The Right Car For Your Dog

Has your family vehicle gone to the dogs? Take comfort in our handy, breeder-approved, consumer guide.

By | Posted: Mon Feb 28 00:00:00 PST 2005

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The Honda Pilot, another V6-powered, four-door SUV, scored well for its handling, ride, fit, and finish, plus an average 23 mpg. For extra roominess, the split third-row seat folds flat in this $27 to $30K vehicle. Rounding out the top trio, the Toyota Highlander is comfortable, quiet and roomy. Standard engine is a 2.4 liter four-cylinder, but a V-6 is also available. Base-priced from $24 to $34K, it earned its stripes for reliability, low depreciation and outstanding crash-test results.

Further down though still classified as "very good" are the Acura MDX, Infiniti FX35, Lexus GX470, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Toyota 4Runner, and Chrysler Pacificaall 6-cylinders with the exception of the 8-cylinder Lexus.

In the large SUVs, Consumer Reports recommends only three: the Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Sequoia, and Dodge Durango. Base-priced at $55K, the Toyota Land Cruiser is a V8-powered, 235 hp vehicle with permanent 4WD. Average fuel consumption is 18 mpg, and there's cargo room aplenty. The Sequoia is said to be even roomier than the Land Cruiser, but without the Cruiser's more comfortable ride. Base-priced from $32.5 to $45K, the V8-powered Sequoia may be equipped with rear or selectable 4WD. The Dodge Durango handles well, rides quietly, and may be equipped with a 210 hp V6, 230 hp V8, or 335 hp V8. Fuel economy lags at 15 mpg, but when it comes to towing capacity, the Durango shines. Base ranges from $27 to $35.5K.

Plus: Drives like a car, gets good fuel economy, yet has exceptional cargo space for its size. Minus: Cramped quarters if trav eling with large dogs, many dogs, or more than two people.

Despite the many mini-vans on the market, Consumer Reports confers its recommendation on only three: the Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan. The top-rated Toyota Sienna is powered by a 3.3 liter V6, and averages an economical 25 mpg. Cited as having the most comfortable and quiet ride of any mini-van, it comes equipped with either front-wheel drive or AWD. A 60/40 split rear seat folds flat into the floor for more cargo space. Base-priced from $23 to $37.5K.

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