With more than 80 percent of dog owners taking their pet along when they drive, AAA has come up with the top cars that can meet a dog owner’s needs.

AAA says its experts tested hundreds of cars based on such factors as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of a dog getting into and out of the car, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors.

The top cars, as described and categorized by AAA, are:

For luxury models:

–BMW 3 series wagon: AAA particularly likes the rubber mats for the cargo area and sturdy dividers that can keep a dog comfortably confined to the cargo area so that the driver isn’t distracted. It says the BMW is probably a better choice for medium to smaller breeds.

–Volvo XC60: A roomy cargo area with such accessories as rubber mats and a pet barrier.

For the active lifestyle:

–Subaru Forester: Cargo capacity with the rear seats folded is an impressive and inviting (for pets) 68 cubic feet, AAA says. A floor lower than many SUVs makes it easier for many dogs to get in and out. Ample tie-down points to secure a kennel.

–Hyundai Santa Fe: AAA says while the third row seat option is no longer available, the cargo space is good for even some larger breed dogs. Accessories include rubber mats for the cargo area to beds and pet dividers. AAA says the ride and handling should be agreeable to both people and their canine passengers.

For kids, dogs and everything else:

–Honda Element: Talk about easy to clean: AAA says “the interior features surfaces and upholstery that can be hosed out, if necessary.” (An Element owner, however, warns against hosing it out. See her comment below.) The clamshell side doors also can make it easier for dogs to get in and out. Among the accessories are a ramp, second-row seat covers that are easy to clean, a soft-sided kennel that can be secured to the car, a spill-resistant water dish and an electric ventilating fan.

–Toyota Venza: Among its dog accessories are a ramp at the rear tailgate, waterproof seat covers, an adjustable harness/booster seat pet restraint system, an adjustable pet barrier and a tether.

Efficient and fun

–Mazda3 5-Door: AAA says key features are its wide opening rear doors, a tailgate and “a robust interior.” AAA says owners will have to tap the aftermarket for such accessories as mats and kennels.

–Mini Clubman: The longer body structure, foldable rear seat and rear barn doors all contribute to making it easy to get even a larger breed in and out, AAA says. With the rear seat folded, the cargo space is more than 33 cubic feet, so most kennels will fit and can be secured with tie-down points.


–Ford Escape Hybrid: AAA notes “Ford actually promotes the cargo area as being ideal for ‘… a big, wet dog’ ” and Ford says the hybrid’s battery pack is completely sealed, “so there is no need to worry about wet pets or wet cargo causing a problem.” Accessories include floor mats and a pet divider.


–Kia Soul: Roomier than its appears. Good for transporting smaller and mid-size breeds. Aftermarket accessories include thick, heavy-duty mats and pet-resistant seat covers.

–Nissan Cube: The interior is “surprisingly roomy and should be good, with the back seats down, for even larger breeds.” But AAA notes that when folded the rear seat does not form a flat floor, so “owner-supplied padding to level the cargo area would most likely be necessary.”

To read more of what AAA says about the pet-friendly cars, CLICK HERE.

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  1. Amy R

    Please, please, please do not hose an Element out. While it does have surfaces that may appear to be able to be hosed out, water is going to get down and under them and cause deterioration. I own an Element and 3 dogs (had both since 2003) and it is the best car ever for them. The only hose needed is a vacuum hose. Use a damp cloth to wipe hard surfaces clean. NO WATER HOSES!

    October 25th, 2010 8:05 am

  2. Indo

    I have a 100LB Siberian Husky and our 2005 Toyota 4Runner is the Best SUV for us. The auto rear window is a Huge can’t miss for Dogs. I can’t believe the 4Runner didn’t make your list.

    October 25th, 2010 9:29 am

  3. Jimonious

    I love my dog, but she’s a bit on the small side, (9 pounds). Since she’ll fit and exist peacefully in pretty much any car I have I’m not so worried about the cars. I did like hearing about all the accessories that I can get for the car though to make our long trips more enjoyable for both of us. Thanks Road Warrior!

    October 25th, 2010 11:41 am

  4. Ali

    VW Beetle Convertible, top down windows up. My puggle LOVES it!

    October 25th, 2010 11:45 am

  5. Stacey Sheldon

    My mini schnauzer fits comfortably into my Honda Element! Love this car.

    October 25th, 2010 2:16 pm

  6. Dave

    The Honda Fit is a wonderful car for dogs! With the rear seats folded flat, our large (90 lb) Hovawart has a lot of room. Unlike most SUVs, the Fit has a low “jump in and out” height which reduces concerns about joint damage. It is also very economical to operate.

    February 16th, 2012 2:51 pm

  7. Spencer

    I want to second the Honda Fit comment. We have 2, 113 pound dogs, a Great Pyrenees and a Newfoundland. They can easily jump in and out of the back hatch of the Fit and the Great Pyrenees has plenty of headroom in the back to stand. He can do his “bobbing” side-to-side and the Newfy can sit farther back, undisturbed.

    We tried several cars, with the Prius V being a distant second in price and headroom for the dogs.

    For gas mileage, room for dogs, ease of ingress and egress, and low purchase price, the Fit was the best choice for us.

    May 22nd, 2012 6:28 am

  8. Tomy @ cargo mats

    My dog Rassy, a beagle loves our Hyundai Hatchback, never sits at the back though….

    October 28th, 2012 5:53 am

  9. Ashley Tripp

    I would like to give a third comment concerning the Honda Fit. My husband and I just bought one, and it is a great car if you have dogs. We have 3 Border Collies, and sometimes have up to 6 in the back if we are helping a breeder or rescuer out. Even with 6 in the back, there is room for all dogs, all dog supplies, and our luggage. There are even several secure areas to tie down a dog if necessary. Also, if you have to crate a large dog, there is room for a fairly large crate up to 36″ tall with no problem getting it to fit (in the Fit of course!). I bet you could fit one up to 42″ tall, but we have not had a need to put one that large in our car. We love our Honda Fit, and the price is perfect for newly graduated college students on a tight budget.

    December 19th, 2012 1:30 pm

  10. leigh@floorlinermats

    My dogs Poochie and Porkchop loves travelling with me. I always bring them with me when I go malling, It kinda distract me seeing them running and crawling to the driver’s seat, while I’m driving. This car dog friendly cars are a must. By the way I’m driving a toyota Altis.

    May 15th, 2013 6:47 am

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