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Ruff Riders: The 7 Best Cars for Dogs and Their Owners

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Knowing the unique and important needs of people with dogs, we’ve compiled this list of the 7 best cars for dogs and their people!

Every pet parent that travels (even if just down the street to the dog park) knows that having the right vehicle can make all the difference in the world! In fact, many of us shop for a new car with our dogs specifically in mind!

Best Cars For Dogs

If you’ve got a large dog (or multiple dogs), you’ll want something with a bit more room. If you’ve got a senior dog, you might want something that’s easy for your baby to get in and out of. And, if you do lots of traveling with the fur-kids, plenty of storage space and rear climate control can be lifesavers.

Autotrader’s top picks for pet owners and people with a dog in the PAWsenger seat are (in no particular order):

1. 2017 Nissan Rogue:

Best Cars For Dogs

A top pick among pet parents, the Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV that’s perfectly designed for anyone looking for a comfortable ride, ample passenger and cargo space, and good safety scores – all at an affordable price.

To demonstrate just how pet-friendly Nissan’s compact SUV can be, Dennis McCarthy, car coordinator for Fast & Furious films, created the “Rogue Dogue” a one-off customized with special dog-friendly features that include built-in food and water dishes, custom removable dog bed, 360-degree dog washing shower, and an integrated dog drying system.

Check it out here:

While you won’t be able to buy a “Rogue Dogue” outright (at least not yet!), this specially customized version shows just how pet-compatible these vehicles are. What’s more, the Rogue has been around long enough that you can easily find a certified pre-owned if brand-new isn’t in your budget.

2. 2018 Subaru Crosstrek:

Best Cars For Dogs

If you’re looking for a pet-friendly vehicle, Subaru has you covered!

The perfect choice for adventurous dog owners, Crosstreks are equipped with all-wheel drive making them well-outfitted to take you and your four-legged friends off the beaten path. Fold down the rear seats, add a roof basket, bike or kayak rack, or load up your camping gear for the dog-friendly adventure of a lifetime.

Not only does Subaru cater to dog owners with pet-friendly design and huge assortment of accessories and add-ons that include everything from storage solutions to seat and cargo covers (and everything in between), they’ve cornered the market on appealing to dog lovers through unforgettable advertising like this new commercial for the 2018 Crosstrek… does this scenario look familiar to you, too?

What’s more, Subaru loves pets (almost) as much as you do, and are committed to supporting organizations that do good for animals, including funding ASPCA Rescue Rides and sponsoring vehicle and crate/carrier crashworthiness testing initiatives to increase pet safety in ANY vehicle.

3. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica:

Best Cars For Dogs

Whether you’re traveling across town or across the country, when you’re traveling with dogs, comfort and roominess are essential. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica exquisitely offers both, providing easy access and plenty of room for the entire family.

Best Cars For Dogs

Add a Mopar kennel designed especially for the Pacifica for the ultimate in comfort, safety, and security for your very best friend.

Plus, since dog lovers also love supporting companies that support dogs, you can feel good about buying a Chrysler! The automaker recently joined forces with Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization for assistance dogs, in a new campaign called “Give a Dog a Job,” to help raise awareness and funds for assistance programs that help people with disabilities.

4. 2017 BMW X5:

Best Cars For Dogs
Best Cars For Dogs

If luxury is more your speed, your pampered pooch will appreciate all that the BMW X5 has to offer! Ultra comfortable seats, rear climate control, and tons of space bring the comforts of home to the road. Add to that an all-wheel drive system and your BMW is well-equipped to not only take you anywhere, but get your there in style!

Want the luxury of this premium SUV without the premium price tag? Look for a certified pre-owned and put the savings toward Genuine BMW parts like a rear seat or cargo cover to protect your new investment from dirty paws and pet hair.

5. 2017 Volvo XC60:

Best Cars For Dogs

Long known for providing superior safety, the Volvo XC60 compact SUV is no different, even for its four-legged passengers.

With a fuel-efficient (yet surprisingly peppy) 4-cylinder engine, tons of cargo space and headroom, and seats designed for comfort during even the longest family excursions, what the Volvo lacks in fancy features and modern amenities, it makes up for in safety innovations including a drowsy driver alert system and a road sign reader (really!).

Best Cars For Dogs

Volvo also caters to dog parents with genuine parts and accessories to ensure a safe arrival at your dog-friendly destination including a crash-tested safety harness, steel reinforced crates, and protective seat covers.

6. 2017 Honda Fit:

Best Cars For Dogs

Prefer a smaller car? The dog-friendliest cars don’t always have a huge footprint! In fact, the 2017 Honda Fit may very well have been designed specifically with dog owners in mind.

When efficient use of space is as important as fuel-economy, comfort, and performance, look to the Honda Fit to meet your demands. Even multi-pet homes can comfortably – and safely – travel:

Best Cars For Dogs

Dog owners no longer have to spend a lot to get a pet-friendly vehicle – especially since the Honda Fit has been around long enough that there are plenty of certified pre-owned models available now, too!

7. 2018 Chevrolet Equinox:

Best Cars For Dogs
Best Cars For Dogs

With 68 cubic feet of cargo space, the Chevy Equinox feels like much more than a midsize SUV, even with your furriest family in tow.

With all the hooks and safety straps you’ll need to safely secure pets, plenty of room for giant breeds and multi-dog families, and tons of dog-centric accessories like cargo covers, pet barriers, and seat covers, the Equinox ensures comfort and safety for every member of the family. Chevrolet even offers an available denim-like material for seats that are easy to clean – great for pet hair and paw prints!

Whether you choose from the Top Picks above or shop around for the perfect vehicle for the whole family (of course that includes the dog!) keep the following features in mind:

• A rear lift gate allows your dog to jump in and out of the car easily; it also makes for more convenient loading in/loading out of pet carriers, crates and kennels.
• Fold-flat seats create a spacious area for your dog to sit while keeping the actual surface of the seats clean from hair or scratches.
• An airy cabin is especially beneficial for large dogs to stretch out.
• Rear cargo-attachment ringlets help keep carriers and crates from sliding around.
• A containment barrier/divider keeps your dog from jumping up to the front seat while the car is in motion.
• A low ride height helps dogs — especially older ones — get in and out with ease.
• Rear climate control keeps your dog cool and comfortable in transit no matter what the weather is like.
• A sunroof brings fresh air and sunlight so you can keep your dog from hanging hiss head out of the window.
• Underfloor storage gets your things out of the way so your dog can ride more comfortably.

And, don’t forget to visit Autotrader.com to find the perfect dog-friendly vehicle! Autotrader makes the car shopping experience easy and fun for today’s empowered consumer looking to find or sell the perfect new, used or Certified Pre-Owned car.

What features are most important to you when traveling with your dog? Would you purchase your next car specifically with your dog in mind?

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  1. Avatar Of Zaz



    How is the 4runner not on this list? The sliding rear window is amazing for large dogs

  2. Avatar Of Jane Koepsel

    Jane Koepsel


    My Isuzu Trooper was great as well. Not made anymore, but I loved the split rear door. I hate hatchbacks because dogs can get out before you can open it enough to leash them.

  3. Avatar Of Bri



    Which suv is low enough for an elderly dog to be able to get in and out?

  4. Avatar Of Frances



    The best vehicle ever made for dogs was the Chevy Astro van. Sadly no longer made. With the seats removed, I can easily fit 4 – 36" x 24" wire dog crates in the back. Has rear air and with the cottage doors, you can leave the hatch up with the lower doors still locked giving air circulation when parked on cooler day, but still keeping the dogs locked in.

    • Avatar Of Ez Hauler

      EZ hauler


      The Honda Element is the best dog gone hauler ever made. Though not produced any more many good used ones are still available. The only vehicle I have seen that had a dog package option when buying. Those who have one know how superior it is for hauling dogs.

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