Need dog-friendly vehicle

As my handle says, I have 3 dogs. I need a vehicle that will hold 2 medium size dog crates. I do not care about style or status, am only concerned with getting a practical reliable vehicle. I am unfortunately on a budget with a maximum of $24,000. I am looking at Honda Element and CRV, Mazda CX-7 and 5-door Mazda 3, and Subaru Forester. I live in the snowy upper midwest, so have preference for AWD. Also, I can drive either manual or automatic transmission.

I am open to other suggestions as well. I would happily look at used, but with the higher interest rate, it makes a used as expensive as a new.

Thank you all!

The Element seems to be the vehicle of choice for you. It appears you’ve done your homework. There is really little we could offer other than the usual 4 winter tire mantra. If you choose basic model you could possibly swing a new one.

You seem to be on the right track.

When you go for test drives, take the crates with you to make sure they fit and it’s not too difficult to get them in and out.

Balance that with your driving experience to choose the vehicle that suits you best.

Element would be good. They even have a dog edition you can look at.

I would add the RAV4 to your list

3doghouse, Just Curious. A Search Like This One Always Fascinates Me. I’d Like To Hear Your Reasoning On Why You Are Not Considering A Vehicle Made By GM Or Ford, Especially Living In The Midwest ?

Have you really got dealer support for the vehicles you’re considering ? A choice of more than one conveniently located dealer for those brands ?

What are you driving now ?

These answers could help you get meaningful suggestions from others.


Having a CX-7, I’m not sure 2 crates would fit in it with the seats folded down, but as another said, bring the crates with you when trying things out.

For more room consider a Mazda 5.

I live in Des Moines. We have all the usual assortment of car dealerships here.

I don’t understand why living in the upper midwest would make me want to consider a Ford or GM? I am not at all against a Ford or GM, but am curious which you feel would give me the quality of a Honda, Toyota, Mazda, or Subaru? The only Ford that I am partial to is the Edge b/c I like the big boxy look, but the gas mileage stinks. I have not heard good things about the Escape.

I am currently driving a 2007 Sentra; it was the best car for the money I could afford after my 13 year old Subaru was totaled. It is time to get something that will better serve my needs.

Thanks for the suggestion. The Mazda 5 may be a possibility. Pro: looks like a lot of car for the money. Con: when the 2nd row seats fold down they don’t make a flat cargo area which seems like not only poor design but also is an inefficient use of space… Still, I do want to see it, maybe the seats have a different fold-down configuration than what is shown in pics on website.

Thank you for all your suggestions. I am definitely leaning toward an Element. I really like the boxy functional space and the different ways you can configure the interior. I can also afford the AWD which is a big plus.

I will look into the RAV4. It has more cargo room than the Element, but I can’t afford the AWD model. The Mazda 5 has the most cargo room, but not sure it is all functional/usable because of the way the 2nd row seats fold down.

I will definitely take the crates with me, good suggestion!

When my beloved 13 year old Subaru was brutally murdered 4 years ago I bought a Nissan Sentra simply because it was the only thing I could afford at the time, but it is time to find something more practical.

Does anyone have any experience with either an Element, Mazda 5, or RAV4? Any thoughts on your experiences with them?

Thank you! 3DH

Only caution with the Element - don’t let the rubber floor covering fool you, you should not hose it out when it gets dirty. There are lots of electrical components under there!

My son got a lot of good years out of one of the early Elements. He traded it in for a Fit but the Element held up well and got a decent trade value. The only downside is the Element doesn’t get very good mpg.

"I am not at all against a Ford or GM, but am curious which you feel would give me the quality of a Honda, Toyota, Mazda, or Subaru? "

That’s easy… A Ford or GM product will give you excellent reliability. I suggest that you look at a Chevy Equinox. You can get an 2011 AWD Equinox LS for under $24,000. You might even find an LT1 for around $24,000 with the $1000 rebate. Just go look at one and test drive it. If you don’t like it, buy something else.

Asian Car Myth, Closed Mind, Open Wallet.