- ![Main-Electrics_Charge](http://buyersguide.carsoup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/00-Main-Pets.jpg)Riding in cars with pets is a common occurrence in today’s animal-centric world. Keeping them safe should be every owner’s top priority. These 2014 models make safety a snap … and keep vehicles cleaner, too!
Dogs don’t get their rep as “man’s best friend” for nothing. We use them for therapy, for service, for companionship. They are even allowed on many college campuses during exam weeks in an effort to calm stressed students. In the United States alone there are an estimated 70 million pet dogs, according to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. More than 60 percent of pet owners considered their pets to be family members in 2011, according to the same survey. And as with any family member, when the family goes on a vacation the dogs often come along for the ride. Many people, however, don’t fully realize the dangers that driving with a dog or other pet animal may pose.
Dogs can be a huge distraction to drivers, with more than 50 percent of people petting a dog while driving, 17 percent of people holding a dog in their lap while driving and 3 percent of people taking a photo of their dog while driving, according to the 2011 AAA / Kurgo Pet Passenger Survey. Because 21 percent of injury crashes involve distracted driving, according to a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, this issue should not be taken lightly.
“Some of the things people don’t think about is you can have a very minor fender bender and if your airbag releases and your dog is on your lap, that is going to be tragic,” says KC Theisen, director of pet care issues at the Humane Society of the United States. A dog that weighs just 10 pounds can emit 500 pounds of force in a crash that occurs at 50 mph, according to the pet passenger survey. To increase safety and comfort for pets and drivers, car manufacturers have begun to equip new models with features that accommodate man’s best friend.
2014 VOLVO XC70
A notable feature of this model is its pet barrier system that prevents animals from climbing into the front section of the vehicle. The barrier sits between the two front seats of the car and serves as an impenetrable divide between front and rear passengers. Unlike a lot of pet barriers that you can purchase on Amazon.com or similar sites, this system has been crash-tested by Volvo and can be professionally installed by the dealer. Another pet-friendly feature is the blind spot warning system that will alert the driver when an object such as a small pet is in the car’s blind spot, potentially preventing a tragic accident.
- ![XC70_Feature](http://buyersguide.carsoup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/02-Volvo.jpg)Heads up! The Volvo XC70’s blind spot warning system detects pedestrians, vehicles and pets that dart into your path.
**2014 HONDA ODYSSEY**
New to the 2014 Odyssey is the HondaVAC, the first ever built-in car vacuum. Traveling with pets can get messy; fur gets on the seats, bone bits get wedged into the floor and dirt gets tracked throughout the vehicle. The HondaVAC makes cleaning up after these muddy mutts much less of a headache. The vacuum works continuously when the car motor is running or for up to eight minutes when the engine is off.
2014 SUBARU FORESTER
When purchasing this car, buyers are given the option of adding on many pet-friendly features. For example, car buyers can purchase the 2014 Subaru Forester dog guard/compartment separator. Similar to Volvo’s pet barrier system, this accessory can be installed in the rear of the vehicle to prevent pets from climbing into the front section of the car. Additionally, Subaru sells a cargo tray that helps keep the cargo area free from damage. The tray can be removed and washed easily.
2014 MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER
The 2014 Outlander is unique amongst competitors because its back two rows of seats can fold down, providing lots of room for large dog crates. Car buyers who show dogs are especially interested in cars with lots of cargo room that can accommodate big crates, says Scotty Nicholas, general manager and partner at Mullinax Ford, Orlando, Fla.
- ![Outlander_Feature](http://buyersguide.carsoup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/03-Outlander.jpg)The 2014 Outlander also comes with an under-floor storage area, so your pet won’t have to compete with excess luggage or other travel necessities.
**2014 HYUNDAI EQUUS**
This car model is equipped with a rear console storage unit that can either cool or heat its contents. This device would work well for storing dog food or medicine during longer car rides. Theisen recommends always having food and water on hand when traveling with animals. Treats can help entice a pet from a compromising situation, such as a small dog that refuses to move from the driver’s feet. Moreover, food and water are handy to have on hand for the general comfort of your pets.
- ![Equus_Feature](http://buyersguide.carsoup.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/04-Equus.jpg)Additionally, the 2014 Equus has three different temperature zones: for the driver, passengers and rear passengers. Drivers can therefore ensure that their pet is always traveling at a comfortable temperature for its specific needs.