Cargo space for therapy dogs

We’re in the market for a new (used) vehicle. Our Pontiac Vibe took a blow to the side and is beyond reasonable repair. We need a vehicle with sufficient cargo space to carry our two therapy dog collies (106 pounds and 80 pounds) for weekly visits to area nursing homes. The Vibe’s space was barely sufficient so we’re looking for something slightly larger. We really like the 30 mpg fuel consumption on the Vibe. Any ideas?

Ford Flex

Honda Element? It sits at 20/25MPG…not quite the 30. Flex comes in at 29/40, which is pretty good, I think.

Scion xB, but 30 mpg will be tough. You might check out the Honda Fit, but make sure you like the ride, it’s a bit firm.

I don’t think a Flex can get 40 mpg highway, it’s BIG.

Silly me…I used the info Google pulled in, rather than following the link. Ford’s site reports it as 17/24.

There are a couple of boxy little cars like the Scion XB. Nissan, and Kia make them also. Ugly but reasonably good mileage. Also consider a 2wd version of a Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4 if you are sticking with the used market only.

Any number of minivans will work, but won’t get the gas mileage you are looking for.

texases: If they think the Vibe is barely adequate, a Fit will be worse.

As with all vehicles, the more room you have, the larger the car you need, and the less mileage you’ll get.


You’d probably get ~27 mpg out of one if you got 30 out of a Vibe (based on owner reports at relative to EPA ratings). But they’re considerably bigger. You’d likely get a bit better mileage (1-2 mpg more) than in a Rav4 or CRV, but you’d also have more room.

The third row folds completely flat, as does the second row, so you really can get a ton of space in them. Very reasonably priced, too…

One other alternative to the Mazda 5 is the Kia Rondo.

And I agree, bscar, but if 30 mpg is a major priority something will have to be sacrificed.

The Scion xB is now quite a bit larger than it used to be, and it has the big 4 in it, so it has a good amount of room, but I don’t think it’d average 30 mpg.

Thanks for training your dogs for therapy dog work, and for taking them to visit people in nursing homes.

Since you only take them once a week, buy another Vibe, Matrix, or similar size vehicle and keep the good mileage.

It would be wasteful to buy a larger, less fuel-efficient vehicle if you only need its extra size one day a week.

In a recent emergency, I squeezed three Great Danes (165, 145, and 135 pounds) into a '96 Subaru Legacy station wagon for a 250 mile trip. It was tight, but they survived.

Subsequently, I’ve rented minivans when I need to transport them. The rental vans provide WAY more space, but their fuel mileage is nothing to brag about.

If you want a larger vehicle, I suggest a used Ford Taurus station wagon, or a 2005-2007 Ford Focus station wagon. The Taurus is larger than the Focus or your Vibe, and would have more than enough room for two dogs, but won’t get the mileage you’re looking for.

The Focus would deliver better mileage, and might have a slightly larger cargo area than your Vibe.

Unfortunately, as size goes up, fuel mileage goes down. I’d buy a more fuel-efficient car and squeeze them in.

Good luck.

Thinking more on it, I used to take my Retreiver all over with us (he was 80 lbs), and more than once I also carted around a friends dog with us (he weighed in at about 80 as well). I had a Corolla. They were trained well enough that they laid on the seat when I told them to lay down. Yours are at least that well trained, I’m sure. If you’ve got them behind a barrier of some kind, or strapped in for their protection (regular doggie harness), they’ll survive almost any trip just fine in almost any vehicle. I’d worry more about the condition of the seats afterwards than how well they fit.

How about a Ford Focus Wagon?

They’re not that common, but they’d have FAR more space in the rear than a Vibe. I believe they even sold doggie harnesses that strapped into the vehicle for them, too.

There are only 3 in our entire metro area for sale on Autotrader - ranging from $2,950 to $6,995 in asking price, though they have from 112k, 178k, and 201k miles on the odometer (who said domestics don’t last!?)