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What has 42 teeth, sheds an abundance of carpet-clogging hair, and enjoys nothing more than a good dig in the garden?
No, not your hairy, abnormally toothy archaeologist uncle. We’re talking about your pet pooch.
And while you may not savour driving said uncle around – nobody wants to spend hours cleaning back-hair out of the crevices of the front passenger seat, after all – you no doubt look forward to time on the road with your beloved dog. If you don’t, perhaps you’re driving the wrong car.
Yes, your set of wheels can make or break a trip with your four-legged friend, sending you from tail-wag to tail-spin quicker than you can say “Miniature Schnauzer”.
So, which vehicles make great hound-haulers? We pick six of the best.
1. Toyota FJ Cruiser
To travel to the remotest of dog-walking paradises, you’ll need an off-road capable vehicle. And capable the FJ Cruiser most certainly is. Opt for the 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine, and you have 200kW and 380Nm at your disposal (and, thankfully, a second fuel-tank), as well as a proper low-range gearbox and an electrically activated rear differential lock.
What makes the FJ Cruiser dog-friendly? Well, the interior features water-repellent seats trimmed in a mix of special fabric and PVC. Likewise, the hulking Toyota boasts hose-down rubber floors, making them a cinch to clean after a muddy dog-walk. Make sure you keep the front windows cracked for sufficient ventilation, however, seeing as the rear glass is fixed in place.
2. Honda Jazz
Is there a more versatile B-segment offering than the Honda Jazz? We seriously doubt it. Which makes the third-generation version of the compact hatchback rather well suited to dog-carrying. Sure, it’s not the biggest car around, but the cabin is a surprisingly spacious one.
Of course, that’s thanks largely to the brand’s clever Magic Seats system, which allows for all manner of seating and loading configurations. Or, if you prefer transporting your pup in a crate, the rear bench easily folds completely flat, resulting in 1881 litres of utility space (yip, that’s a lot of dog).
3. Subaru Outback
Perhaps the quintessential modern car for dog-lovers, the Subaru Outback has built up a cult-like following among friends of, er, man’s best friend. Indeed, the Japanese brand as a whole is known to cater to the pooch-passionate public, even putting together a string of clever “Dog Tested” commercials (go on, YouTube it).
The all-wheel drive Outback has oodles of room in the rear – it’s essentially a raised station-wagon, after all – while the luggage compartment features a handily low loading lip (making it easy for ol’ Rusty to hop in and out). And, of course, there’s a sometimes-vicious Boxer lurking under the bonnet (get it?).
4. Nissan e-NV200
Petrol- or diesel-powered Nissan NV200 models have plenty going for them when it comes to lugging Labradors. Drop all but two of the seven seats, and the brick-shaped Nissan comes to the party with a startling 3100-litre load volume (how many dogs did you say you own?).
In addition, entry is made simple thanks to the dual sliding doors and the top-hinged tailgate, as well as the super-low loading floor. But if Fido is the nervous type, he may just like the all-electric version – which features the same 24kWh lithium-ion battery as the Nissan Leaf – better, since there’s no loud internal combustion engine or indeed traditional gear-shift shocks (it uses a seamless CVT).
5. Audi RS 6 Avant
If your hound has an unnatural love of speed, the latest version of the Audi RS 6 Avant may just be the perfect ride. You see, it employs a 4.0-litre V8 TFSI (worth a staggering 412kW and 700Nm), resulting in a zero to 100km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds. In fact, in pretty much any part of the world, it’s regarded as the dog’s bollocks.
It’s considerably quicker than, say, a BMW M4 – and there’s plenty of room in the back, too: 565 litres of space with all seats in place, and a whopping 1680 litres with the rear perches folded down. The monster-estate also features adaptive air suspension as standard, which means you can dial in “Comfort” mode if things become a little too bumpy for speed-freak Spot. Just make sure you strap the little fella in.
6. Renault Captur
Although the Captur can’t quite match the Honda Jazz for compact versatility, it certainly tries hard. The luggage compartment features a false floor perfect for hiding any valuables during a long walk. One side is trimmed in carpet, but flip it over and you’ll notice that the other is lined with rubber. Clever. And useful for muddy paws.
In addition, the rear bench can slide fore and aft to maximise either boot space or rear passenger (or, should we say, dog) room. But perhaps the best news – particularly for owners of car-sick pups – is that the Captur boasts washable seat covers that are easily removed thanks to a simple zip system.