On-road hound heaven

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWL­ING

DOGS don’t buy cars. In­stead, when it comes to cars, they have to mooch around and take what­ever bone their own­ers de­cide to throw at them.

But what hap­pens when the dog be­comes the judge?

The AAA in the US re­cently com­piled a list of ve­hi­cles that will ap­pease driv­ers, pas­sen­gers and ca­nines alike, and keep them safe and com­fort­able.

More than 80 per cent of dog own­ers take their canine com­pan­ions along with them in their ve­hi­cles – any­thing from a trip to the shops to long-haul road hol­i­days – so there’s good cause to keep the pooch happy.

The fol­low­ing are the top 10 dog-friendly ve­hi­cles, based on fac­tors such as crash test rat­ings, safety fea­tures, fuel econ­omy, ease of an­i­mal ingress and egress, cargo area size, avail­abil­ity of tie-down hooks, and easyto-clean in­te­ri­ors. 1. VOLVO XC60: A roomy cabin with ac­ces­sories that in­clude 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 roomy, com­fort­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for peo­ple and their pets. The ride is sta­ble and the all­wheel drive han­dling is pre­dictable. The cargo floor is 670mm off the ground, mak­ing it easy for most dogs to jump in and out. 3. HYUNDAI SANTA FE: The cargo space is good for even larger breeds of dogs and Hyundai — and its sup­pli­ers — have many ac­ces­sories to make life on the road easy for the dog. These in­clude rub­ber mats, beds and pet di­viders. 4. MAZDA3 hatch: Among com­pacts, the AAA says the Mazda3 is a stand­out. Han­dling is sharp, the ride is very good and the hatch­back’s in­te­rior is ex­cep­tion­ally flex­i­ble, al­though its suitabil­ity for larger breeds is in doubt. It also rates for the wideopen­ing rear doors, hatch and ro­bust in­te­rior. 5. MINI COUN­TRY­MAN: This is the Maxi of Minis. The longer body struc­ture, fold­able rear seats, four doors and big rear hatch make it easy to get even a larger breed in and out. It’s also great fun to drive — han­dling is crisp and im­me­di­ate, ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk and brak­ing se­cure. 6. KIA SOUL: This is roomier than its ex­te­rior di­men­sions sug­gest, which makes the Soul a good choice for trans­port­ing smaller and mid-size breeds. Af­ter-mar­ket ac­ces­sories de­signed to make the trip eas­ier in­clude thick, heavy­duty mats and pet-re­sis­tant seat cov­ers. The ride can be a bit firm, but the han­dling is good, and the win­dows are big­ger than av­er­age to al­low your four-legged friend a good view to the sides. 7. BMW 3-SE­RIES TOUR­ING: This wagon of­fers han­dling and agility that ri­val some sports cars. BMW of­fers 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 to smaller breeds. 8. TOY­OTA RUKUS: The ‘‘Camry in a box’’ has a big, use­able in­te­rior with a large rear hatch. The durable ma- teri­als, ex­cel­lent ac­cess from four doors and flex­i­ble seat­ing de­sign make it a good choice for small to medium pets. Ac­ces­sories such as a cargo divi­sion are avail­able as af­ter-mar­ket prod­ucts. 9. PEU­GEOT 3008: Rates along­side the 4007 as hav­ing a ver­sa­tile in­te­rior but the car – not SUV – looks of the 3008 add a bit of class. The 3008 rides high and has a flat floor with a low load­ing height, mak­ing it not too dif­fi­cult for ath­letic medium- size pooches to en­ter and leave. The diesel is also frugal and low in emis­sions. 10. SKODA OC­TAVIA WAGON: Huge cargo area with mas­sive un­der-floor stor­age make this a win­ner for the big­ger dogs. A good list of ac­ces­sories, strong fab­rics and flex­i­ble seat ar­range­ment also make it a durable pet hauler. The diesel en­gine is also miserly on fuel. More room with more class but more cost is the Skoda Su­perb wagon.

More than 80 per cent of dog own­ers take their canine com­pan­ions along in their ve­hi­cles

Subaru’s Forester is a roomy and com­fort­able ride for both man and beast — and dogs can eas­ily jump in and out

Cargo space to suit larger breeds is a fea­ture of Hyundai’s Santa Fe

The Volvo XC60 has pet bar­ri­ers that con­nect to the tops of the rear seats

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