If you happily own a dog, chances are that dog lives a privileged and fulfilling life. It’s for good reason. Dogs are man’s best friend. They’re four-legged family members! They provide mostly happiness, sometimes frustration and usually a set of ears that won’t pass judgment about your ideas when no one else is around to listen. Dogs are awesome, and they make our lives that much more awesome. So, in order to keep that furry friend safe and comfortable, here are some transportation picks narrowed down to whatever type of dog lover you are, or want to be.
The quintessential big-breed haulers—your Great Danes, Bull Mastiffs, Great Pyrenees—the Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban are goliaths of epic proportions. Big and boxy, these two offer massive amounts of cargo space and still leave room for those pesky two-legged humans to join. The Tahoe comes in at a respectable 108.9 cu.ft. and the ‘Burban with a monstrous 137.4 cu.ft. The rear seats are a bit cumbersome and have to be removed—and stored elsewhere—in order for the cargo space to become usable. If you have a big dog and a smaller family, chances are this doesn’t pose a problem.
The 2007-2014 models were in their 11th generation, and the Tahoe and Suburban offer smooth 6-speed automatics, rear and all-wheel-drive options, and a powerful V8 engine. Fuel costs will add up, however, but the benefit of having a big-bodied and capable SUV is worth it when you’re hauling beasts around.
Believe it or not, but the Honda Element compact sport utility vehicle won the “Dog Car of the Year” award in 2007, the first year it was offered. (Yes, it’s a real thing). It was even offered with a “Dog Friendly” option-heavy package in 2009 complete with an elevated pet bed, restraint systems, a load-in ramp and a host of other dog, err, human treats.
The reasoning is pretty simple as the Element is an eccentric and seriously useable vehicle for a great price: A fuel-efficient 4-cylinder motor, 74,6 cu.ft. of cargo space, a low load height with available AWD means that wherever you go, you can take your best friend along, too. Comfort and quirky styling are an added bonus.
Any car company who spends money on a major ad campaign revolving around dogs is good in our book. Subaru is dog friendly no doubt, and the Forester (we’re particularly fond of the second generation, 2003-2008 models) offers utility in spades for canine companions. While not the most luxurious cabin, it’s utilitarian with easy-to-use controls and a large cargo area.
Legendary Subaru full-time AWD on all models means year round accessibility and confidence, while excellent crash-test ratings mean safety is on your side. We love wagons because they are the unsung heroes of American roads and the Forester blurs the line between bigger, traditional SUVs, all the while offering more confidence in the corners, which equates to more fun getting to your next adventure spot.
If your dog is a beach bum or a water rat, the Jeep Wrangler is the perfect land yacht. Being able to remove all four doors is one of the automotive world’s greatest treasures; just make sure you and your furry friend are secured safely. Not only can dogs stick their heads out the window, but they can literally feel the breeze and mist in a 360-degree panoramic cockpit.
With the Wrangler’s unlimited range of aftermarket parts, the possibilities are endless when it comes to outfitting your rig with dog-friendly options like waterproof seat covers, dog hammocks, partitions, different tops (both soft and hard) and so much more.
Minivans might not be the sexiest choice, but they sure are filled with usefulness. The Odyssey in particular is always among the best rated minivans, but also one filled with innovative new features. The 2014 Odysseys and newer model years have something called HondaVac—a built in vacuum system co-developed by Shop-Vac that’s perfect for those inevitable messy mutt situations.
The fourth-generation Odysseys also come with push button open and close rear sliding doors; something that can make your life a whole lot easier when hands are full and dogs are tireless. Minivans are relentlessly smart in that they offer seat configurations aplenty and interior combinations to where you can perfect your setup based on you and your dog’s needs.
If you and your dog like being pampered, the Infiniti QX56/80 are rock solid choices for pooches that need posh posterior protection. A big, hulking beast, the QX has tons of cargo space with power lift gate and power folding rear seats so the most lifting you’ll have to worry about will be packing those bags of Blue Buffalo in the back. And speaking of packing, the Infiniti has a host of pockets, bins and compartments to hide treats, toys and whatever else you spoil your dog with.
We do recommend the smaller wheel and tire combination if available on the QX of your choice, as testers have noted that the bigger 22-inch wheels could make the ride bumpy and jarring. #firstworlddogproblems.
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.