More than 80 percent of dog owners take their “best friend” along in the car, which means it’s important pet owners consider their dog’s safety and comfort when shopping for a vehicle. To help motorists find a car that meets their needs as well as their dog’s, AAA is announcing its top vehicles for dog owners.
“More than 45 million households in the U.S. have a dog, so many vehicle manufacturers offer features designed to keep pets safe and comfortable and use easy clean-up materials for the owners,” said Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson. “Vehicles designed to meet owner’s desires for luxury, responsiveness, adventure, and economy often offer pet-friendly features.”
AAA’s automotive experts test drove and reviewed hundreds of vehicles to determine the top vehicles for dogs based upon a wide variety of factors such as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of animal ingress and egress, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors.
The list is divided into six categories to help motorists with a variety of lifestyles identify a vehicle that best meets their needs. AAA members interested in purchasing these vehicles can get more information about AAA’s Auto Buying Service at www.aaa.com/carbuying or by calling (800) 816-4899.
AAA Top Cars For Dog Owners
· BMW 3 Series Wagon: This wagon offers a wide range of accessories to make the car more suitable for pet transport including rubber mats for the cargo area and sturdy dividers that can keep a dog comfortably confined to the cargo area and away from distracting the driver. Some available dividers even have an added division to transport two dogs while keeping them apart. The interior is cozy, so the BMW 3 Series wagons may be a better choice for medium to smaller breeds.
· Volvo XC60: The Volvo XC60 has a roomy cargo area ideal for transporting most canines in comfort, and a nicely finished interior. Accessories include rubber mats for the cargo area and a pet barrier that fastens securely above the raised rear seats to keep pets from distracting the driver.
· Subaru Forester: The Forester’s cargo capacity with the rear seats folded is an impressive and inviting (for pets) 68 cubic feet. The floor, at just over 27 inches off the ground, also is lower than many sports utility vehicles making it easier for many dogs to get in and out. There are ample tie-down points to secure a kennel.
· Hyundai Santa Fe: The third row seat option is no longer available, but the cargo space is good for even some larger breed dogs. Buyers will find that both Hyundai and aftermarket suppliers offer many accessories to make rides with the family pet easier and more comfortable. These range from sturdy rubber mats for the cargo area to beds and pet dividers that will keep the dog in place. As an added the bonus, the ride and handling should be agreeable to both people and their canine passengers.
Kids, Dogs and Everything Else
· Honda Element: The interior features surfaces and upholstery that can be hosed out, if necessary. The clamshell side doors also can make getting pets in and out easier. The Element offers a pet lovers’ accessory group that includes a ramp, which is ideal for helping older dogs get in and out, second row seat covers that are even easier to clean than the standard upholstery and a soft-sided kennel that can be secured to the vehicle. It also features a spill-resistant water dish and an electric ventilating fan.
· Toyota Venza: This cross between a station wagon and a crossover utility vehicle offers a long list of pet accessories. Among the items are a ramp to ease getting in and out through the rear tailgate, waterproof seat covers, an adjustable harness/booster seat pet restraint system, an adjustable pet barrier and a dog tether to keep canines from jumping into the passenger area.
Efficient and fun
· Mazda3 5-Door: Wide opening rear doors, tailgate and robust interior makes this yet another vehicle that would be attractive to many pet owners. These buyers, however, will have to go to aftermarket suppliers for many pet accessories. Fortunately, there they will find a wide range of mats and kennels that both fit and enhance the Mazda3’s utility.
· Mini Clubman: The longer body structure, foldable rear seat and rear barn doors all contribute to making it easy to get even a larger breed in and out of the vehicle. And once in, dogs will find more than 33 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded. Most kennels will fit with ease and, once in, can be secured using the factory-installed tie-down points.
· Ford Escape Hybrid: Ford actually promotes the cargo area as being ideal for “…a big, wet dog…” The company goes on to note that the hybrid’s battery pack is completely sealed, so there is no need to worry about wet pets or wet cargo causing a problem. Accessories are available from many sources, including Ford. Floor mats and a pet divider head the list of items that make the Escape more “pet friendly.”
· Kia Soul: It’s roomier than its exterior dimensions suggest, which makes the Soul a good choice for transporting smaller and mid-size breeds. Aftermarket accessories to make the trip easier on both the pet and its owner are also easily acquired. These include thick, heavy-duty mats and pet-resistant seat covers. Some owners also have gone for vehicle-specific pet cages and dividers, often imported from Europe.
· Nissan Cube: The interior is surprisingly roomy and should be good, with the back seats down, for even larger breeds. Note, however, that when folded, the rear seat does not form a flat load floor, so owner supplied padding to level the cargo area would probably be necessary. Buyers will find many aftermarket accessories that can be used to enhance this car’s utility as a pet hauler.
AAA offers additional help for those with pets. AAA’s Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook® contains all the information pet owners need when taking their pet on an extended trip. The book includes pet-friendly AAA Approved property listings for hotels and motels and advice on transporting pets. To purchase this book, visit or call your local AAA office.