Are you in the market for a car that fits the whole family, including four-legged passengers? Buying a car that suits you and your dog can be tricky. You may need space for you, your family and your luggage, as well as plenty of room for your furry pal. Besides space – comfort, performance and safety need to be considered too.
To help you find a car that’s great for dogs, we’ve put together a guide on the best cars for dog owners. Use the links below to explore the guide.
Here, we take a look at a few things you should mull over before hitting the forecourt in search of your next dog-friendly car:
- Safety – There are a couple of legal requirements you need to stick to when you’ve got an animal in the car. The Highway Code states that pets should be suitably restrained, so the car you choose must have space to fit the appropriate restraints or a pet crate. Child locks and window locks can make a car safer for you and your pet too.
- Suspension and ride comfort – Like us, dogs can suffer from car sickness, so be sure to test drive a car first to check its refinement and comfort. Ideally, a car with a firm ride and minimal body roll through the corners is best.
- Boot height and opening width – Dogs aren’t natural climbers, so they won’t appreciate clambering in and out of a boot that’s high off the ground. Consider the boot height and size of the opening, as well as the size of the lip; a flat boot floor with a good, wide boot door is best.
- Electric windows – It’s essential that dogs get a good flow of fresh air while travelling, so we’d recommend choosing a car that has electric windows that you can operate from the driver’s side.
- Easy cleaning – Let’s face it, travelling with dogs is a recipe for a dirty and smelly car, so think about how easy your new car will be to clean. Some cars have a rubber boot liner that’s specifically designed for carrying dogs, so you should look out for clever features like this to make your life easier down the road.
- Space for you and your dog – As we mentioned, you’ll need a fairly roomy car if you travel with your dog on a regular basis. A big boot is pretty much essential, especially if you’ve got a large dog (or more than one). Don’t forget about your luggage and legroom either; the car should be comfortable for you, too.
Considering all of this, we’ve handpicked a selection of cars which we think are ideal for transporting you and your pooch, whether you’re heading for a walk on the beach or doing the dreaded trip to the vets.
Land Rover Discovery
It should come as no surprise that the Land Rover Discovery is one of the best cars for dog owners. With its off-road pedigree, the Discovery has been helping farmers and country-folk carry their dogs for decades – and the latest model is no exception.
One of the best things about the Land Rover Discovery is the option to add Pet Packs – add-on extras designed to make transporting your dog easier. Land Rover has come up with some unique solutions for pet owners, including a shower for cleaning your dog complete with a 6.5-litre water tank, an access ramp, a rubber boot liner and an area for storing food and drink.
Perfect for those with a sizeable pooch, the Nissan X-Trail benefits from a colossal boot space that’s big enough for Great Danes and St. Bernards alike. The X-Trail is one of the UK’s most popular crossover SUVs, and Nissan has found favour with dog owners thanks to its clever innovations which make carrying your dog a doddle.
Invest in the £600 optional Paw Pack option for your X-Trail, and carrying your dog will be as easy (if not easier) than carrying the kids. For this, you get a dog guard, access ramp, rubber boot liner, spill-resistant water and food bowls, and storage area for your dog’s bits and pieces.
Skoda Superb Estate
Over the last decade, Skoda has reinvented itself as the go-to manufacturer for comfortable, sensible cars, and the Superb Estate is one of the Czech car brand’s most refined and spacious models. We think the Superb is one of the best estates for dog owners, combining practicality and comfort with an affordable price tag.
What can you and your dog expect from the Skoda Superb? Well, for a start, the car has a best-in-class boot capacity, with 660 litres of space for Rover to stretch out in. The boot floor is also totally flat, making for easy cleaning and the option to add a full-sized pet crate. And, because it’s an estate, your dog will have no trouble jumping into the low boot door.
Volkswagen Passat Estate
If you want to spend a bit more on a car for you and your four-legged chum, the Volkswagen Passat Estate provides all the benefits of the Skoda with a few more added plus points besides.
The Passat Estate has a 650-litre boot space with a flat load floor, so it’s plenty big enough for a couple of large dogs to find comfort on long journeys. But, perhaps the biggest draw of the Passat is its build quality; it is a Volkswagen after all. Pet owners will find the boot space easy to clean and maintain, with quality materials standing up well to dirt, fur, moisture, muddy paws and whatever else your dog throws its way.
As Ford’s biggest model to date, the S-Max offers room for the whole family – and we mean the whole family. The MPV has 7 seats for passengers, and even when they’re all in use, there’s still a respectable boot space of 285 litres, which is more than enough room for a terrier-sized pet crate.
The great thing about the S-Max is its adaptability. For instance, if you’re not using the two seats at the back, these can be folded neatly away to increase the boot space to 700 litres. You can even fold down all the rear seats, giving you a van-like capacity of over 2,000 litres – ideal if your furry friend likes to stretch out and get comfy after a long walk on the sand.
The Jaguar F-Pace has scooped dozens of industry awards and accolades since it rolled off the production line in 2015, with pundits praising its performance, refinement and innovations. And it seems Jaguar didn’t forget our four-legged companions when designing the F-Pace, with a range of optional extras designed with our pets in mind.
Rather than a whole pack, Jaguar gives you the option to add individual ‘Pet Products’ to your new or used F-Pace, so you only have to buy what you and your dog actually need. There are plenty of useful options available, including an access ramp, spill-resistant bowls, a handy portable shower, rubber boot liner and a foldable pet carrier.
Mercedes E-Class Estate
If you want to travel in complete luxury with your dog in tow, look no further than the Mercedes E-Class Estate. This range-topping Merc is packed with clever features that will make your daily commute a real joy, while a huge boot capacity and other considered features will ensure weekend jaunts to the coast with your dog are fuss-free, too.
The E-Class Estate is the perfect car for dog owners. Rather than adding a weighty access ramp, Mercedes gives you the ability to lower the suspension at the back, making it easy for your dog to clamber inside. When they’re safely onboard, they shouldn’t be able to damage the tough rear trim or boot lining, while the smooth ride keeps everyone comfortable.
If you’re in the market for a small, affordable car with space to carry a small- to medium-sized dog, the Fiat Panda is worth a look. The Panda may have been around for a while now, but it’s compact yet spacious design means it’s still really popular for those who want a practical runabout that doesn’t cost the earth.
The Fiat Panda has a best-in-class boot capacity among its city car rivals, with 260 litres of space available even with the rear seats in position; that’s plenty of room for a Labrador to ride in comfort. There are a couple of optional extras you can add to your Panda to make it more dog-friendly too, including a dog guard that essentially transforms the boot into one big pet crate.