Americans love their pets, and dogs have long been a popular choice. According to information published by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are 70 to 80 million dogs serving as animal companions in the United States, and it’s estimated that tail-waggers are present in 37 to 47 percent of all households in this country.
All those panting canines occasionally require transportation, and that’s where pet-friendly vehicles come in.
A used car is an excellent choice for dog owners. Vehicles depreciate by as much as 19 percent after just one year of ownership, so a newer used car represents an excellent bargain. There are some wonderful picks available, and the money you’ve saved by purchasing on the used market can be funneled back to the care of your dog. After all, pet food isn’t cheap.
What to Look for in a Pet-Friendly Used Car
Certain vehicles are tailor-made to serve as chariots for your beloved animal confidantes. The choices best suited for dogs are easy to clean, which means you won’t have to spend forever trying to banish fur from your vehicle after a day spent on the road with Barkley in tow.
A pooch has got to eat, and you can save by buying doggie vittles and treats in bulk. Pet owners will benefit from having vehicles with cargo capacity that’s generous enough to accommodate replenishing visits to the pet store.
Fold-flat seats are useful because they provide a flat space for larger pet crates. Also, if a vehicle has fold-flat seats, you can install a barrier to separate your pet from the cockpit and create a spacious den for your canine. The barrier is important, as it prevents your pet from becoming a dangerous projectile in the event of an accident.
A low floor and large door openings are useful, since they facilitate easy ingress and egress for your dog. This is especially valuable for canines that are older or less mobile.
Some of the healthiest pet food options for your dog – namely, those made with fresh meats and vegetables – need to be stored in the refrigerator, and a chilled storage compartment provides a useful place to stash these treats on short or long trips.
A sunroof can let sunshine and fresh air in and make the cabin more comfortable for your canine.
Finally, the second row sometimes gets short shrift when it comes to air conditioning. Choose a vehicle with rear vents or rear climate control to ensure comfortable temperatures for Winnie the Poodle when she’s seated in back.
These three vehicles offer amenities you need to easily transport your favorite tail-wagging amigo.
1. 2010-2011 Honda Element
The Honda Element is a compact crossover with seating for four that was produced from 2003 to 2011. Models made in 2010 and 2011 are available with a Dog Friendly package offering a cargo-bay-mounted cooling fan, rear seat covers, heavy-duty floor mats and an enclosed kennel with a built-in, spill-proof water bowl. This package also features a collapsible ramp that makes it easy for pets to board and disembark.
Aside from this package, the Element offers lots of features that are useful for dog owners. It comes with an easy-to-clean urethane floor and moisture-resistant seats. Cargo capacity is a whopping 75 cubic feet with the rear seats displaced, and the Element is available with a removable cooler to keep your pet’s chow nicely chilled. The Element’s low floor and wide door openings foster hassle-free access for your pet.
These models are powered by an engine good for 166 horsepower and 161 pound-feet of torque. The Element is offered with either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is available.
2. 2014-2015 Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is a minivan that seats up to eight passengers. It was updated in 2014, and its list of upgrades includes a built-in vacuum cleaner. If you’ve ever struggled to rid your car’s back seat of clumps of dog hair shed by your canine compadre, you will understand the value a built-in vacuum provides.
This roomy minivan offers several other features that make it especially useful for those with large dogs. The versatile interior features a second-row seat offering multiple configurations, and sections may be removed to create a center aisle for your pet. Third-row seats fold flat into the floor, and there’s 93.1 cubic feet available behind the second row. The Odyssey is offered with a conversation mirror that allows you to keep an eye on your dog, and wide sliding doors and a low floor facilitate hassle-free access for your pets. Tri-zone climate control is offered to ensure a comfortable environment for your pooch, and this Honda’s available chilled storage box allows you to keep Ozzy Pawsbourne’s meals nice and cool when you’re on the road. An available sunroof makes the roomy cabin feel even more spacious.
Under the hood is a V6 offering 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, and it’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
2009-2015 Ford Flex
The Ford Flex is a crossover wagon launched in 2009, and it offers seating for up to seven passengers. This roomy Ford is no slouch when it comes to pet-friendly amenities. Its low ride height and available power liftgate make loading your dog into the Flex a breeze, and adjustable air conditioning vents are provided in the second and third rows to maintain pleasant temperatures for your pooch.
Folding the second- and third-row seats opens up 83 cubic feet of capacity for your canine to enjoy, and the Flex’s center console can be upgraded to include a refrigerated storage compartment. A multipanel rear sunroof is available to add airiness to the cabin.
The Flex is powered by a naturally aspirated V6 good for 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. There’s also an available turbocharged V6 that delivers 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is available.
The Ford Flex, Honda Element, and Honda Odyssey all offer features your canine will love.
These used models also provide strong value and will be easy on your pocketbook.