Pet owners, assemble! Cars should be better built to accommodate your furry friends, but it turns out that many pet owners don’t know what makes a car more pet friendly. Fortunately, we have an expert in all things pet-related, and she’s here with some tips and things you should consider when buying a car with your pet.
“As your dog ages, you may find that your present vehicle doesn’t cater to his needs,” said PetGuide.com editor and former AutoGuide.com contributor Amy Tokic. “He may need more room to lie down in the backseat, or a ramp to get in and out of the car. The more dogs you have, the more room you’ll need. And you may not want your dogs sitting on the ‘human seats’ – this could be for hygienic/cleanliness, leasing/resale restrictions or a host of other reasons.”
Tokic is pointing towards the fact that a hatchback is the more dog friendly vehicle. “The back pops open and your dog hops in. An added bonus: a large back window offers your dog a great view of the surroundings without having to roll it down.”
Here’s a list of vehicles that may be helpful and dog-friendly based on Tokic’s advice.
Honda Fit + HR-V
Dogs love to move around and don’t like being stuck in one place. The Magic Seats in the Honda HR-V and Honda Fit, can fold flat or upwards, which allow for a level cargo area behind the front seats. For bigger dogs, the seat bottoms on the Magic Seats can be flipped up, which gives big dogs more vertical space, so they can stand up and still look out the widow.
Like Tokic mentioned, big dogs (and little ones) can use this space without damaging the cloth or leather seats with their nails or fur.
Rear Seat Space
The rear seats of the VW Tiguan can move backwards six inches to allow for more space for your furry friend. This is an excellent feature because dogs come in many shapes and sizes, so the ability to expand the rear seating area for your dog is really appreciated. There are also a few useful accessories available for the Tiguan including a cargo bay pet barrier.
The Volvo XC70 is also a pet friendly vehicle thanks to its size and versatility, but it is also offered with a dog gate and a pet barrier for the cargo bay.
These two vehicles also offer a ton of cargo space for hauling any toys and equipment. “Depending on extracurricular activities, you may need to haul speciality equipment,” Tokic explained. “Urban mushing is trending right now, and that requires harnesses, and a sled or scooter.”
Even family activities mean your pet needs special equipment to bring around. “If you’re going to watch your kid’s soccer tournament, you need to bring blankets and shade for your pup, and that takes up space.” Tokic suggested that dog owners should “bring along some of the equipment you use with your dog and make sure that everything fits comfortably” when shopping for a new car.
Pets can be like kids when it comes to messes, so pet owners need to think about how easy a car is to clean.
“Cars that are easy to clean stay that way,” explains Tokic. “If your dog sheds, good luck trying to get all of it off the fabric seats. Leather interiors are easier to clean – accidents and dirty paw prints wipe right off. On the flip side, they can get hot in the sun, and no one wants a burnt butt.”
The interior of the Jeep Wrangler for example, can be hosed down (make sure to cover up the dashboard to minimize risks to the electronics), which would be perfect for muddy paws or “accidents” in the trunk or back seat.
Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica
Other vehicles that are pet friendly in terms of cleaning are the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica, which are both available with vacuums to help clear out kibble, pet fur, dirt and other messy tidbits.
Spaciousness and Accessibility
The Subaru Outback earns a place on this list for a number of reasons. Mainly, it’s an off-road capable wagon with all-wheel drive, meaning it’s perfect for more outdoorsy pet families. Additionally, the car features a low load floor, unlike many big SUVs, meaning it’ll be easier for less agile dogs to jump in and out of the vehicle without issues. If your dog is older, is arthritic or just has small legs, they will appreciate a low load floor, and you will appreciate it, too, if you have to pick them up to get them into the back.
Kia Forte5, Hyundai Elantra GT
Compact hatchbacks are a dog’s best friend. “You can’t beat a hatchback for doggy accessibility,” Tokic explained. “Just pop the back door and your dog jumps in, ready to go.”
Both the Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5 are well-equipped hatchbacks that offer more than 50 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. “These areas are often carpet-free, an easy clean for when accidents happen. Also, it’s close enough to control and keep an eye on your pet while driving, while being at a safe distance so he’s not a distraction,” Tokic said.
Tokic explains that bigger hatchbacks or crossovers can cause a problem. “Too much space by himself and being too far away from you can cause anxiety. You can say that for today’s pet parent, a hatchback is considered the ‘Goldilocks Choice.’ Not too big (because they don’t have kids), not too small (a dog does need a certain amount of equipment that takes up space but won’t fit into a tote bag); a hatchback is just right when it comes to size and space.”
Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
“You know that friend’s car that always smells like wet dog?” asks Tokic. “That car hasn’t been cleaned or detailed enough, and that smell sticks to fabric and carpet.”
You can avoid your ride smelling like a mutt with some cars that come with built-in fragrances. The new compact crossover from Mercedes, the GLC 300, can be equipped with such a system that keeps the cabin smelling fresh. Other Mercedes products like the C300 Coupe and S-Class can also come with this feature, but the GLC’s larger size will be more appropriate for dog owners. “If you’re going with a car that has an absorbent interior, you’re going to have to clean it more often to keep it smelling fresh,” explained Tokic.
Some automakers really care about pets. Subaru has funded a whole study regarding the crashworthiness of pet carriers and crates, while Volvo offers genuine accessories designed for pet owners including a dog gate and ramp. A group of pet lovers in New Zealand have even teamed up with MINI to teach dogs how to drive the little compacts!
Car shoppers who have pets should be paying careful attention to the cars they’re buying. These tips will help buyers choose a car that suits their doggy needs.