According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 80% of dog owners take their dogs with them when they are driving – whether on short errands, leisure rides or day trips. This trend has led to dog owners selecting vehicles that suit the needs of their dogs as much as themselves. The AAA’s Auto Buying’s team of experts have compiled a list of their top vehicle picks for dog owners based upon a variety of factors such as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of animal ingress and egress, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors.
"More than 45 million households in the U.S. have a dog, and many are taking Fido along for the ride on a regular basis," said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services. "There several vehicles with features that can help keep pets safe, comfortable and easy to clean-up after while also addressing other driver desires such as sportiness, adventure or luxury."
Their choices were divided into six categories to help motorists with a variety of lifestyles identify a vehicle that best meets their needs.
- BMW 3 Series Wagon (Luxury)
- Volvo XC60 (Luxury)
- Subaru Forester (Active Lifestyle)
- Hyundai Santa Fe (Active Lifestyle)
- Honda Element (Kids, Dogs & Everything Else)
- Toyota Venza (Kids, Dogs & Everything Else)
- Mazda3 5-Door (Efficient & Fun)
- Mini Clubman (Efficient & Fun)
- Ford Escape Hybrid (Green)
- Kia Soul (Economical)
- Nissan Cube (Economical)
The Honda Element was given the approval of the President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States last year. Major components of the new concept include a a cushioned pet bed in the cargo area with an elevated platform; second row and cargo area pet restraint systems and an extendable cargo area load-in ramp. Other components include a 12V DC rear ventilation fan, seat covers, rubber floor mats and a spill-resistant water bowl. The Toyota Venza boasts waterproof seat covers, an adjustable harness/booster seat pet restraint system, an adjustable pet barrier and a dog tether to keep canines from jumping into the passenger area. And the Ford Escape Hybrid is marketed as being ideal for "a big, wet dog", with the AAA calling the vehicle "hard to beat".