Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A dog is shown in the front seat of a car.

The Best (and Worst) Performance Vehicles for Your Pup

The vast majority of car reviews and analyses out there tend to focus on humans – helping you find the best vehicle if you have a big group of friends or a family. That’s fine, I guess, but for those of us who don’t care about kids and just want to take a road trip with our furry family, those reviews aren’t always a lot of help. Fortunately for you, I’m here to throw aside meager concerns like legroom for rear-seat passengers or entertainment options for kids – I’m going to focus on what really matters: your dog.

While a lot of people choose a pretty average crossover SUV or similar model for transporting one’s pooch, there are also some great options out there if you want to experience an exhilarating drive and bring along your four-legged companion. Just remember that you should always drive cautiously when you have your dog along – they can be a major distraction, and if you’re going too fast, that can cause a serious catastrophe. As long as you’re careful, these are five of the best performance vehicles you can choose as a dog owner – and a few to avoid.

Best Choices – Porsche Cayenne Turbo

To be honest, pretty much any Porsche Cayenne can be a good pick for a pup-friendly performance vehicle, but if you’re already going this far, then you might as well go all the way and get the Cayenne Turbo. Porsche’s crossover SUV model is the perfect size for pretty much any dog – though if you have a Great Dane, then you might need to lower the rear seats. Regardless, with four doors and a rear gate, it’s easy to get your dog into and out of this beauty.

But any crossover can work well from that perspective – what sets this apart is that it’s a Porsche and offers all the performance you’d expect from that. The Turbo has a 541 hp engine that lets it go from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds. That kind of power and speed is fantastic for any situation, but the SUV design and functionality make it perfect for hitting the road with your furry friend.

Best Choices – Tesla Model Y

Whether you’re a fan of electric vehicles and Tesla or not, there’s no denying that the Model Y is a fantastic option if you want heart-racing performance for you and your pooch. For starters, the Long Range AWD version of the Model Y has seating for up to seven passengers, giving you and your hound plenty of space, even if you have a large dog and need to have a crate along. In terms of performance, the Long Range version gets about 330 miles from a full charge and can go from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds. Of course, you can pick the Performance model, which loses about 30 miles of range, but it can go from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

Perhaps the single best thing about Tesla models, as a dog owner, is the Pet Mode function. If you need to run into a store or into your house real quick and want to leave your dog in your vehicle, then you can activate Pet Mode. This keeps climate control going so your dog stays safe while disabling drive features so they can’t accidentally move the vehicle – something you can’t do with a gasoline car. It even displays a message on the large central screen, so people know your pup is comfortable and safe.

A white 2021 Honda Civic Type R is shown from the front driving on a highway.

Best Choices – Honda Civic Type R

If you have a small dog, then the Honda Civic Type R can be a great choice – just keep in mind that this isn’t as spacious as the previous two picks. One particularly notable feature of the Civic Type R is that it features a 6-speed manual transmission, something that’s rare even among performance vehicles these days. It’s also a four-door hatchback model with fold-down rear seats, so while it might not have the kind of interior space as some other great options, you can still easily get your dog into and out of this one.

Best Choices – Ford Focus ST

First things first: the Ford Focus ST is no longer available here in the US, so if you want a new model, then you’ll need to keep looking. If a pre-owned vehicle would work for you, however, then this is a fantastic option, and you can look back to 2018 for the last model year that was available. The words “Ford Focus” might not evoke deep-rooted sensations of power and speed, but the Focus ST was a solid option that delivered a great driving experience.

It had a four-door hatchback design, which means your pup will have plenty of room inside, and it’s easy to get your dog in and out – even through the back. In terms of performance, the 2018 model features a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 252 hp, and it can go from 0 to 60 in about 6.3 seconds. That might not quite compete with something like the Porsche Cayenne, but you’ll find this beauty at a much more budget-friendly price.

Best Choices – Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

If you’re one to hit the trail with your dog and explore the great outdoors together, then few options are as made-to-order for your preferences as something like the Jeep Wrangler. While the Wrangler has a reputation as one of the best options around for going off-road, it’s not exactly a powerhouse of a vehicular performance. For years, people have asked for something with more “oomph” and for an option that is as powerful as it is durable.

With the Wrangler Rubicon 392, Jeep has finally heard the requests of their customers and delivered a Wrangler that one could sincerely describe as a performance model. The Rubicon 392 is powered by a 6.4L HEMI V8 engine that absolutely roars to life, delivering 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque to let this Wrangler go from 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds. If you want a vehicle that perfectly combines bold performance with rugged capability, and has plenty of space for your canine companion, then this is the one.

An orange 2023 Chevy Corvette Z06 is shown parked in an empty lot.

Worst Choices – Chevy Corvette

Most people wouldn’t necessarily look for a sports car when trying to get a performance experience that can bring their dog along, and there’s good reason for that. The mid-engine Chevy Corvette is one of the worst possible choices if you want to bring your dog with you. There are no rear seats, so your pooch has to ride up front; this is dangerous for you and for your dog, plus the controls between the two seats are just begging to be stepped on by the paws of a nervous traveler. This is an amazing sports car that’s perfect for two people to hit the road in, but it’s not designed for your dog.

Worst Choices – Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

If you’re looking at models that are out of production, like the Ford Focus ST, then you might come across the sleek and stylish Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. It’s a gorgeous sports car with a 237 hp turbo engine and a responsive transmission that lets it go from 0 to 60 in about 4.2 seconds. That’s great – but this is a terrible option for a dog for much the same reason as the Corvette: it has a mid-engine design with no rear seats. If you want a car you can zip along the coast with a human passenger, then this is a great pick, but it’s not for your pup.

Worst Choices – Mazda MX-5 Miata

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a fantastic sports car that delivers incredible speed and performance, with a beautiful and stunning design at a surprisingly approachable price. It’s light and has a 181 hp engine that really lets it fly along the road with nearly perfect balance; it’s responsive, handles beautifully, and is just incredibly fun to drive. And it’s only got two seats, no back seats here, which means you don’t have to look at a mid-engine model to find a vehicle that’s a terrible choice for your dog. They may say that a Miata is always the answer, but it wasn’t made with the needs of your pup in mind.