The best vehicles for dog all have a large rear lift gate to make it easy for them to get in and out.

When it comes to hauling around your kids, soccer gear, groceries and other family accoutrements, it’s hard to beat the classic minivan. But what if you’re adding a dog into the mix?

That’s a question a lot of folks face with 78.2 million people Americans owning dogs, according to The Humane Society. And for those with canines coming along for the ride, the choice isn’t as simple as it might seem. said 55% of visitors to its website seek out cars and trucks that can accommodate their dogs, and that 75% of its shoppers who have a dog take their pet in the car at least once a month.

For most folks, it would seem the biggest need for a dog would be a window for the dog to hang its head out of to enjoy the breeze.

However, there are some more obvious needs, such as easy entry and exit for your dog, there are plenty of factors to consider, including the laws in your state or municipality regarding transporting a pet. Many require a pet or a pet carrier to be strapped down in some fashion.

Making it easier for your dog to get in and out of a vehicle helps when it comes to buckling them in.

Autotrader provided a list of its top seven vehicles that dog owners will want to consider:

  • Subaru Outback
  • Nissan Juke
  • Volkswagen Tiguan
  • BMW X3
  • Volvo V60
  • Kia Soul
  • Honda Odyssey

The Odyssey’s inclusion is probably not a great surprise: it comes with its own onboard vacuum cleaner. A dog can be a messy beast and the ease of cleaning as well as stain prevention is key to an “ideal” dog vehicle, according to Cesar Milan, a dog trainer featured on several reality-based television shows.

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He notes that keeping fur out of your family vehicle is best achieved by brushing your dog before that car ride takes place. He also suggests getting a carrier for your dog to help them feel more comfortable, although getting the correct sized carrier is extremely important, and safe.

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“You wouldn’t take your baby for a drive without a car seat, don’t take your dog without a crate,” he said.

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While the most of the list above may not be a surprise, they also may not be on your list of available vehicles. There are some basics to keep in mind when shopping for a dog-friendly vehicle. There are a number of desired features that can help make your vehicle choice a more pet-friendly one:

  • A rear lift gate allows your dog to jump in and out of the car easily; it also makes for more convenient loading in/loading out of pet carriers, crates and kennels.
  • Fold-flat seats create a spacious area for your dog to sit while keeping the actual surface of the seats clean from hair or scratches.
  • An airy cabin is especially beneficial for large dogs to stretch out.
  • Rear cargo-attachment ringlets help keep carriers and crates from sliding around.
  • A containment barrier/divider keeps your dog from jumping up to the front seat while the car is in motion.
  • A low ride height helps dogs — especially older ones — get in and out with ease.
  • Rear climate control keeps your dog cool and comfortable in transit no matter what the weather is like.
  • A sunroof brings fresh air and sunlight so you can keep your dog from hanging its head out of the window.
  • Underfloor storage gets your things out of the way so your dog can ride more comfortably.
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