Hello and welcome to Dogs-N-More! If this is your first time visiting, please drop down and read Sue's post first.
I'm going to jump right in and babble about the subject at hand, because we happen to be gingerly poking around in search of the best dogmobile for our household. I don't need to explain to any of you how important our fur-girls' needs are in our selection, but I probably should note that I research to the point of pain for my husband. He's more of a "Hey, this looks good, feels good, should work, let's buy it!" kinda' guy, but I need ratings and reviews, a handful of test drives (or more!), and any other information I can find about that particular vehicle.
I've found two very helpful sites. Dog Cars reviews vehicles (although do note that some brands just don't seem to be represented) and some pet products, while Motherproof features a handful of different moms with different lifestyle who review vehicles. I especially find it helpful when more than one of them review the same ride. I do have to mention that sometimes the Motherproof site is incredibly slow to load, but if you have the time and patience, even if you don't have two-legged children to consider, there's helpful information in there. Both sites are USA-based, but they do review a nice assortment so perhaps they might be useful for our international readers too. Dog Cars also seems to focus on dogs that ride in crates, so it might be helpful for any of you with other pets that travel in crates, and not always so helpful to those of us whose pets aren't crated in the vehicle.
Now, as you might expect, our needs are a little different than those of Sue and her pack. I have driven SUVs for years, because our dirt road was only recently paved, and when we do get snow, it's one of the last in the area to get plowed. Plus, we go to the family farm often enough that it's nice to be able to head through the fields in whatever we're in, so ground clearance matters. We also are focusing on cargo room for this purchase, because our fur-girls go to the beach with us several times a year, and we all overpack. Just to make it complicated, I also have serious back issues and need luxury - heated seats aren't just a creature comfort for me. Sometimes, that's all the keeps me driving/riding for the duration.
The girls need a bench seat, which is creating problems, due to the popularity of captains chairs in the "second row" of many SUVs and crossovers. Our girls ride in a harness and seatbelt combination, and Sissy (a basset) needs the length a bench seat offers. Gretchen doesn't ride so well, and needs to be able to snuggle her big sister to get through the ordeal. Mugsy (deceased) and Sissy give you a good idea of how our dogs travel in the photo to the left.
For us, leather works remarkably well. We do have one truck without leather, and those pesky white hairs weave themselves into the fabric and then miraculously release themselves onto anyone sitting within, wearing dark clothing. Some doggy friends swear by vinyl, and if we could find vinyl with the heated seats, we'd love to try it.
Our current "travel vehicle" is showing its age and is a bit too small with only 34 cubic feet of cargo space, with the rear seat up. So far we've eliminated several SUVs and crossovers because they're either too small or because we can't get the features we want. If it has three rows of seating, we want the girls immediately behind us, so we can reach back and pet them, or in my case, pop back and clean up messes, offer a toy as a distraction, etc. I'm eager to read about your ideal petmobiles!
I do wish I had photos of my last cat, Socrates. He LOVED to ride, and took at least two road trips from central Virginia to Philadelphia, PA with me. No crate required; he just lounged in the passenger's seat, or in the rear window if it was sunnier there. We had a compact car at the time, and it suited us both quite well. I have one friend who takes her fish with her when they go RVing, but I'm not sure where the fish bowl rides...
Do tell us about how you travel with your pets, what features you like/need, and reviews of your vehicles are great too!