Canine out of 10

The top dog-friendly ve­hi­cles based on crash test rat­ings, econ­omy and ease of use

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Top Ten -

1. VOLVO XC60

Has a roomy cabin with ac­ces­sories in­clud­ing rub­ber mats for the cargo area and a pet bar­rier that con­nects to the tops of the rear seats. Safety fea­tures in­clude City Safety, which au­to­mat­i­cally ap­plies the brakes to avoid low-speed rear-en­ders in traf­fic.

2. SUBARU FORESTER

Gets the nod for a spacious, com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for peo­ple and their pets. The ride is sta­ble and all-wheeldrive gives pre­dictable han­dling. The cargo floor is 670mm off the ground so it is easy for most dogs to jump in and out, chi­huahuas apart.

3. HYUNDAI SANTA FE

The cargo space is good, even for larger breeds of dog, and Hyundai— and its sup­pli­ers— have many ac­ces­sories to make life on the road easy for your dog. These in­clude rub­ber mats, beds and pet di­viders.

4. MAZDA3 HATCH

Among com­pacts, the Mazda3 is a stand­out. Han­dling is sharp, the ride is very good and the in­te­rior is ex­cep­tion­ally flex­i­ble, al­though its suitabil­ity for larger breeds is in doubt. It also rates for the wideopen­ing rear doors and hatch and its ro­bust in­te­rior.

5. MINICOUN­TRY­MAN

This is the Maxi of Minis. The longer body, fold­able rear seats, four doors and big tail­gate make it easy to load even a larger breed. As for the driver, this Mini is great fun to drive. Its han­dling is crisp and im­me­di­ate, ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk and brak­ing se­cure.

6. KIA SOUL

It’s roomier than its ex­te­rior di­men­sions sug­gest, which makes the Soul a good choice for trans­port­ing smaller and mid-size breeds. Af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories to make the trip eas­ier in­clude thick, heavy-duty mats and pet-re­sis­tant seat cov­ers. The ride is a bit firm but the han­dling is good. The win­dows are big­ger than av­er­age for a good view to the sides.

7. BMW3 SE­RIES TOUR­ING

This wagon has han­dling and agility to ri­val some sports cars. BMWhas a wide range of ac­ces­sories to make the car more suit­able for pet trans­port, in­clud­ing sturdy di­viders that con­fine a dog to the cargo area. The com­pact in­te­rior may be a bet­ter choice for medium-sized to smaller breeds.

8. TOY­OTA RUKUS

The ‘‘ Camry in a box’’ has a big, ver­sa­tile in­te­rior with a large hatch. The durable ma­te­ri­als, ex­cel­lent ac­cess from four doors and flex­i­ble seat­ing de­sign make it a good choice for small to medium-sized pets. Ac­ces­sories such as a cargo divi­sion are avail­able as af­ter­mar­ket prod­ucts.

9. PEU­GEOT 3008

Rates along­side the 4007 in terms of ver­sa­tile in­te­rior but its looks— car-rather than SUV-like— add a bit of class. The 3008 rides high and has a flat floor with a low load­ing height, mak­ing it eas­ier for ath­letic medium-sized pooches to reach. The diesel is also frugal with low emis­sions.

10. SKODA OC­TAVIA WAGON

Huge cargo area with mas­sive un­der­floor stor­age make this a win­ner for big­ger dogs. A good ac­ces­sories list, strong fab­rics and flex­i­ble seat­ing also make it a durable pet hauler. The diesel en­gine is also miserly on fuel. For more room with more class but more cost, there is the Skoda Su­perb Wagon.

Which should you go fur? Choos­ing a car that suits your dog is not such a breeze, al­though Rocco (above left) is clearly en­joy­ing this one. Among the fron­trun­ners are (clock­wise, from top) the Skoda Oc­tavia Wagon, Volvo XC60 and Kia Soul. Main pic­ture: Andy Par­kee

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