Cargo space: What does cubic feet really tell you?



What good is cargo space in cubic feet?

I’m looking for a new or used car depending upon price. I want to transport 3 Whippets in fixed sized crates? Do I have to contact every dealer to get the actual length x width x height? I’m currently investigation Mazda5


When someone has very specific space requirements (like you) the only way to know for sure is to try it out for yourself.


You should be able to get actual width x height from various services like Edmunds.

The problem with cubic feet is that it won’t tell you that you have enough square feet of surface to put your crates on.

Like texases said - your best bet is to physically try things out for yourself. I’d start with internet searches. Then, if your crates are small & light enough just start taking them with you to the dealer lots and see how it goes. If the crates are too cumbersome get or construct some cardboard boxes of exactly the same size and take those instead.


Consumer Reports has the trunk and cargo capcity for every car sold in America. Just buy their Buyer’s Guide for $10 or so.

Of course the shape of the cargo space means a lot, since your cages are square, no doubt. As other say, you should take the cages to those dealers that sell the cars you have beforehand decided have the most space. There are some really square boxes on the market, but a long wheelbase minivan has the most space for the money.

If you want the most space in a station wagon type vehicle the Ford Flex is gigantic with the seats down.


Consumer Reports give cargo volume in cubic feet. Unless I’m suppose to figure it out from car exterior dimensions: 182L, 69W, 64H, wheelbase 108" . My Dodge Caravan has a fried transmission so I have to ask friends to take me to dealers. I’m trying to cut down on the time I have to ask friends for help.


Practically speaking, it tells you how much air you have to breath if the vehicle were submerged. Other than that, the max and minimum values (l,w,h), like in calculus are probably just as important. The comparison of those max’s and min’s could give you a general idea of fitment when compared to dimensions of your load


Yeah, you could get something like the Solstice, with 3.5 cubic feet of trunk space, but realistically you’re only getting 3.5 cubic feet of sand in there.

Or a less comical example: A ~2000 Forester and Legacy have nearly the same cargo volume. My mother looked at both and bought a Forester because the wheelchair she needed to carry did not fit, vertically, in the Legacy without collapsing it, but fit just fine in the Forester.


Unless a measurement gives you the MINIMUM width and height and length, it’s meaningless, and you’ll rarely see specs like that with detailed information on how things were measured. You will need to take your own measurements, or actually try to fit the object you need to fit into the car into the car.


Line the crates up on the floor the way you would normally carry them in the vehicle. Then take a tape and measure the overall dimensions of the 3 units. Do this for several arrangements.

You can the take these figures to a dealership and with a tape measure and see if there is a fit. I often do this when buying stuff at Costco, who don’t deliver, to see if the package will fit in my car, or whether I need to ask a find with a truck.

If I had 3 dog cages I would be spending a large amount of time with a sketch pad, tape measure at the various dealers. Sorry about the fried transmission, but I assume that that vehicle could actually acommodate the crates. That’s a good start, comparing your new vehicle with the old one.

Happy shopping!


That’s the problem with whippets. Every time you get a new whippet you have to get a whole new golf bag, a new cart, and everything else, and then you need a bigger trunk.

Seriously, the only way to really know is to bring your crated whippets with you when you check the car out. Nothing else will substitute.


OP can leave the whippets at home just bringing the crates will do. CR used to have an adjustable pipe frame “box” that they used to measure the largest single object you could put in a a station wagon or van. I have not seen them use that contraption lately.


The cargo space in cubic feet is not really relevant if you’re trying to fit specific things. Check out If you belong to any whippet, or other dog groups, check out what cars they have. One of my obedience trainers has a set of wire crates with slanted fronts to accomodate the slanted rear gate of most cars, but I don’t know where she got them. Alternatively, if you have one that is not a chewer, you can use a seatbelt harness. I typically drive with one malamute in a crate (she is a chewing machine) and another in a seatbelt harness in the back seat.

BTW, if you get a new car, you’ll surely need to get shiny new crates to go in it!


You need either a wagon, crossover, van, or suv to get the height for the crates. The cu ft gives you a number but doesn’t always translate into useable space. Wheel wheels, strut towers, can cut into useable space. There are several types of cargo cages that you can have installed behind the rear seats, some are even moveable so they can be positioned behind the front seats for more space with the rear seats folded down. Volvo wagons used to have a cargo net built into the rear seat backs that connected to the ceiling to create a nice open area for my dogs.

If the dogs have to be separated and/or you feel safer using crates you’ll need to take the crates with you when you shop for a car. There is no substitute for actually trying them on for size.