for humans, the safer it will be for dogs too.
When it comes to canine comfort, temperature control is a primary concern. You'll want to look for adequate climate control to keep your pet comfortable. Bonus points if the vehicle has separate air control features for the back seat.
Tinted windows are also a nice option that can help keep the sun off your dog while making it cooler in the car. In extreme heat, not having adequate protection from the sun can become a safety issue.
Low ride height is another important feature to select for your comfort and your dog's. At first glance, you might think it's for little dogs to climb in easily, but it's actually more important for big dogs, especially older ones. Imagine having to lift a large dog in and out of your car repeatedly!
With pets, your car is bound to get messy. You may get a few scratches, but opting for leather or vinyl seats prevents stains, which are much more frequent. Leather and vinyl can easily be wiped down when messes occur. Pet hair will also be easier to vacuum away when it’s not sticking to upholstery.
Cars Accessories to Consider
Having the right gear can make the ride better for your pooch pal no matter what vehicle you drive. Below are some essential accessories that you can get when you purchase a new vehicle or later down the road.
Sleepypod Carrier - This is the vehicle dog carrier of choice for experts like Christina.
Vastar Adjustable Pet Seat Belt - If you want to try a pet seat belt rather than a carrier there’s no better option than Vastar. It’s extremely durable, can be adjusted to work with pets of all sizes and keeps pets restrained without limiting their ability to sit, stand or lie down.
Rubber Floor Mats - Some vehicles have an option for rubber mats, which you'll definitely want to add on. If not, you should be able to find aftermarket mats that fit your make and model to protect the carpeting.
4Kanines Dog Seat Cover - A vehicle is a major investment that you want to keep in pristine condition. Hauling around a dog can wreak havoc on leather seats unless they’re covered. 4Kanines makes one of the best dog seat covers on the market. Their heavy-duty seat cover is non-slip and waterproof.
Cargo Area Tie-Downs - Some vehicles come equipped with cargo tie-downs, but if you don’t have them add some to your shopping list. In the event of an accident, unsecured cargo can become a projectile that puts you and your dog at risk.
Christina has had a good experience with two rental vehicles, the Chrysler mini van and the Jeep. Both are at the top of her "Best Cars for Dog Owners" list. She is in the process of purchasing another Jeep, touting it to be "both safe and practical."
Christina and Georgie will soon be ready for their next comfortable and safe adventure. Are you to hit the road with your canine companion?
For more information about driving safely, road tips, and defensive driving courses, visit idrivesafely.com
*This article was updated on 4/9/2020