Buying Guides

6 Best SUVs for Dog Owners

These vehicles are made for your 4-legged copilots

Jane Ulitskaya, Digital Content Specialist

Whether they come in X-Large, miniature, or somewhere in-between, our dogs aren't just companions, but members of the family. Sure, most car shoppers choose a vehicle to fit their kids or their gear, but we think prioritizing our 4-legged friends is just as important. Whether you hit the trails on the weekends or bring your dogs on your cross-country road trips, these 6 SUVs will accommodate all your needs. They offer benefits like spacious cargo areas, low floors, smooth and quiet rides, and the ability to take on rugged terrain. Choose the best one for traveling with your large dog, small dog, multiple dogs, and/or dog crates.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

Best

for Multi-dog families

  • PROS: Loads of space for larger dogs, top safety scores, composed ride and quiet cabin even at high speeds
  • CONS: Drab interior, gas mileage isn't superb

We believe the more dogs, the merrier, and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas is ideal for multi-dog families. The interior space of this 3-row SUV is hard to top with a spacious 56 cubic-feet behind the 2nd row and a cavernous 96 cubic feet with all seats folded flat. This means Fido and Buster will each have their personal space in the back, even with passengers in the second row. Despite its size, the Atlas drives smaller than it is with a smooth ride and precise steering. The 3.6-liter V6 produces 276-horsepower and brings the Atlas up to speed quickly. The cabin stays quiet without any rattles or squeaks even at highway speeds which is great news for nervous pups.

2021 Honda Passport

 
  • PROS: Ready for mild off-roading adventures, rugged styling, capacious interior, powerful V6 engine
  • CONS: Finicky infotainment, base model not well-equipped

The Honda Passport is based on the Honda Pilot which is a minivan-alternative designed for shuttling kids around. The Passport attracts a different demographic with a more rugged exterior, adventure-ready features, and the absence of a third row. It does retain the easy-to-drive nature and smooth ride of the Pilot, making it the perfect choice for pet parents. Midsize and large dogs will fit comfortably in the spacious cargo area that measures 41 cubic feet behind the rear seat, and 78 cubic feet with the second row folded. The Passport's 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine is potent for highway driving to your adventure destination, and torque-vectoring AWD is available (and advised) for dog owners planning to hit the trails.

2021 Subaru Ascent

Best

for big dogs

  • PROS: Standard AWD, excellent steering, ample cargo space for large dogs
  • CONS: Exterior styling is too conservative, jumpy off the line, tight headroom in the third row

When you have a large beast on your hands, you don't want him to be crammed into a tight cargo area or rear seat, especially on a long drive. As the largest SUV in the Subaru lineup, the 2021 Ascent will fit your supersized companion comfortably as you head out to explore the great outdoors. When all 3 rows of seats are up, there is 17.8 cubic feet available, but if you leave the human passengers at home and fold down the second and third rows, you'll open up a massive 86.5 cubic feet of space for your furry friend to enjoy. The Ascent is surprisingly nimble for a midsize SUV. Its 260-horsepower 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine is eager and responsive, even when the vehicle is packed full of dogs and adventure gear.

2021 Kia Soul

 
  • PROS: Low floor for easy loading, boxy shape is ideal for dog crates, large cargo area, affordable
  • CONS: Lackluster interior quality, no AWD

We're big fans of Kia's small SUV, and we think your dog will be too. Not only is the Kia Soul's boxy shape perfect for fitting a dog crate, but the cargo area is spacious, and the interior is easy to clean. Dog owners will find 24.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 62.1 cubic feet with the back row folded down. The 2021 Soul is as comfortable for the driver as it is for his copilot. Its small size makes maneuvering easy, and the ride is mostly smooth. The base engine is a competent 2.0-liter 4-cylinder offering up 147 horsepower. For stronger acceleration, the top-tier 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower is the way to go.

2021 Jeep Wrangler

Best

for Adventuring with dogs

  • PROS: Unmatched off-road capability, improved on-road performance, spacious rear seats
  • CONS: Cabin can get noisy, not as fuel efficient as competitors

Dog owners who hike, camp, and explore with their best friends will be able to find more epic adventure destinations thanks to the 2021 Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler is king when it comes to off-road trails, and it has recently been transformed into a capable and comfortable vehicle to drive on pavement as well. The 4-door Wrangler Unlimited provides more dog-friendly space than the 2-door model with 31.7 cubic feet behind the second row and 72.4 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. The Wrangler also has the benefit of open-air freedom with removable doors, top, and windshield (for well-behaved dogs only). The Wrangler Unlimited's base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with 285 horsepower which offers confident acceleration and complements the improved ride quality, steering, and handling for road trips.

2021 Volvo V60

 
  • PROS: Impressive styling inside and out, standard AWD, comfortable ride, excellent safety scores
  • CONS: Engine can sound unrefined, infotainment lag, price creeps up when options are added

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is a blend of station wagon and SUV with a higher ride height than the standard V60. This versatile vehicle proves an SUV can be both luxurious and dog-friendly. The Volvo V60 CC marries premium features like high-end interior materials with practical benefits like a spacious cargo area with a lower load height than most compact SUVs. After they make the easy leap inside, traveling dogs get 23.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 50.9 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. The V60 CC's sole engine is a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that moves the SUV swiftly with minimal turbo lag. Thanks to a softened suspension, the V60 CC stays composed on uneven pavement and gravel roads which you're sure to encounter on the way to your favorite hiking spot.

What Makes a Dog-Friendly SUV?

  • Spacious cargo area that fits dogs and dog crates.
  • Trail-ready for adventures.
  • Low floor to make it easy for small or older dogs to hop in.

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