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.
Everyone has different priorities when it comes to choosing a new car and it can be an experience to be savoured. But while we all enjoy bouncing from one dealership to the next and drooling over new gadgets, fabric samples and trim swatches, it’s wise to give the needs of every one of your passengers paws for thought.
Children often get the highest prioirity when selecting a family beast of burden, but what about those with twice the leg count? It’s all too easy to prioritise the needs of those who throw the stick, rather than chasing it. Put simply, if your car isn’t right for your canine companion, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
If the wet nose and waggly tail of one of your family members is more an endearing characteristic than a parental concern, you’ll want to make sure your car suits their needs too. And it’s not necessarily just a case of choosing a car with a big boot. Some undoubtedly cater for canines far better than others.
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.
When choosing a car for carrying dogs, outright load capacity isn’t necessarily the only thing that’s important. While the 308 SW precisely matches the Superb’s 660 litres of luggage space, it does so with a shorter, taller boot than the Czech machine, so some breeds may prefer standing tall over laying flat.
Compared to the Skoda, it’s a bit more compromised for human occupants, though, with less space in the rear seats. Fido will be fine, however, and will no doubt appreciate the Peugeot’s low boot floor and loading lip. Meanwhile, low running costs will free up funds that can be spent on doggie treats.
With sleek styling and 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.
The SEAT Leon ST is an estate car with looks that even the fussiest of pedigree pooches won’t turn its nose up at. In truth, its boot space is better suited to smaller breeds, but the 580 litres of space it has are well designed, with an adjustable floor that gives dogs an easy route in with no awkward step.
Being a product of the Volkswagen Group, the Leon is assembled well and its materials – although not as lavish as those in a Golf – are robust and should stand up well to the ravages of Rottweilers. Fuel economy is impressive and performance isn’t lacking, either. And what’s more, the Leon ST takes corners well enough that you’d swear it went to the same agility lessons as your dog.
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.
The Kia Optima Sportswagon is a very appealing all-round package. Although Kia hasn't long competed in the medium car class, the Optima made quite a splash with its sharp looks and impressive quality and is easily a match for the Ford Mondeo Estate and Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer on standard equipment. A 1.7-litre diesel engine is fitted (there's no petrol option, apart from the more expensive Optima PHEV plug-in hybrid) and 67.3mpg is claimed possible.
When it comes to satisfying the demands of man's best friend, the Sportswagon will probably be a little cramped for a Great Dane, but dinkier dogs will find the wide, square, 552-litre loadspace comfortable, while the interior boasts plenty of storage compartments for toys and dog treats.
Since its full-scale assault on the UK car market commenced a few years ago, Dacia has made its name with cars that offer a huge amount of metal for the money. For a surprisingly low on-the-road cost, the Logan MCV matches the load-carrying capability of far more expensive cars and you’re sure to find its 573 litres of boot space more than ample for dog duties.
You can buy a well equipped, diesel-engined Laureate version for less than £12,000, but the dirt-cheap Access model is particularly appealing for its sheer simplicity. It costs just £6,995 and, although it has very limited standard equipment, it’s also extremely robust and doesn’t have any unnecessary decorative garnish to get ruined by energetic doggy outbursts.