A standout driver profile, positive reviews from previous customers and excellent communication skills are the three biggest keys to winning shipments on CitizenShipper. However, the status of your vehicle also plays a role in placing winning bids.
The best driver profiles include photos of their clean vehicle; it gives pet owners peace of mind when they can see exactly where their beloved pet will be throughout the journey.
Are you ready to upgrade your ride, but not sure how to research new cars for transporting dogs? If that’s where you find yourself, there are many factors to consider when you’re in the market for a new car.
To help save you time on research we’ve gathered the 10 best cars for transporting dogs.
Features To Look For in a Dog Transporting Vehicle
If you’re going to use the car for personal use and professional shipping jobs, keep your own needs in mind. You’re going to be using this car every day, so you’ll need to balance professional utility with personal comfort and practicality.
If you want to purchase a car exclusively for pet transportation, your choice depends on whether you’re dedicated to shipping large or small breeds, if you plan to make long-distance hauls or mostly local pet shipments, and if you want to transport motorcycles or bulk items in addition to pets.
Jump-in Height/Ride Height
Ride height is an important factor if you’re bidding on a shipment for an older dog that’s a large breed. Good luck getting an eight-year-old husky that weighs 60 pounds into the cargo hold of a Land Rover. He’s too old to make that kind of leap into the SUV and we both know you’re not picking that dog up and lifting him into his crate.
The flip side is that vehicles with a high ride height tend to have the most storage capacity. If you decide to go with a large SUV or truck, you’ll be able to ship more pets at one time. The major caveat is that you may have to sacrifice making bids on shipments for large older dogs who simply can’t get into your high-riding vehicle.
Back Seat or Cargo Space
The more space for dogs in your car, the more you can stack shipments and increase your revenue. Plus, if you have a larger car you won’t need to shy away from bidding on shipments for large breeds (unless, as we said before, they’re too old to jump into your vehicle).
There are some models that have a surprising amount of storage space, so read up on how to measure cargo space. Some crossovers and station wagons have fold-down seats that significantly increase the storage capacity of the vehicle. If you’re going to use the vehicle for occasional personal use, keep an eye out for vehicles with the versatility to switch from seating to storage space.
A third major consideration is the vehicle’s gas mileage. Find a balance between a vehicle that’s large enough to transport multiple pets and larger breeds with the need for it to be as economical as possible. After all, gas prices are factored into your bid amounts — the more efficient the car, the lower your bids can be.
You’re mostly going to be transporting pets in their crates, so you don’t need to be overly concerned with the interior material, but it’s still something to consider. There may be times you want to let the dog out of its crate, and we all know accidents can happen. Look for vehicle interiors that are made from easy-to-clean, durable material that claws won’t damage.
Though it comes at a higher price-point, a leather interior is the way to go for pet transporters. Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s less likely to be damaged by dogs scratching across the back seat.
- It’s non-porous, so it’s easy to clean in the case of a potty accident.
- Another benefit of its non-porous nature is it won’t get smelly over the years and repeated accidents.
- If you’re transporting a dog that sheds a lot, it’s easier to clean because the hairs won’t get woven into the material — which occurs with cloth interiors.
These days most new cars have a robust climate control system, but as with everything, some models are superior to others. Many cars have connected car apps that allow you to remotely adjust the temperature of the vehicle’s interior or unlock the doors if you’re unable to retrieve the dog from the car.
Of course, most pet transporters make a promise to either never leave the dog alone in the car or only do so for very quick trips. But pet transporters have to use the bathroom too! Groups like PETA and the RSPCA say that while these remote climate control features are a nice idea, they’re not completely foolproof and leaving pets in a car should be avoided.
10. Best Tech: 2022 Tesla Model Y
Starts at $53,940
The biggest appeal of a Tesla is its combination of excellent gas mileage and state-of-the-art technological innovations. The company caught a lot of attention when it rolled out the Dog Mode feature on vehicles like the Model Y.
What is dog mode, and how does it work? Under the Keep Climate On the settings menu, you’ll select “Dog.” This keeps the climate control on even after you’ve exited the vehicle and displays a message that reads: “My owner will be back soon — don’t worry! The heater/air conditioning is on and it’s XX degrees.” If the battery gets below 20 percent, you’ll be alerted with a notification via the Tesla app.
Dog Mode is offered in addition to the existing Cabin Overheat Protection. This feature keeps babies and pets safe by automatically turning on when temperatures are high.
The Model Y is a compact crossover with an electric motor and loads of storage space. It tows up to 3,500 pounds — comparable to most SUVs of a similar size and far superior to most electric cars — so you can maximize earnings by towing motorcycles or other cargo in a small trailer while you transport pets inside the vehicle.
Introducing Dog Mode: set a cabin temperature to keep your dog comfortable while letting passersby know they don’t need to worry pic.twitter.com/xFU6MGZT53
— Tesla (@Tesla) February 14, 2019
- The vegan leather seating is very durable.
- Dog Mode allows for remote temperature control and displays a message to passersby alerting them that the dog is safe.
- It has great gas mileage (up to 127 miles per gallon in city driving and 117 in highway driving) so you’ll save money on longer transport jobs.
- Teslas come at a very high price point.
- The center-mounted instrument panel can be confusing for drivers new to Tesla.
- Despite having many tech innovations, it’s not compatible with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Runner Up: 2022 Tesla Model 3
Tesla’s smaller four-door sedan has all of the same tech and automotive features of the Model Y — in fact, it shares about 75% of its parts with its larger sibling. The biggest downside is the Model 3’s storage space is much smaller (68 cubic feet versus 15 cubic feet) so you’ll have to place limits on the size of pets you can transport. On the other hand, the Model 3 is much more affordable, starting at $38,990, and gets slightly better gas mileage because it weighs less than the Model Y.
9. Best Four-Wheel Drive: 2022 Jeep Wrangler
Starts at $29,725
It’s no surprise that the best four-wheel drive vehicle for pet transportation is the Jeep Wrangler. Of course, you’re probably not shipping any pets off-road, but if you like to hit rough terrain between pet shipments, this is the best bet. It has the legendary Jeep ruggedness with a soft enough interior to keep dogs comfortable during the trip.
There are of course some trade-offs when it comes to Jeep’s flagship vehicle. The ride isn’t refined and is noisy, the gas mileage leaves something to be desired and the interior feels pretty cramped.
- The Wrangler is phenomenal off-road.
- You can fold down rear seats to increase the size of the cargo area.
- With weather-resistant removable carpet and one-way floor drain valves, the Jeep’s interior is specifically designed for easy clean-up.
- It has an extremely noisy ride.
- The car handles poorly on the pavement.
- The interior feels very cramped.
Runner Up: 2022 Ford Bronco
For years the Wrangler ruled the roost when it came to off-road SUVs. That’s changed a bit with Ford reintroducing the Bronco to its lineup with great fanfare. Because the vehicles grade out fairly close, we gave the Wrangler the nudge for being more affordable and boasting ever-so-slightly better fuel economy.
8. Best On a Budget: 2022 Kia Rio 5-Door Hatchback
Starts at $17,190
Most people can’t afford the $700 monthly car payment for a Tesla. Luckily there are many great vehicles for pet transporters on a budget. The best of the budget cars for transporting dogs is the five-door hatchback model of the Kia Rio. It’s hard to find many faults with this compact car, despite its rock-bottom price tag.
- The interior of the Rio blocks out road-noise, making for a quiet ride.
- Smartphone app integration comes standard with all Rio models.
- The Rio is very fuel-efficient, boasting 33 mpg when city driving and 41 mpg on the highway.
- It has a very small passenger area which can feel cramped, especially during long drives.
- The cargo space is a bit smaller than expected at 32 cubic feet.
- The Rio offers a relatively weak driving performance.
Runner Up: 2022 Hyundai Venue
Hyundai has made significant gains in the auto market over the last couple of decades and has a pleasantly eclectic lineup of vehicles. The automaker’s compact SUV, the Venue, starts at $19,000. With both vehicles being evenly matched, the Rio’s slightly lower price tag put it over the top.
7. Best Compact SUV: 2022 Honda CR-V
Starts at $26,400
Since its introduction in 1997, the Honda CR-V has been one of the most popular compact crossover SUVs on the market. It’s based on the Civic platform, so it drives like a car but has the cargo capacity of a larger vehicle. As an added bonus, Honda has a strong track record of reliability. There haven’t been any major changes for the 2022 CR-V, so you may want to save some cash and go with the 2021 model.
- The CR-V gets good gas mileage and drives like a car.
- The interior is roomy and comfortable.
- It has one of the largest cargo holds in the compact SUV class.
- The cargo space is somewhat limited by the lack of a 40/20/40 split rear bench.
- You need to use premium fuel to get the best MPG performance.
Runner Up: 2022 Kia Soul
The Soul may feel like a compact option, but when you fold the rear seats down, the cargo hold is an impressive 62 cubic feet. That extra space makes it capable of transporting a large dog, but its size allows for smaller dogs to jump into the back. One downside of this compact SUV is that the rear doesn’t have its own climate control, which can be a problem when you’re driving through very hot regions.
6. Best Truck: 2022 Chevrolet Colorado
Starts at $25,200
The Chevrolet Colorado is a great option for pet transporters that are interested in other jobs like motorcycle shipping. The interior cab provides enough room to transport dogs, and the large truck bed is a great place to place accessories and other items (or stack shipments and transport bulky items in the bed while you have pets on the inside).
- The truck includes all-weather floor mats and easy-to-clean vinyl seats.
- The fold-down rear bench adds extra storage capacity.
- A low-riding tailgate makes it easy for dogs to jump in and out of.
- There’s not much passenger room when you’re transporting dogs inside the cab.
- Some other trucks have larger storage space.
Runner Up: 2022 Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is larger and more expensive than the Colorado. Despite its larger dimensions and engine, it gets comparable gas mileage. However, the steep price tag of the Ram makes the Colorado a more economical choice for pet transporters.
5. Best Minivan: 2022 Honda Odyssey
Starts at $33,040
If you plan to transport multiple large breeds of dog, there is no better option than a minivan. They offer relatively good fuel economy, loads of cargo room and a comfortable, quiet ride. One of the most popular minivans on the market is the Honda Odyssey. It’s extremely comfortable and spacious, and has many features like a tri-zone climate control and CabinWatch that are perfectly suited for dog transporters.
- Despite its large size, the Odyssey has decent fuel economy.
- The tri-zone climate control ensures the dogs will be comfortable throughout the journey.
- You can soothe anxious pups and keep a close eye on them using the CabinWatch and CabinTalk features.
- The Odyssey might be too large if you’re transporting smaller dogs.
- The high ride height may be too high for older dogs to jump into.
Runner Up: 2022 Chrysler Pacifica
The Chrysler Pacifica is another popular pick for dog transporters. Like the Odyssey it has a spacious interior and cargo area, good fuel economy and a comfortable ride. However, the additional pet-friendly accessories of the Honda van put it over the top.
4. Best Full-Size SUV: 2022 Land Rover Discovery
Starts at $56,600
Land Rover is a car manufacturer that’s been associated with luxury for decades. The Discovery is one of the most affordable models in its lineup with a base price of just over $56,000. Plus, if there’s an accident the Land Rover Portable Rise System is a mini-shower that’s ideal for cleaning up!
- You can upgrade with pet-friendly accessories like a folding pet access ramp and a full-height luggage partition and a spill-resistant water bowl.
- A washable cargo liner protects the interior and exterior from dogs’ claws.
- Intelligent Seat Fold technology allows you to reconfigure the second-and third-row seats from the center console, a remote smartphone app or switches in the rear cargo hold.
- Though it’s one of Land Rover’s less-expensive models, the Discovery still comes at a high price point.
- Despite the vehicle’s large size, it’s lacking in cargo volume.
Runner Up: 2022 Hyundai Palisade
The Hyundai Palisade is similar to the Land Rover Discovery, though it’s much more affordable. The drop in price tag comes with some sacrifices on luxury, but this is a high-quality full-size SUV.
3. Best Midsize SUV: 2022 Kia Telluride
Starting at $33,090
If you’re in the market for something a little smaller than the Land Rover — or don’t want to spend $50,000 on a new car — the Kia Telluride is a great choice. This midsize SUV is actually the largest vehicle ever produced by Kia, and the results are solid. When it debuted in 2020, it was a finalist for Motortrend’s SUV of the Year. The 2022 model retains the impressive qualities that made it a finalist.
- The Telluride has a very smooth, refined ride that keeps even the most anxious pups calm.
- The value of the Telluride is one of its strong suits, as it’s priced well below similar SUVs from other automakers.
- It will serve you well as a family vehicle when you’re not transporting dogs.
- It’s a bit lacking in power and responsiveness.
- It’s a small complaint, but the small-item storage in the cabin isn’t as good as competitors’ models.
Runner Up: 2020 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer has been a best-selling SUV in the United States since its introduction in the ‘90s. While it makes for a great car for transporting dogs, it doesn’t quite measure up to the impressive Telluride.
2. Best Station Wagon: 2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country
Starts at $46,200
Volvo has made a name for itself by manufacturing some of the safest and most reliable vehicles on the road. Though it used to be considered an “old-fashioned” automaker over the last few decades, it’s recently positioned itself as luxurious and stylish yet relatively affordable. The Volvo V60 Cross Country is our top station wagon in 2022 for dog transporters. It has a lower ride that makes it easy for any breed to jump in, regardless of age and over 50 cubic feet of cargo space.
If you are transporting dogs that like to be uncrated in the rear, the V60 has a dog gate that splits the cargo area into different sections and a protective grill that divides the cargo space from the passenger area. The icing on top is that Volvo offers pet insurance through Liberty Mutual
- It has loads of pet-friendly features like a dog harness and dog gate.
- Volvos are some of the safest vehicles on the road.
- The rear area offers plenty of cargo space.
- The V60 is pricey when compared with other station wagon options.
- Some models of the V60 don’t boast excellent fuel economy.
- The handling on this model could be a little more responsive.
Runner Up: Mercedes-Benz E400 Wagon
Mercedes-Benz is a name synonymous with comfort and that’s certainly true of the E400. However luxurious this vehicle is, it certainly doesn’t offer pet-friendly accessories like the V60 and its base price is almost $10,000 more.
1. Best Overall: 2022 Subaru Outback
Starts at $26,945
Regardless of body type, there is no better car for transporting pets than the Subaru Outback. It has a rugged design that’s perfect for transporting pets and enjoying the outdoors between trips. Despite its relatively compact size, it offers over 75 cubic feet of cargo space. That massive space, along with a flat load floor and cargo hooks, makes it easy to secure dog crates. If that’s not enough to sell you, Subaru works with the ASPCA on initiatives to benefit rescue dogs and with the Center for Pet Safety to research pet welfare.
- All-wheel drive comes standard with the Outback.
- It has a flat-load floor in the cargo area and hooks to secure dog crates.
- If you upgrade to the Onyx Edition it comes with water-repellent synthetic leather upholstery, which is ideal for transporting dogs.
- The Outback has a high ride height that can make it difficult for older dogs to jump in.
Now that you’ve seen a few of the best cars for transporting dogs in 2022, you’re ready to do some in-depth research and identify what vehicle is right for your needs. Potential shipping customers put a lot of consideration into the vehicle you drive, whether they’re a breeder or a family transporting their dog out of the state.
Start your free three-month trial with CitizenShipper today and find out how much you can make shipping dogs!
Last updated at September 29, 2022
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Content Writer at CitizenShipper. I’ve also been published on The Penny Hoarder, Mommy Poppins and mxdwn.