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I Have a Dog Walking Business in SF. All stop/start driving, with big hills too! What's best car

I’m driving a 2002 Mazda MPV, horrible mileage, about 12 with the kind of driving I do. I go a few blocks up a steep hill, stop go get the dog in the house, put it in the van, and repeat this up and down, in and out the rest of the day. I make about 40 of these kinds of stops each day, but only do about 20 miles total. I also drive 20 miles freeway on my commute. The gas is killing me.

I want a different car. Most of the dogs I take care of are small, they sit in the back of the van. I know dog walkers who use station wagons, even honda fits. I can fit 8 small dogs in the back of a fit. But it is a little small, so I was thinking something more like the NIssan Cube. But the mileage isn’t too good for what I read.

My other concern is that I get in and out of the car so many times a day, I like to sit high so that I avoid lots of wear and tear on my knees/back with the in and out, up and down.

Thanks for the ideas in advance!

Chevrolet HHR. Not made any more but my sister has one; she likes it for ease of entry and exit.

a Prius c or a jetta sportwagen tdi

How about using a dog powered cart, like a dog sled but on wheels.
Cheap on gas - The dogs get a work out. Everyone’s happy.

You are correct sir,
Actually, in the 80’s there used to be a guy with a team of huskies hooked up to a covered wagon who drove down Valencia St. In SF Mission District (hipster central nowadays).

I guess with the little guys, I could sit in a red wagon, and they could pull me.

What’s your budget?


Although a hybrid doesn’t actually make sense for a lot of people, it sounds like one would be perfect for your type of driving.

If you could get new, I’d say you’d be perfect for the new Ford C-Max, but at 7k…

Could you write the vehicle off as a business expense on your taxes?

How much do you want to spend? An electric car might work for you. You can go up to 40 miles before the gas engine kicks in on a Chevy Volt. A 2013 Nissan Leaf S will cost $28,800 MSRP and has a range of up to 80 miles. But you have to have a way to charge it at home. The same goes for the Volt. The vot is almost $40,000 and has unlimited range. I think you will get a big tax break with either.

I would love to get an all electric, but am an apt dweller, and no parking space. I’d get one in a NY second if I had the means to charge it.

I test drove the C-Max and that would be perfect. Perfect size, perfect height, nice drive. just can’t spend the dough

For your budget i would get a 2003-2007 Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe.

You would be perfect for a hybrid or electric, but at 7k that’s out of your budget. Might I make a suggestion? Since you’re getting such lousy gas mileage (12 mpg) now, anything would result in significant savings for you. Suppose you spend $1000/year on gas. If you find a car that gets 24 mpg in the city, that’ll cut your bill in half, to $500. Going all out for a hybrid at near 50 mpg would cut that bill to $250-a big improvement, but not as big a difference as just getting to something in the mid-20’s mpg. You should be able to find something in decent shape for 7k that gets around 24 mpg.

Used Ford Escape hybrid.

Used Honda Element, the best vehicle for dogs

I test drove the C-Max and that would be perfect. Perfect size, perfect height, nice drive. just can't spend the dough

Which is why I asked if you could write the expense off on your taxes. If you could, talk to a tax adviser and see what they say.

A tax write off is only good if income is high enough. No way to get from $7k to $35k just with tax deductions.

I had looked at the Matrix/Vibe as an option. I think the seats are a little too low for me. Getting in and out of the car about 40x a day really takes a toll on the body. If I sit just a little higher up, I can sort of slide right out and gently hoist myself back in rather than all the bending and crouching. It is important. I don’t want to save money on a vehicle only to give it to a chiropractor!

I hadn’t thought of a used ford escape. I’ll check into that one too.

I sure did like the c-max! Go check it out if you haven’t yet. Nice.

Thanks once again for all the insightful input. It really helps to get opinions.

A 2009 Escape with the 2.5L 4-cyl get 22 MPG in the city. The hybrid, which also uses a 2.5L, gets 34 MPG in the city.