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.