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I’m in the market for the perfect dog car and I know what you’re thinking: “He’s crazy if he’s basing his decision to buy a car on the needs of his dogs.” Well it’s true! I recently sold my old car, a Mazda RX-8 (I loved that car) to find a more suitable car for my two dogs.
“Surveys show about half of all car-buyers consider the comfort of the family dog when buying a new car – and 65 percent take their pets on errands,” says Dr. Becker, the New York Times best-selling author and co-author with Gina Spadafori of the new bowWOW!: Curiously Compelling Facts, True Tales, and Trivia Even Your Dog Won’t Know.
“We’re glad to see car-makers address the comfort and safety of our dogs on the road because people don’t want to leave their pets — or should we say ‘four-legged family members’ – behind. More than a quarter even sometimes take pets to work,” he said.– DogCars.com
I guess considering my dogs before buying a new car is not really strange after all. Right now I’m borrowing my mother’s 2000 CRV until I make my purchase. The CRV is a little small, but adequate for toting my two boys (the 2000 CRV is much smaller than todays CRV), but not quite what I want in my perfect Dog Car.
Let the journey begin!
There are only three in this family. Myself, Linus, and Stetson. I’m not a big guy only 5 foot 8 inches and about 170 pounds so most cars will probably fit me. Linus is a 3 year old Australian Shepherd mix (looks an awful lot like a skinny black Lab) and weighs about 55 pounds. Stetson is a 1 year old purebred Black Labrador Retriever and currently weighs about 65 pounds (he probably won’t grow much bigger in height, but will probably pack on another 10 pounds as he matures).
When Stetson joined the family about a year ago I new that eventually my RX-8 sports car would no longer cut it. Even though I could fit both dogs in the car it was a tight fit and the leather seats really didn’t appreciate Linus and Stetson’s claws.
So, here we are, in the market for a car, SUV, or truck that will fit one average sized adult and two medium/large dogs.
The Perfect Dog Car Criteria
Criteria for the dogs:
- Seats that fold flat or easily removable – hopefully fits a crate or two.
- Plenty of usable cargo space relative to the size of the vehicle with wide, square backs, and little rear slope to make most of cargo area.
- Dog friendly interior – Even the best dog can have accidents in the car.
- Door & window locks – Dogs are smart and some can open a car door.
- All-wheel or four-wheel drive and high ground clearance – for camping or going to the mountains with your best friend (I’m talking about your dog of course).
Criteria for the humans:
- Price Range: Under 30K
- Curb Appeal – Hopefully the car is not hard on the eyes.
- Fuel Economy -Unfortunately SUV’s get worse gas mileage.
- Reliability – If you’re car is not working what good is it?
- Retains Value – Cars are terrible investments, but we want it to retain some of it’s value.
- Extras – Any miscellaneous extra goodies the car may have.
- Car in the City – Smooth ride? Does it have power? Handle Well?
The Perfect Dog Car Candidates
My choices and initial impressions
- Honda Element – Interior seemingly built for dogs, but UGLY.
- Jeep Wrangler Unlimited – Four door offers plenty of room, rugged interior, and classic looks. Reliability is questioned and poor fuel economy. – This link will take you straight to my review of the Wrangler Ulimited!
- Scion xB – It’s probably considered a sedan, but has decent interior space for a smaller car.
- Toyota FJ Cruiser – Great off road vehicle like the Wrangler with more interior comfort. Poor fuel economy. – This link will take you straight to my review of the FJ Cruiser!
- Mazda CX-7 – Nice refined look, but interior might be small.
- Nissan Xterra – SUV built for the outdoors. Poor fuel economy.
- Jeep Commander – Nice size can seat up to 7. High price and poor fuel economy is a deterrent.
- Toyota Tacoma – Only truck in the line up. Truck bed gives you many options, but small cabin space.
- Hyundai Santa Fe – Great value with a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty. Nothing stands out on this car.
- Ford Escape Hybrid – Fuel Economy is great, but interior might be small.
- Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid – Fuel economy is great, but interior might be small.
- Toyota Highlander Hybrid – Nice large vehicle (seats 7), but price is out of my range.
- Mercury Mariner Hybrid – Fuel economy is great and supposedly has some nice tech gadgets on the inside, but interior might be small.
- Toyota Prius Hybrid – #1 on fuel economy, but probably has the smallest interior. Can I even fit a crate in this thing?
I may add more to this list as time moves on, but these are the candidates so far. Of course, I’m probably leaning more towards few of the cars on the list, but I’m going to try to be objective and test drive each car keeping in mind both my comfort with the vehicle and my dogs comfort.
By the way, a great resource on dog cars can be found on the http://www.dogcars.com website. This is a site devoted to exactly what I’m researching. By the way I fused some of my criteria with some of the criteria listed on the dog cars website.
What do you think? I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who at least consider your dogs interests when purchasing the perfect dog car!
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Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.