2013 may be a year when I trade in my much loved dog car (a 2005 Ford Escape) for something that is good 2 humans and 3 dogs. Today I read an article about the 10 best vehicles for pet owners and I have to wonder – is the author (Jason Notte, The Street ) a dog owner? Then I realized that it doesn’t really matter. Dog owners come in many shapes and sizes and so I’m going to give each type of vehicle serious consideration for our family…
10. 2012 Toyota Prius 5-Door HB Three, MRSP: $26,325 , Passenger space:93.7 cubic feet
9. 2012 Toyota Camry Sedan I4 SE Automatic, MRSP: $23,980, Passenger space:102 cubic feet
8. 2012 Hyundai Elantra Sedan Limited Automatic, MRSP: $21,370, Passenger space:95.6 cubic feet
7. 2012 Honda Civic Sedan Auto LX, MRSP: $19,595, Passenger space:94.6 cubic feet
6. 2012 Subaru Outback H4 Automatic 2.5i, MRSP: $25,070, Passenger space:105 cubic feet plus 34.3 cubic feet of rear cargo
5. 2012 Ford Escape XLS Four-Wheel Drive, MRSP: $22,265, Passenger space:99.5 cubic feet plus 34.3 cubic feet of rear cargo
4. 2012 Toyota RAV4 Four-Wheel Drive I4, MRSP: $23,460, Passenger space:132 cubic feet plus 12.3 cubic feet of rear cargo
3. 2012 Toyota Corolla S Sedan Automatic, MRSP: $19,580, Passenger space:92.1
2. 2012 Honda CR-V EX, MRSP: $25,425, Passenger space:101 cubic feet plus 37.2 cubic feet of rear cargo
1. 2012 Ford F-150 Two-Wheel Drive Supercab XLT, MRSP: $31,800, Cargo space: 65.3 cubic feet
VEHICLES FOR DOG OWNERS – SEDANS
If I were to walk onto a car lot today, I wouldn’t bother looking at a sedan, because my initial thought is that these won’t work for our three dog, but I want to be open minded.
- Having a vehicle lower to the ground makes it easier for our dogs to jump in, especially as they get older.
- Having trunk space means that the dogs don’t have to compete with luggage when we pack for our vacation. In our Escape, the dogs get the back seat and our luggage, the golf clubs, and the dogs’ gear is packed into the cargo area like a puzzle. We (more like me) tend to over pack for our trips.
SUBARU IS A TEMPTING OPTION
Subaru is starting to shape itself into the vehicle for dog owners in my mind. Partly due to the commercials and partly because whenever I see one on the road locally, there’s a dog (or two) inside and a Wag More or Who Rescued Who (shouldn’t it be “whom?”) sticker on the back.
Subaru commercials also show these vehicles on road trips and camping trips. The marketing has done a fantastic job of creating a niche for this vehicle. To me, it’s a car for people respectful of the environment (hey, we use biodegradable dog poop bags), people who love animals (we have 5, we travel with three), and people who love the outdoors (again, we have three dogs).
VEHICLES FOR DOG OWNERS – COMPACT SUVs
I currently drive a 2005 Ford Escape. It’s tempting to stay with that vehicle, but only if the following changes have been made…
- I would love for the rear windows to roll all the way down
- I would love to be able to adjust the rear passenger seat forward (and back) like with the Chevy Equinox
- I would love a tad bit more room in the cargo area
- Sounds like I’d love an Explorer, right?
CROSS OVER VEHICLES ARE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE
In June 2011 I was given the opportunity to review / drive the Chevy Equinox and what I loved most about this car (besides the heated seats, On Star, and iPod hook up) was the ability to adjust the seats forward. It made the the rear seat perfect for our dogs. Plus the vehicle is high enough to satisfy a person who is used to driving an SUV, but low enough for the dogs to jump right in with ease.
The one thing that I didn’t like about the Chevy Equinox was that I couldn’t figure out how to lay the rear cargo area flat. There was plenty of room back there – although it seemed tight – but I needed a lesson on laying the seats flat.
VEHICLES FOR DOG OWNERS – TRUCKS
This is the option that my boyfriend can get around. He’s had a series of big, hard to climb into, Ford Trucks and now drives a big Dodge. Our dogs can’t jump into these vehicles without a lot of practice. He has one with a rear cab that has plenty of room for our dogs to relax and sleep on road trips. The front passenger seat is comfortable. But there isn’t any storage room for luggage unless we get a canopy. Plus, the vehicle is so big that it’s a pain to park in some areas.
If a dog owner is limited in the number of vehicles he/she can bring home and lives in a rural area where a truck can be of use, then one with a rear cab and a canopy (or even the cover that extends over the back) would be perfection.
MY VEHICLE WISH LIST
So when it comes down to the perfect vehicle for my family, this is what I want:
- A car with enough room for two humans, 3 dogs, luggage, dog beds, golf clubs, a camera bag, a notebook, and various dog toys and supplies.
- A car that is high enough for me to feel superior to other drivers on the road, but low enough for our dogs to jump in and out of easily.
- Windows that roll down all the way so that the dogs can hang their heads out to smell the air. An moon roof so that we can get fresh air without rolling down the windows if we choose. And lightly tinted windows to offer some protection against the sun while still allowing me to check on the dogs when I run into the store (not on hot days!).
- Fabric seats, because our dogs have sharp nails, no matter how often I trim them down. Plus we’ll be using Bergan Car Seat Covers (which are amazing – and affordable) so there’s no need to spend the extra money on leather interior.
- An iPod hook up, because I want to listen to my favorite podcasts and tunes when we’re on our road trips.
- The ability to move the rear passenger seats forward, creating a flat surface for the dogs to chill and more room in the cargo area.
- Easy adjustment of the seats; I want to lie them flat so that the dogs can spread out in the back or we can load it up after a Costco run.
- Automatic start so that I don’t have to leave our house on cold winter days. Seat warmers for those same days. And the ability to rock in the snow.
- The car definitely needs to keep us safe. I love the idea of side airbags, but worry about the damage they can do to our dogs in an accident. Would they be more harm than good?
- And a groovy color, like green, with big paw prints all over.
What’s on your Dream Car Wish List?