As a dog owner, choosing a car can be frustrating – you pore over brochures, choose your exact spec, test drive the car… then get faced with a blank expression when the family pooch point blank refuses to get in it. Help is at hand, though, because all the cars here are estates with low load lips and big boot openings – if your dog won’t jump in these then it’s a stubborn beast indeed. Keep reading for our guide to the best cars for dogs you can currently buy.
1. Peugeot Rifter
Okay, you might think the Peugeot Rifter has all the kerb appeal of a panel van, but to your dog, it’s more like a Rolls Royce – hence why it tops our best cars for dogs list. With a 775-litre boot capacity, the Rifter has more than 100 litres on its closest competitor here – making it ideal even if you have large dogs. Its huge boot opening and complete lack of a load lip also makes it easy for your dog to leap into place – it’s clear why professional dog walkers love van-based cars like this. There’s plenty for you to like, too, though. For one, it’s very spacious for five passengers, you get loads of storage space and while the cabin’s not exactly luxurious, it should be durable. Throw in light controls and the Rifter’s punchy 130hp 1.6-litre diesel and it’s an ideal car for you and your hounds.
2. Skoda Superb Estate
The Skoda Superb Estate arguably should top our best cars for dogs list, but it can’t match the Rifter’s boot capacity so it gets beaten back into second place here. Its 660-litre boot capacity means it is still a brilliant car for dogs, though, and its large boot opening and low load lip means your pooch shouldn’t have any problem jumping in. You and your family should also be very happy sitting in the Superb Estate, there’s loads of room up front and its rear legroom is comparable to what you’d find in a luxury limo. And that’s not a million miles from how the Superb drives. Its suspension is set up for comfort so, although it rolls a little in bends, it rides very well over bumps in the road and it is also very quiet at a cruise. Choose the 150hp diesel model and you’ll get punchy performance as well as strong fuel economy.
3. Peugeot 308 SW
The Peugeot 308 SW gets close to topping our best cars for dogs list but, while it’s brilliant for your dog, it’s not necessarily the best choice for you. First, to the good points – the Peugeot’s 660-litre boot is comfortably the biggest you’ll find in any car this size. Its opening and a low load lip make it easy for a dog to get in, and there’s a place to store the parcel shelf. The 130hp 1.6-litre diesel engine gives decent performance when the car’s fully loaded and you also get excellent fuel economy. The bad news, however, becomes clear when you spot the Peugeot’s tight back seat and limited interior storage, and when you realise that many of the car’s systems are operated via the clunky infotainment screen.
4. Mercedes E-Class Estate
While the Peugeot 308 SW is a car your dog can enjoy, the Mercedes E-Class Estate makes it onto our best cars for dogs list because it is brilliant for you too. It has a 640-litre boot with a massive opening and a low floor that should prove an irresistible leap for even the most tentative of animals (cars fitted with air suspension can even be lowered to ease entry). Up front, you’ll be treated to one of the most luxurious interiors you’ll find in any car and you get plenty of space to stretch out. That’s true for your back seat passengers also and there’s plenty of interior storage. All E-Class models are quiet and relaxing to drive and come with an automatic gearbox as standard but for the effortless progress you might expect of a car like this, choose the E400d, which is very powerful but also surprisingly good on fuel.
5. Skoda Octavia Estate
The Skoda Octavia Estate might not have the biggest boot here, but it still has a place on this list of best cars for dogs. The Skoda’s 610-litre boot capacity comfortable outshines other cars its size – bar the Peugeot 308 SW – but, unlike in the Peugeot, in the Skoda, your rear passengers don’t have to put up with tight legroom. You and your front seat passenger will have plenty of room, too, the Skoda’s dashboard layout makes it intuitive to use and the whole thing feels very well built. All models also come with an infotainment system that can use the maps on your smartphone. The engine range is also strong, but if you’re often going to be carrying a heavy load the 150hp diesel will cope admirably while also returning strong fuel economy.
6. Volkswagen Golf R Estate
Just because you have a dog doesn’t mean you need to settle for something boring – as the stupidly quick Volkswagen Golf R Estate (sixth on our best cars for dogs list) proves here. The Golf R Estate has everything we love about the regular Golf Estate – including a huge 605-litre boot that your dog will have no problem jumping in to, excellent build quality and plenty of passenger space. To that solid foundation, the R Estate adds big alloy wheels, a body kit and four exhaust pipes that make it look a lot more purposeful than a boggo Golf. And it’s got the performance to back up those looks courtesy of a 300hp engine and four-wheel drive that means it can out sprint most hot hatches and is safe and stable to drive even in terrible weather conditions. It’s even relatively cheap to run, with 40mpg fuel economy possible at a steady cruise.
7. BMW 5 Series Touring
The BMW 5 Series Touring is another car that can keep you and your dog very happy, in fact, with a larger boot it could easily top our best cars for dogs list. Why? Well, because it’s perfect in almost every way. It looks smart on the outside, feels very well built inside and comes as standard with a top-of-the-range infotainment system that’s better and easier to use than the Mercedes E-Class’ more basic standard system. Out on the road, the BMW manages to be comfortable and relaxing, but also fun to drive when you’re in the mood and the 2.0-litre diesel engine fitted to the 520d is powerful and cheap to run. Even the dog will be happy, the BMW’s boot has no load lip for it to jump over and the 570-litre capacity means there’s easily enough space for a couple of labradors.
8. Skoda Fabia Estate
The Skoda Fabia Estate proves that you don’t need to buy a big car to get one of the best cars for dogs. The Fabia’s 530-litre boot is huge – almost double the size of a Volkswagen Polo’s – which should keep the family dog happy. You, meanwhile, get to enjoy Volkswagen build quality (Skodas use VW parts) and an interior that’s big enough for four adults and packed full of useful smaller storage spaces. If it’ll often be fully loaded then it’s best to get your Skoda Fabia Estate fitted with the 105hp diesel engine which has plenty of grunt for hauling heavy loads and will also prove cheap to run. It’s not the sportiest of engines, but then the Fabia isn’t the sportiest of cars, it is, however, easy to drive and comfortable.
9. Volvo V60
Carrying dogs is historically a Volvo speciality – the company’s famed for producing boxy estate cars – so it might be a surprise to find the Volvo V60 languishing at the bottom of our best cars for dogs list. Until that is, you see it, when you’ll realise that this is no traditional Volvo estate – in fact, it’s actually a bit of looker. That’s true inside, too, where you can have your V60 kitted out in expensive wood and leather trims. It’s still very practical though, so your three passengers get very comfortable seats with loads of space and your dog will approve of the 529-litre boot – it is the biggest you’ll find in a small posh estate car. The Volvo isn’t as fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series Touring, but it is very comfortable and the D5 diesel engine is powerful and cheap to run.
10. Audi RS4 Avant
The Audi RS4 Avant is king if you want the performance of a supercar combined with the practicality of an estate car. Even though it sits at the bottom of our list of the best cars for dogs, its 505-litre boot is bigger than you get in the Mercedes-AMG C63 and there’s space inside for four adults. It also feels even nicer built than the Mercedes inside, and has a more intuitive infotainment system. When we talk about the RS4, though, we really want to talk about performance because its 450hp V6 rockets it from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds. As ferocious as that sounds, the RS4 is an easy car to drive quickly, because it’s quattro four-wheel drive system means you don’t need to worry about wheel spin even in awful weather conditions.