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10 Dog-Friendly Cars for Dog Owners That Like Road Trips

Written by: Dogster Team

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Dogster Team

Jack Russell Terrier in lounger dog bed for travel inside the car

10 Dog-Friendly Cars for Dog Owners That Like Road Trips

Car-buying is a whole new game when pets enter the family. Comfort becomes harder to compromise, and new concerns over accessibility and protection against shedding, slobber, and nails take priority. It’s a lot to consider, and with a pricey purchase like this, not making an effort can set you up for serious headaches and regret.

If you’re looking for the ideal car for your dog but don’t want to spend hours investigating every vehicle on the market, we have you covered. Take the easy route to find your next set of wheels by checking out these 10 dog-friendly cars.

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How Are Dog-Friendly Cars Classified?

Space is the primary concern for pets, and most dog-friendly vehicles are larger cars, including minivans and SUVs. Due to their high ceilings, spacious interiors, and low loading height, minivans can be more practical options for growing dogs. As dogs age, entering a van will be easier for them and you if you have to give them a hand.

For a lighter ride, a crossover is an excellent choice for small and medium-sized dogs. Of course, if you’re looking for a ride for your Yorkie, any sedan with a high safety rating can suffice.

The 10 Dog-Friendly Cars for Dog Owners

1. Subaru Forester

Style: Compact SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39.6” (Base), 37.6” (Upgraded Trims)
Cargo Space (2nd Row Down): 74.2 cu. ft. (Base), 69.1 cu. ft. (Upgraded Trims)
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 33/26

The Subaru Forester is an adventure-focused compact SUV that’s perfect if you enjoy occasional off-roading. It’s available in six trims, and they all come standard with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology for collision detection, lane-centering, adaptive cruise control, and other driver-assist features to ensure your dog’s safety.

While the base model is limited in features, it has slightly more space for your dog, adding 2 inches of head clearance and up to five more cubic feet of cargo volume than alternative trims.

Still, all trims have ample cargo room, and upgrading adds fun features like onboard Wi-Fi and a sunroof.

Subaru caters to dogs, and it provides several pet accessories, including harnesses, door protectors, travel bowls, and cargo liners. Plus, Subaru partners with the Center for Pet Safety and the ASPCA to enhance vehicle safety and improve animal welfare.

2. Toyota Sienna

Style: Hybrid Minivan
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39.9”
Cargo Space (3rd Row Down): 75.2 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 36/36

The hybrid Toyota Sienna may not be as versatile as an SUV, but the exceptional fuel efficiency, safety features, and spaciousness make it a top choice among cars for dogs of all sizes. To ensure everyone’s safety, all Sienna trims come standard with Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0, featuring pre-collision and pedestrian detection, lane departure assist, and road sign assist.

The cargo area has 75 cubic feet of volume behind the second row. A three-zone climate control and air filter will keep your dog cool while helping to remove some of the hair and dander they might shed during the drive.

While a second-row bench comes standard, captain’s chairs are available in all upgrades. The seats can slide up to 25 inches, giving your dog even more space in the back if needed.

3. Land Rover Discovery

Style: Midsize SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39”
Cargo Space (3rd Row Down): 45 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 24/19

You and your dog can ride in style with the Land Rover Discovery. Though pricier than many competitors, the premium features make every drive fun and comfortable for all.

The three-row SUV is a capable off-road machine. The air suspension allows height adjustments to make rear access even more convenient for your dog. Upgrading to higher trims adds three-zone climate control to keep everyone comfy.

Better still, Land Rover has Pet Transportation and Loadspace Packs. Optional accessories include:

  • Spill-proof water bowl
  • Cargo space liner
  • Row partition
  • Access ramp
  • Portable rinse system

Luxury and comfort details abound, from the Pivi Pro-powered 11.4-inch touchscreen to the wireless smartphone charging pad. A 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and a host of added driver-assist safety features come standard. No matter the trim, you and your dog will be comfy and safe, on-road or off.

4. Honda Odyssey

Style: Minivan
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39.5”
Cargo Space (3rd Row Down): 92.3 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 28/19

The Honda Odyssey is built for transporting families, even a litter of dogs. The generous cargo space reaches 92.3 cubic feet with the third-row seats down and second-row Magic Slide® seats pushed up, giving even the girthiest dogs space to share with friends.

Adding to your dog’s comfort is a quiet cabin for low-stress rides. In upgraded options, pet parents enjoy an in-cabin camera and backseat speaker so you can watch and talk to your dog to ensure they’re safe and sound.

Regarding safety, standard features in the 5-star NHTSA-rated minivan include automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and assist, and blind spot monitoring.

5. Jeep Wrangler

Style: Compact/Midsize SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 41.7”
Cargo Space (2nd Row Down): 31.7 cu. ft. (2-Door) 72.4 cu. ft. (4-Door)
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 23/17 (2-Door), 22/16 (4-Door)

For practicality, the Wrangler truly only makes sense for the adventurer. The fuel economy isn’t impressive (especially the Rubicon 392’s abysmal 16/13 hwy/city mpg), and beyond the Uconnect 5 12.3-inch touchscreen and wireless CarPlay and Android connectivity, notable standard features are sparse.

Also, the elevated entry can be challenging for small or aging dogs without a ramp.

Fortunately, there seems to be a solution for everyone. If you have the budget, upgrading to a 4xe hybrid gets you much better fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, plenty of comfort features are available to customize your ride how you see fit without sacrificing ruggedness.

No matter the trim, the Wrangler’s topless/doorless convertibility, durable and easy-to-clean interior, and incomparable off-road capabilities make this one of the most fulfilling and empowering drives. There’s no compromising with the Wrangler; if you and your dog want to go there, it’ll take you.

6. Honda CR-V

Style: Compact Crossover SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39.4”
Cargo Space (2nd Row Down): 76.5 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 34/28

The ever-reliable, practical, and versatile Honda CR-V is an excellent fit for the economy-minded dog owner. It comes in front-wheel and AWD options and hybrid models for even better mileage (up to 40 mpg combined).

A trade-off for a smaller size is the lower towing capacity and cargo room, but the 76.5 cubic feet with the back seats down is more than sufficient for most pets. All CR-Vs come equipped with Honda SafetySense® packages to give you all the driver-assist functionality needed to keep you and your dog safe.

A step up to the EX supplies dual-zone climate control, while the CR-V’s interior appointments and reclining/foldable rear seats enhance everyone’s comfort. Though not as feature-laden as its competitors, the CR-V retains Honda’s trademark quality and dependability.

7. Tesla Model Y

Style: Electric
2nd Row Head Clearance: 38.2”
Cargo Space (2nd Row Down): 76 cu. ft.
Electric Range: 310

Tesla has been a go-to for those less focused on budget and more on cutting-edge technology and eco-friendliness. Now, unique pet-focused features make the lineup some of the most dog-friendly vehicles around.

The Tesla Y isn’t as spacious as the three-row Model X, but the 72.1 cubic feet of cargo room make it an excellent mix of value and practicality for many dog owners. Unique features include the all-glass roof, a 15.1-inch touchscreen, and the frunk, letting you haul your groceries even if pets are filling the back. Dog Mode (standard on all Teslas) is a crucial differentiator. With it enabled, you can confidently leave your dog in the car when you need to run errands (scary as that sounds).

The cabin stays climate-controlled, and an external display assures passersby your dog is safe. The mobile Tesla app lets you control and monitor everything remotely, even accessing the in-cabin camera to provide a real-time look at your dog.

8. Chevy Traverse

Style: Midsize SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 40.02”
Cargo Space (3rd Row Down): 57.8 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 27/18

When you need a car for big dogs, the Chevy Traverse gives you all the room they’ll need. While you may sacrifice fuel economy, you’ll make up for it in comfort and space.

Your dog can get a whopping 98.2 cubic feet of space with all rear seats down or 57.8 cubic feet with the second row up. New looks come with new performance, with a fresh Z71 trim delivering off-road capabilities to take you and your dog further.

Not only does the digital display upgrade from 2023’s 8-inch screen to a massive 17.7-inch diagonal, but you also get standard driver-assist features to monitor and respond to numerous hazards from all angles. Everything is geared toward keeping you and your dog 100% safe and content.

9. Volvo XC90

Style: Midsize SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 38.5”
Cargo Space (3rd Row Down): 41.8 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 27/22

The Volvo XC90 is a luxury midsize SUV promising complete custom comfort for drivers and their dogs. While Volvo’s XC60 and wagon models deliver ample space, the XC90 expands to 85.7 cubic feet with the second and third rows down, over 20 more cubic feet than the XC60.

If you’re worried about how that might affect gas mileage, upgrading to the Recharge plug-in hybrid bumps the economy to 58 mpg combined.

The XC90 scores top marks for safety. Drivers get a comprehensive set of standard driver assist features and options to add head-up displays and 360-degree cameras.

With optional air suspension, you enjoy a more dynamic ride and a lowering function to make it easier for your dog to get in and out. Plus, proprietary accessories like dog harnesses, gates, and liners keep your dog safe and your vehicle clean and damage-free.

10. Kia Soul

Style: Subcompact SUV
2nd Row Head Clearance: 39.5”
Cargo Space (2nd Row Down): 62.1 cu. ft.
Gas Mileage (Hwy/City): 33/27

The Kia Soul is much less expensive than many vehicles on our list. While that may lead to some stripped-back or missing features and limited performance, it’s also expected from a brand focused on maximizing value. For dog-owning car buyers, it hits all the necessary notes.

The Soul includes comprehensive safety features on all trims, including:

  • Lane-keep assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Automatic braking
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Driver attention warning

For a nominal price, upgrading to the S trim provides dual-zone climate control to keep your furry friend comfortable. Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy fun perks like a 10.25-inch touchscreen, power lumbar support, and wireless device charging when you jump to the top-of-the-line but still affordable EX.

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When it’s time to buy a car, dogs can make an already tough decision even more complicated. They have unique safety concerns, and their comfort is always top of mind.

At the same time, you must cater to your unique tastes and desires. It may take a little extra research, but starting with this list of dog-friendly cars will give you the best chance of finding the perfect ride for everyone in the family.

Featured Image Credit: FedBul, Shutterstock

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