Many moons ago I wrote about the perfect dog car. At the time I was interested in purchasing a new car that would be suitable for me and my dogs. I was driving a 2000 Honda CRV which was suitable, but not quite the perfect dog friendly car. Actually not even close, but light years better then my previous Mazda RX-8.
So, the hunt was on for the perfect dog friendly car and guess what I decided? There wasn’t a perfect dog friendly car and today I’m still driving my 2000 Honda CRV yearning for the day when someone will cater exclusively to us dog lovers.
Will There Ever Be A Perfect Dog Friendly Car?
I think we’ve been very close with the Pet friendly Honda Element. If there was a car made for dogs the Honda Element just may have been that car, but guess what? Honda discontinued the Element several years ago. Today you can only purchase a used Honda Element and the Elements of the past will not come with the same bells and whistles you see on the latest and greatest vehicles of today.
This all reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows, The Simpsons. One of the classic episodes is when Homer meets up with his long lost brother, Herb voiced by Danny Devito. Homer is allowed to design his own car exactly as he wants complete with an oversized drink cup holder (brilliant) for your giant beverages.
Here are the car’s features, according to the Simpsons Wiki:
- The Homer has two bubble domes; one in the front, while the one in the back is for quarreling kids, and comes with optional restraints and muzzles.
- According to Homer, the engine sound causes people to think “the world’s coming to an end.”
- There are three horns, as Homer claims that “you can never find a horn when you’re mad.” The three horns play the song “La Cucaracha.”
- The car also features gigantic cupholders, which actually became a feature on many cars in the 1990s onward.
- The car has various outdated features such as bubble domes, shag carpeting, and tailfins. It also has a metal bowler as a hood ornament.
The Homer was marketed as, “powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball” and “designed for the average man.”
Unfortunately the monstrosity probably only meets the demands for a market of one Homer J Simpson at a sticker price of $82,000.
I feel like I’m in the same boat as Homer. I could design the perfect dog car for me, but it may only be meeting the demands of a few or the one like The Homer. To quote another famous movie character “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” if you can guess where that quote comes from then high paw to you!
Anyhow after years of thought. Here’s what I’d like to see in my perfect dog friendly car:
1. Plastic Floor Boards
Most cars, trucks, and SUVs have carpeted floors. If you have a dog that sheds then you know the pains of trying to remove fur from the carpet and out of all the little nooks and crannies in your vehicle. Not too mention the carpet can retain some of your favorite doggy odors especially if you’re the outdoorsy type and love to watch your best pal romp through the mud.
A few cars we know of that offer plastic floor boards:
- Toyota FJ Cruiser – I’ve heard others give the FJ high marks as a dog friendly vehicle
- Honda Element (discontinued)- Popular opinion has said you can hose out these cars, but I’ve heard that is not the case and it’s not wise to hose out the interior of the Element even though most models come with plastic floors. I believe the high end model has carpeted floors.
- Jeep Wrangler - plastic flooring is not stock, but the carpet floors are easily removed. Some have even treated their floor boards with a rubber gorilla grip substance. Also, an added bonus is you can hose out the inside as Jeep has included plug holes for water to drain out.
2. Weather Resistant Interior
Weather resistant interiors are a common feature in many SUVs which make SUVs more suitable as dog cars. One thing I’ve noticed with my CRV is that the cloth seats really hold in odors…especially doggy odors! Not to mention that dog fur clings to the cloth much more then it does to leather or vinyl.
A few cars we know of that offer weather resistant interiors:
- Most Rugged SUVs
It was always my dream to own a convertible. While most convertibles are sports cars there is one SUV that is also a convertible. Step forward Jeep Wrangler. I guess you could probably include the HUM V, but I think that’s out of most of our price range. There have been other convertible SUVs from our past.
A few that you might find out on the road still are:
- Jeep Wrangler – cloth or hard top. your choice!
- Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet – just saw this one. It may be worth a closer look
- Suzuki Samurai (blast from the past) – one of my buddies from college had one of these
- Geo Tracker (blast from the past) – my college buddies girlfriend had one of these
4. Powered Off Air Circulation
Something that wasn’t around when we first started looking for a new dog car was powered off air circulation which helps to keep the ambient temperature of the cabin cooler. While we don’t recommend leaving your dog in the car on any warm day any feature that keeps the car cooler while your dog is inside would be an added benefit. Even better would be a car that can run air conditioning without running the engine. If this feature is available someone please let me know.
Here’s the one care we know of that offers powered of air circulation:
- Toyota Prius – and not all models. I think this is only in their high end model with the solar panels on the roof.
5. Dog Friendly Features
In recent years we’ve noticed that many car manufacturers have tried to appeal to dog lovers by adding extra features to make their cars more dog friendly. We’ve also seen some go so far as to run an entire campaign around their entire lineup of cars. Here are some of the front runners and offering add ons for your next dog-friendly car
- Honda Element - The Element is most likely king of the road for dog friendliness and was named dog car of the year by DogCars.com (now defunct) a few years back. We wrote a short post about what features are included in the dog friendly honda element.
- Toyota Venza - Back in 2009 Toyota included a dog friendly package on their Venza. I’m not sure if it’s still available today, but we saw and documented those add ons in a toyota venza doggy post
- Subaru - Subaru’s dog tested marketing campaign has been a hit amongst many dog lovers. Even before the “Dog Tested” campaign hit the screens I had always heard that Subaru made a great dog car.
6. Good Gas Mileage
We like to think we’re raising green dogs…saving a little money on gas is nice too. While SUVs seem to be the cars most in tune with being dog friendly one thing most SUVs are not are gas mileage friendly. However, there are a few Hybrid SUVs out there on the market with varying degrees of gas savings. Subaru offers a few gas saving cars and smaller SUVs can often be much more friendly on your wallet when reaching for the pump.
Here are a few gas mileage friendly cars:
- Subaru XV Crosstek Hybrid – 29 City, 33 Hwy
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid – 27 City, 28 Hwy
- Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid – 25 City, 28 Hwy
- Toyota RAV4 – 24 City, 31 Hwy
- Honda CRV – 23 City, 31 Hwy
Our dream is that Honda will bring back a revamped hybrid, dog friendly Element. I guess we’d also be looking for a convertible version that would let the breeze run through our dog’s fur (I can’t say my hair because I lost that years ago).
Backup dream is for Jeep to add a hybrid, gas mileage friendly version of the Wrangler. This is probably a more realistic dream.
So what about you? Everyone has different needs and mine most certainly won’t be the same as yours. What do you want in your perfect dog friendly car? Will yours be a monstrosity the likes of a Homer Simpson mobile? Tell us about it in the comment section below.