Best cars for dog owners
Are you a dog owner wondering which are the best cars on the market for transporting your beloved pet? Our top ten showcases the best options.
Though the needs of children usually get top priority when we’re choosing a family car, there are other members of the household that should also be considered. The best cars for dogs make life with our four-legged friends less taxing. Whether you’re adventuring to the best dog walking spot or braving the annual trip to the dreaded V-word, a car chosen with your dog in mind will make every trip that little bit more enjoyable.
When it comes to our more waggly-tailed passengers, it’s not necessarily just a case of choosing a car with a big boot. Although there are an abundance of estates and SUVs that may appeal due to the space they have in the rear, some models undoubtedly cater for canines far better than others because of their intrinsic design.
Beyond size, you’ll want a boot that’s lined with sturdy materials, so that it won’t look like a dog’s dinner after every journey. It needs to be accessible enough to allow easy access – a senior Samoyed will likely be less mobile than an adolescent Alsatian. And, of course, it should be easy to clean after Mastiff mishaps.
Read on for our round-up of the top 10 best cars for dogs and their owners.
The Nissan X-Trail has always been a spacious, comfortable and easy-to-recommend SUV, and while its high ride height would usually make it hard to endorse for owners of less agile dogs, Nissan has an option that should be perfect for almost any age and size of canine. Called the Paw Pack, this £600 bundle includes a ramp to help smaller and less mobile dogs into the boot, and once installed they’ll be greeted by a boot liner, a hanging storage rack for leads and other gubbins, a spill-resistant water bowl and a dog bed.
Such luxury should keep most dogs more than content, but those seeking further adventure will be stymied in their quest by the dog guard, which separates the boot from the rest of the car. Nissan offers the X-Trail with a manual or CVT automatic gearbox, front or four-wheel drive and the choice of a 1.6-litre petrol or diesel or a 2.0-litre diesel. Whichever setup you choose, our advice is to stick with the manual gearbox.
Where it comes to sheer space for pedigree pooches, the Discovery Sport gets off to a good start with a claimed boot volume of 981 litres. Don't be deceived, though – Land Rover measures load capacity right up to the roof, and the Discovery Sport actually has little more space on the boot floor than its Nissan X-Trail rival. However, the famous SUV brand has demonstrated that it has our four-legged friends in mind by offering a range of Pet Packs as optional extras.
They range in price and content, but offer such helpful features as an access ramp that can take dogs of up to 85kg, and even a shower whose 6.5-litre water capacity is enough for a five minutes of flow – ideal for cleaning mucky dogs or even bikes before they go in the boot. Sealing the deal is the fact that the Discovery Sport is one of the more enjoyable SUVs to drive, so both the driver and their furry friend will enjoy making journeys.
We could have actually chosen several cars from the Skoda range, but it’s the Superb that we reckon will treat your terrier the best. The Skoda Superb places its emphasis very much on comfort and is a fantastic motorway cruiser. It so happens to have an enormous boot, too. It can hold a huge 660 litres of cargo and is long and flat, with a low loading sill that pets will easily leap onto.
Once on board, they’re likely to find themselves very comfortable. The Superb is a terrifically relaxing car to travel in, so every occupant will arrive at their destination fresh and alert, no matter what their species.
The Mercedes E-Class Estate has long been a favourite among dog lovers with an eye for quality. Like the Skoda Superb, its main aim is to provide occupants with comfort, but the Mercedes offers luxurious finishes and materials, as well as cutting-edge technology. It’s a car that specialises in effortlessly shrugging off the longest of journeys.
What’s more, it can carry huge loads at the same time. Most models have 670 litres of boot space – enough for most dogs to lie down safely and sleep contentedly while the car glides along the motorway. In E200d and E220d diesel forms, it’s a very economical car, too, while providing all the power any driver could reasonably need.
Peugeot has been on a bit of a winning streak lately when it comes to design, and the 5008 is one of the cars that gets these striking good looks. It’s not just a pretty face, though, drop the rear row of seats in the Peugeot 5008 and you will have a whopping 780-litres of boot space at your disposal, plenty for even the largest of breeds. The 5008 is a rather cost-friendly SUV, too. If you opt for the turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel engine, you can enjoy an easily achievable fuel economy of well over 40mpg.
The optional panoramic sunroof does eat into headroom, so it may be worth sacrificing its extra natural light for comfort if you have a particularly large dog or are carrying adults in the back seats.
With sleek styling and a reputation for quality, the Volkswagen Passat Estate has a really classy air to it. It’s a cut above its Ford Mondeo and Mazda6 rivals and, at 650 litres, its boot is more accommodating than either of those. Its biggest virtue by far, though, is build quality; you’ll find exemplary finishes everywhere you look.
The dashboard is well laid-out and beautifully built and the fabrics and materials used inside are pleasing to the touch and feel like they’ll last forever. This extends to the boot area, where plastics that are quickly chewed beyond recognition in lesser cars may instead be met by admiration from your dog, who’ll respectfully leave them alone.
Being a hatchback-based estate, the Leon is smaller than the Volkswagen Passat, but this car is still a great dog-carrier. Efficiency is one of the most attractive things about the Leon, the 1.5-litre engine should return over 50mpg.
With the Leon being based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf, the driving experience is actually rather enjoyable but the ride is still smooth enough to allow for uninterrupted post-walkies naps.
In the back, where your four legged friend will be spending their time, is a 620-litre boot. The lower stature of this smaller estate should make it easier to jump into, and roomy enough to stretch out in comfort. Space for humans in the front is plentiful, too.
Compared to the Peugeot 308 SW, the Astra Sports Tourer has a rather less commodious boot, at 540 litres compared to 660. It's probably better suited for carrying a spaniel than a St Bernard, but the boot floor is low and flat, with a low load lip that should make it easy for even the most languid of pooches to clamber in and out. The Astra Sports Tourer earns its middle name by serving up a rather enjoyable driving experience, too – it's a near-match for the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon ST in this regard, although it can't match the Volkswagen Golf Estate for ride smoothness.
Also in favour of the Sports Tourer is that it's quite attractively priced and dealers have frequent special offers and finance incentives available. There's a 1.6-litre twin-turbocharged diesel that offers a great combination of economy and performance, with 67mpg possible, but low-mileage drivers will probably be happy with the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – 65mpg is still possible, and it's far happier to make frequent short journeys.
Though it may not stand out as much as some rivals, the Kia Ceed is a solid car. The Sportswagon takes the build quality, 7-year warranty, and overall value for money from the standard hatchback and adds a significant amount of extra space - a winning combination.
The 625-litre boot should prove plenty but the Ceed also features boot underfloor storage - perfect for hiding any treats away. A plug-in hybrid is available but the onboard batteries intrude into this boot space, causing it to drop to just 437 litres. Be sure to choose carefully depending on the size of your four-legged friend.
The Citroen Berlingo was one of the very first MPVs to be based on a small van, and it has come a long way since its introduction in 1996. It is still a van-based car, so, naturally, space in the rear is plentiful. The standard ‘M’ spec car has an enormous 775-litre boot, and access is incredibly easy thanks to a huge tailgate and sliding rear doors. If that still isn’t enough, the ‘XL' version increases boot space to a cavernous 1,050 litres and adds 2 removable extra seats - perfect for everyone both four-legged and two.
Just because this car is based on a van it does not mean that you have to make sacrifices in terms of luxuries. An 8-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes as standard, as well as a surprisingly pleasant interior with soft materials and even Citroen’s ‘ambiance’ colour-scheme options. There are a number of engines available depending on which spec you opt for, but the diesels tend to cope better when the car is fully loaded.