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7 Great Cars for Dog Lovers

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author photo by Jessica Shea Choksey August 2017

For many, driving around town or taking a road trip with your dog is a regular and enjoyable experience. But no matter how far or near the distance traveled, you want a vehicle that keeps your "best friend" safe and comfortable throughout the journey. Here are some features and characteristics that make the best cars for dog lovers:

An airy cabin gives larger dogs a sense of space and roominess.

A containment barrier prevents your dog from leaping around the car while it's in motion.

Fold-flat seats allow your dog to stretch out and lie down comfortably.

A low ride height makes it easier for older dogs with bad hips to climb in and out of the vehicle.

A panoramic sunroof gives your dog a healthy dose of sunlight and fresh air.

Rear cargo-attachment tie-downs hold carriers in place, which is especially important during braking events.

Rear climate control keeps your dog cool and regulated.

A rear lift gate makes loading and unloading carriers, crates and kennels an easier proposition.

Under-floor storage allows you to put things away to clear out a safe, uncluttered area for your dog.

One final thing you might want to consider is a vehicle that's been around for a number of years -- think Ford Explorer, Buick Enclave or Toyota Highlander. Cars that have been available for a long time are likely to have lots of aftermarket parts or pieces that can help you safely transport your puppy. For this list, we focused on cars where the maker of the car offers pet-friendly solutions, but aftermarket products can be good in a pinch.

There are many choices out there that would accommodate your family mascot, but we picked 7 cars for dog lovers we thought stood out among the rest. And here they are...

2017 BMW X5

2017 BMW X5

The BMW X5 is a high watermark in luxury SUVs. Both you and your dog will find it to be an enjoyable ride for both short- and long-distance driving. The high roof and heated rear seats will give your dog plenty of headroom and lots of warmth on cold winter days. The rear cargo area is especially large, and if you fold down the back seats, there's enough room here for more than one oversize dog. In addition, you can get a genuine BMW rear-seat cover to protect your leather. The 2017 BMW X5 has a starting price of $56,600, but this vehicle has been around long enough that you should be able to find a more affordable CPO version if you don't want to buy a brand-new car.

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2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

The 2-row Chevrolet Equinox is a popular contender in the compact crossover segment for many reasons. It offers a nice, smooth ride, perfect for long road trips with your dog, but is also an excellent around-town vehicle. The passenger compartment is quiet and spacious, with a number of mindful features like an adjustable back seat. The fold-flat rear cargo area makes it so dogs can lounge in the shade when parked, and there's an available denimlike material for the seats that makes them easier to clean, whether the issue be stains or pet hair. The newly redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Equinox has a starting price of $23,580.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler brought back the Pacifica name last year, but now it's a minivan with aggressive styling and a slew of modern amenities. The 7- or 8-passenger transport offers lots of space, as well as a comfortable, tech-savvy interior. And your dog will enjoy the Pacifica's smooth and quiet ride, even at highway speeds. Your dog will also stay temperature-regulated thanks to a well-engineered tri-zone climate control system that keeps the back of the van nice and cool. The large lift gate allows easy access to the rear compartment, and you can even get a MoPar kennel/carrier for the rear seat. The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica has a base starting price of $28,995.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica

2017 Honda Fit

It may be a subcompact, but as one of the most versatile and well-built small cars on the road today, the Honda Fit is surprisingly spacious and well-packaged, thanks in large part to a unique rear-seat design. Dogs of virtually any size will find room to stretch out. And the Fit is proof positive that pet owners don't have to spend a lot to get a pet-friendly car, along with accessories like a rear-seat cover or a cargo liner. The 2017 Honda Fit has a starting price of $16,090, but keep in mind this car has been around long enough that you should be able to get a CPO version if you're looking to avoid buying a new car to save some money.

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2017 Nissan Rogue

2017 Nissan Rogue

The Rogue may look smaller than its rivals, but it enjoys almost 40 cu ft. of space behind the back row, and 70 cu ft. when all the seats are folded flat. That's plenty of room for even a large dog. Offering good fuel economy and a premium, well-crafted interior, the Rogue is a strong choice in the small crossover segment -- for humans and dogs alike. Earlier this year, Nissan unveiled the Rogue Dogue concept car, specializing in canine luxury and featuring a custom dog bed and a slide-away ramp for easy entry and exit. The 2017 Nissan Rogue has a starting price $23,820, but keep in mind the Rogue has been around long enough that you should be able to get a well-priced CPO version if you don't want to buy a brand-new car.

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2018 Subaru Crosstrek

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

The all-new Crosstrek is bound to be a car driven by a very high percentage of dog owners. Plus, the Subaru Crosstrek has one of the coolest-sounding names out there. Nomenclature aside, this is the crossover you want if you're looking for comfort, safety and trail-readiness. The rugged Crosstrek features standard all-wheel drive, a high ground clearance and body cladding, perfect for the weekend wilderness warrior and his or her trusty four-legged companion. Subaru offers a wide array of official pet accessories and merchandise -- beds, bowls, carriers, door shields, harnesses and seatbelts, ramps and steps, seat covers, barriers and cargo liners -- to turn your Crosstrek into the ultimate dog-friendly mobile. Those accessories aren't just good for the Crosstrek, but for virtually every Subaru. The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek has a starting price of $22,195.

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2018 Volvo XC60

2018 Volvo XC60

If safety for your dog is your number one concern, the Volvo XC60 is the SUV you're looking for. As little brother to the XC90 (the original armored kennel on wheels), the XC60 combines crashworthy construction with the latest in accident-avoidance technologies. Add to that available all-wheel drive to keep your vehicle surefooted and stable through snow and rain. When it comes to pet comfort, the rear climate controls keep your best friend cozy and relaxed. Additionally, the XC60 has built-in rear tie-downs that are perfect for harnessing a pet carrier. In terms of accessories, Volvo offers a handy dog gate to create a dedicated space for your furry companion to hang out in. The newly redesigned Volvo XC60 has a starting price of about $42,000.

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Check out our favorite Pet-Friendly Accessories for Your Car or Truck.

Read more paw-some articles about dogs and cars.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
7 Great Cars for Dog Lovers - Autotrader