BEST VEHICLES FOR YOUR DOG
By: Cathy Droz – Founder HER Certified
Recently I was asked for my opinion of the FIVE best vehicles for traveling with your dog or dogs. I’ve test driven over 538 vehicles in the last 12 years and have had my share of dogs jumping in and out of cars, trucks, SUVs, Crossovers and Luxury vehicles. There are more than Five great vehicles for pets but here are my top Five and one bonus vehicle no longer in production.
I have based my choices on many factors. Just like finding the right auto fit for you and your children, the same holds true for “man’s best friend”. I feel the most important things to consider are: Your budget, the size of your dog or dogs, ventilation for your pet, the ground distance ( they will not always be spry little puppies jumping in and out) as well as the safety features like latch hooks for a harness or other accessories. You might consider window shades for cargo area when the third row of seating is down, and does it lay flat, so crates fit in level. You should consider cloth or vinyl vs leather seats if your dog sheds or slobbers. The dog’s nails will scratch the leather.
Here are my choices for best car vehicles including one from the past.
- Chrysler Pacifica – Mini Van – With wide sliding doors, large rear hatches and low floors they are easy for most dogs to get in and out of. The cargo space is huge compared to even the largest SUV. You can fit more than one crate in there and still have passengers. It is known for it’s second and third-row seats both lie flat. The number one reason I like this vehicle is the built-in vacuum and stow and go seating. The mini van stigma is no longer for soccer moms… It’s for people who like to travel with their kids and dogs. Chrysler Pacifica starting at $28,000
- Subaru – Outback and Subaru Ascent – Subaru has dedicated millions of dollars to their Labrador Retriever commercials and their “Share the LoveEvents” They have supported the rescue of nearly 50,000 dogs nationwide by the ASPCA. With this as the background these two vehicles rank high in form and function for pets. The Subaru Outback has a spacious cabin for your small or large dog. It comes standard with all-wheel-drive to go off the grid with Rover and the family. It is low to the ground and cloth seats come standard, but you can upgrade. Keeping your dog in mind the Subaru Outback has standard reverse automatic braking system in case Fido runs behind you while in reverse. The Ascent is Subaru’s newest and largest SUV. An 8-passenger with plenty of room for large size dogs. Ascent starting at: $31,900, Outback starting at: $28,900
- Land Rover Discovery – Many SUV’s and trucks will wind up getting the rear bumper scratched from the dog’s nails and other obtrusive elements. The Land Rover Discovery features a flap that covers the top of the bumper, protecting it from damage. Air suspension is also available on the Discovery, allowing you to lower the rear of the vehicle for your dog’s leg length or age. The rear seats fold nearly flat and the cargo area has near-vertical sides making it easy to fit dog crates inside. The square interior makes installing a pet barrier behind the second row a breeze. Land Rover just came out with Pet Packs which are great accessories for pet safety and convenience. They now have a Land Rover Activity Key. You wear a wristband instead of carrying your key while walking the trail with your dog, just getting close to your car will open the locks. Land Rover Discovery starting at: $52,090
- VW Atlas – This is an all-new model for Volkswagen that is quite conducive to dog lovers. It has a truly spacious cargo area and three rows of seating. The third row is a 50/50 split so you can install a dog crate while retaining one of the rear seats for a passenger. One of the Atlas upgrades is tri-zone automatic temperature control, so pets in second and third rows can get plenty of heating or cooling and air flow. One of the trims comes with synthetic leather upholstery which is durable and easy to clean. Atlas starting at: 30,750.
- RAM 1500 Truck – The new edition crew cab is four inches longer than the last edition which gives its back seat enough space to fit large dog crates (never put your dogs in the bed of the pickup). When the rear seat is folded up, the floor is completely flat, with enough room for a comfy dog bed to fit behind the front seats. If you are using a harness, there are two complete sets of LATCH hardware built into the rear seats. One trim level features air suspension, which can lower the cab height for easy entry and factory installed running boards. Inside each rear door is a RAMBIN storage container built in the floor, perfect for holding leashes, treats and collars. If you need to power a fan for your pet, you’ll get up to two rear 110-volt AC outlets to keep you puppy cool. RAM Starting at: $31,695
Bonus: The best Dog Vehicle every made (in my opinion) was the Honda Element (Dog Friendly Version) It stopped production in 2011. It included rubber mats throughout and seat material you could hose out the whole car. It came with built in water dish, safety latches and a dog ramp. There is no word on it coming back so If you can find a 2011 used, you will pay dearly for it but love it.
My Yellow Lab “DOC” passed away last year at age 17. He got in and out of our SUV himself until the last few years. There are so many accessories on the market to make your dogs safe and loved please look in to them. I also warn folks about distractions so instead of don’t text and drive I tell my dog lovers two hands on the wheel… Don’t PET and Drive.