The Best Cars for Canine Companions: 6 Picks for Adventurous Drivers With Dogs
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To many of us who love the outdoors, dogs are synonymous with the adventurous lifestyle. They’re loyal, enthusiastic traveling and hiking companions, faithful protectors when the going gets tough, and a constant connection to the natural world that we love.
The comfort and convenience of our canine companions should certainly be considered when choosing a new vehicle. Of course, we all crave something well-equipped, good to look at, and preferably with at least some off-road ability. But there are swanky new vehicles that boast all this and are still dog-friendly to boot.
By dog-friendly, we mean rides that check certain base boxes for canine comfort and cleanup. These include spaciousness, easy-wipe upholstery, rear air vents, and tint. But many contemporary cars also offer dog-desirable extras like luggage partitions, intercoms to soothe rear-riding dogs while driving, and even pet-sized portable showers.
Here are six canine cruisers that will keep both people and pooches happy on the trail.
The Best Cars for Canine Companions
2022 Subaru Outback
It’s no surprise that a Subaru tops this list. The Japanese automaker is famed for its commitment to animals, to the point of being the ASPCA’s largest corporate donor and even hosting an annual Subaru Loves Pets month. Indeed, alongside the Outback, we could’ve equally included Subie’s Forester and Crosstrek models as capable adventure vehicles that also cater to pooches.
Earlier this year, Subaru announced a new line of specially designed pet gear and accessories. These include a console lid protector and padded seat protector, collapsible pet kennel, dog loading ramp, rear bumper protector mat, seat covers, and even license plate frames proclaiming, “Pet Lover.”
If that’s not impressive enough, Subaru is also now offering state-of-the-art Sleepypod products, including a pet carrier/mobile bed, travel bowl, and pet harness.
The Outback scores particularly big with dog lovers thanks in part to its voluminous cargo area, measuring 75.7 cubic feet, which features multiple tiedown hooks to make securing Fido’s crate a breeze.
While a ride height of 8.7 inches (9.5 inches in the Wilderness Edition) might challenge older or smaller dogs, the cavernous rear hatch makes the jump easier — or just opt for the available trunk ramp with its cute bone motifs.
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2022 Kia Telluride
Kia’s 3-row Telluride SUV offers much of the convenience and flexibility of a minivan, without the latter’s mumsy aura, and all for under $33,000. Its 87 cubic feet of cargo space is ample for even large and lively mutts.
Standard synthetic leather upholstery, called SynTex, makes it easy to wipe off paw prints and treat crumbs, while still looking chic. Rear privacy glass and ceiling-mounted air vents for the second and third rows will keep your four-legged pal nice and cool.
The Telluride’s infotainment system includes a feature called Driver Talk, which allows the driver to communicate with rear passengers, dogs included, without the need to shout. This could prove invaluable when a pet needs reassuring or comforting, such as after a vet visit, but you’re driving alone.
Telluride’s standard Smart Key, which allows entry without having to operate or even hold the fob, is ultra-handy when wrestling a boisterous hound aboard.
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2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country
Volvo is discontinuing most versions of its handsome V60 luxury wagon but has retained the very capable Cross Country, with standard all-wheel drive and higher ground clearance. The V60 Cross Country is also a great ride for dogs while forgoing the additional bulk of an SUV.
Its 50.9 cubic feet of cargo space is ample for most pets, while the famously smooth ride and hushed cabin should calm even the most nervous of furry friends.
Volvo also offers an unusually comprehensive range of pet-friendly accessories. These include a user-friendly dog harness, available in a range of sizes. An easy-to-install protective grille safely divides the cargo area from the passenger compartment, while a dog gate can split the cargo area into different compartments and prevent a pet from leaping out of the car as the tailgate opens.
Volvo displays its attention to dogs by supporting The Petfinder Foundation, an adoption organization that supports animal shelters and rescue groups, and by offering pet insurance through Liberty Mutual.
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2021 Jeep Wrangler
The legendary Jeep Wrangler needs no introduction to adventure lovers, and its many 4-door incarnations are also pretty dog-friendly. The Wrangler’s durable and water-resistant interior surfaces may be intended for topless mudding and water fording, but they are also resistant to canine claws and make post-dog cleanup quick and easy.
Doggy accessories for the Wrangler include the Mopar Floor Cargo Trail Rail, offering more tiedown points for a pet crate; a collapsible Jeep-branded pet kennel; and a rear seat dog partition.
But perhaps the biggest bonus of the Wrangler (for more confident dogs, at least) is its removable top, doors, and windshield. If you’ve ever delighted at those hounds who love to hang their heads out of car windows, the Wrangler offers them all of that fun, times 10 (safely harnessed, of course).
The airiness of the Wrangler also reduces any sense of canine claustrophobia while, with the doors off, making four-legged entry and egress considerably easier.
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2022 Honda CR-V
Honda’s CR-V may appear more soccer mom than wilderman but, with optional all-wheel drive, it offers an affordable and fuel-efficient, dog-friendly ride that can at least tackle dirt-road trailheads and muddy campsites. Starting below $27K and with hybrid versions (which are all AWD) rated at 40 mpg city, the CR-V is the best budget buy for dog lovers.
While the CR-V is categorized as a compact crossover SUV, its incongruous 75 cubic feet of cargo space, plus rear air vents, will mean that your pet can always be comfortable. The wipe-down leather upholstery (in most trim levels), low loading floor, and an unusually flat cargo area for pet crates leave the focus firmly on fun with your dog.
Honda’s range of pet accessories, including seat-back protectors and a plastic cargo liner, only boost the CR-V’s low-maintenance hound-iness.
In Japan, Honda even offers its Honda Dog series of accessories, including paw-print shifter knobs and center caps, and a waterproof pet seat with an integrated window.
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2021 Land Rover Discovery
While Land Rover has increasingly marketed the urban appeal of its luxury SUVs, its roots are firmly in off-road and rural markets. The original, all-wheel-drive Series 1 Land Rover, introduced in 1948, was intended for agricultural use, dogs and all.
And the Range Rover, which ushered in the mainstream 4×4 craze in the early 1970s, was firmly associated with Britain’s “riding-shooting-fishing” set, to whom hounds are an integral part of an at least semi-rural lifestyle.
Today, the Discovery is at the (relatively) affordable end of Land Rover’s lineup of pooch-pampering models. Starting at $56,600, it’s far from cheap, but it endears itself to dog lovers with available accessories including a folding pet access ramp, full-height luggage partition, spill-resistant water bowl, and a quilted, washable cargo liner that extends over the rear bumper to avoid claw scratches.
But most unusual is the Land Rover Portable Rinse System: a simple, hand-pumped mini-shower that delivers up to 2 minutes of continuous flow — enough for even the largest and dirtiest of dogs!
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Choosing a pooch-appropriate adventure ride comes down to checking off some base requirements, and then tailoring options and accessories to your specific dog’s size, energy level, and temperament. But there really is a vehicle out there to suit any and all dogs, while still being ready for the mountains, desert, or beach.
Use OutdoorFox to inform yourself, get all the tips on hiking and camping. Browse through our recommendations and product reviews and start planning your adventure today!
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