I need a dog friendly car with a driver's seat with lots of head room

Hi Guys! I need some help -
I have lower back problems that get worse when I sit in a car where your legs are extended out in front of you. I need a vehicle where you sit up off the floor with knees bent, like you do in a chair. But I have a long spine, so I need a lot of head room. When I sit in most cars, I end up banging my head when I try to get out. So here’s part two of the conundrum. I need a vehicle that is dog friendly - I have two dogs that need good space and ventilation. I used to own a Toyota Sequoia and it was perfect! But my new husband thought I should trade it in as it had more than 120k miles on it and was a gas guzzler. I like the dog friendliness of the Honda Element, but the driver’s seat will not be good for my back or my head. What do you recommend?

How much do you want to spend is the first question. I think an equinox with electric seat controls might be worth looking into.

The Forester is an option.

We have the same problem you have with the seating position in most cars. Therefore, we no longer have a conventional car. We bought a minivan back in 1991 and have had three more minivans since that time. Our other vehicle is a Toyota 4runner. For us, a comfortable seating position is more important than gasoline mileage. We have found that the 350 mile trip to visit our son is not at all tiring in the 4Runner. The Oldsmobile 88 the 4Runner replaced caused my legs to ache after less than 100 miles and the Oldsmobile had a power seat.
For transporting our dog, the dog crate we use fits well in either our 4Runer or Sienna minivan. However, for most trips, I put the dog in a harness and purchased a strap at the pet store that hooks to the harness and has a loop on the other end and the shoulder harness goes through that loop. I have a towel that I throw over the seat and the dog rides along like a person.
Besides the 4Runner, the other SUVs that I have driven for long distances have been the Ford Escape Hybrid and the Chevrolet Traverse. Both vehicles had comfortable seating positions for me. The Escape Hybrid ran about 33 miles per gallon, but I understand that Ford dropped this vehicle. I didn’t measure the gas mileage on the Traverse.

An Element with an aftermarket seat or a seat from a different vehicle that a shop adapts to fit.


Seriously, for this one you’re gonna have to search. A Consumer’s Report New Car Preview from the local bookstore should help.

I too would try an Element with a custom/aftermarket seat.

I agree the Forester is a good choice.

You really have to tour the dealers and used car lots trying out various models. Keep a list of those that are good or very good for your comfort and go from there.


Hit the car lots and see if you can find a Ford Freestyle. They have fold down seats and a pretty upright seating position.

Another roomy car with LOTS of headroom is the Scion xB.

(Doing my best Tom Magliozzi impersonation): Sounds like you need a different husband!

Take our suggestions…
Take the dog…
and go visit the car lots…BUT
tell them up front…
no fit…

Yes, take the dog. then they’ll know you’re seriuos about your deal-breaker specs.
If your sales person won’t adjust to YOU…walk away.

You should have seen the salesman’s eyes when my dad went out to his trade-in E150 van and pulled out his 1955 Epiphone upright bass fiddle ! ( he HAD in fact stated that he must have a smallish car that it would fit in…I guess he didn’t really believe him or not realize its size )
When the salesman saw deal-or-no-deal shoved in his face he stopped even mentioning certain ones and stepped up to the plate.
He got a Focus 4door hatchback. Bass fiddle fits fine with the neck forwad in the passenger seat and it’s made four Texas - Ohio trips without incident…even at 84 years old.

Ford Transit Connect van, 2013 if you can get one.

If you haven’t sold the Seqouia yet, you might want to keep it. 120,000 miles is not a lot for that truck. If you sold it, why not get a new or nearly new Sequoia? The new one will be around $60,000 but a used 2012 might cost $20,000 less. If gas mileage is really important, consider a Toyota Highlander hybrid.

Any P/U truck…Put a topper on it and put the dogs in the back. They can lick your face AFTER you get home…

I agree that the xB is good for headroom. So is the Kia Soul. Those are both inexpensive and similar in roominess to the Element. Which has quite a lot of headroom, though the seat might not be mounted as high as you prefer. I also concur on the Forester. From its first generation on it has always had lots of headroom. Any minivan will also have the kind of seating position you describe, though it sounds like you want a smaller vehicle.

I too have back problems and need to sit upright. I pull my seats as far forward as possible so my legs will be bent.

as mentioned, pick ups are comfortable and so is my jeep Cherokee, tho it is an older model and I don t know how the new ones are set up

Convertible comes to mind but this is the season for auto shows, so hit the one in your area with a tape measure.