When shopping for a new car — or just admiring the shiny new models at the dealer or your local car show — it’s important to think of the needs of everyone in the family. And that, of course, includes the pets. It’s essential to consider their comfort and safety, as well as convenience for you in loading them in and out of the vehicle you choose.

Our pet-loving friends at jeanknowscars.com previewed the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and found several features on new models that can make your travel with pets easier — and your pet’s travel experience more comfortable and pleasant. Here are their reviews.

2016 Kia Sorento

2016 Kia Sorento: Separate AC Controls Keep It Cool in the Wayback

We often put our dog’s crate in the back of the car or van, but it can be hard to find a vehicle, even one with three rows of seats, that has climate controls to regulate the temperature back there. The all-new 2016 Kia Sorento does. Whether you keep the third-row seating up or fold it down, you can help your pet chill out (or stay warm) with adjustable AC settings. The feature is standard on the EX, SX and SX Limited models, all of which have the larger V-6 engine, and optional on the midrange LX. Equipped as we saw it at the Detroit show — as the SX Limited with all-wheel drive — it costs around $45,000. 

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150: New Features Make It Easier to Load Pets and Equipment 

Ford’s all-new, aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup is a big change for the most popular vehicle on the U.S. market. It’s lighter and more fuel efficient, and there are improvements for those of us who load mega bags of dog food and other pet equipment into the back. The four-door crew cab accommodates pets inside the back seat of the cab with a spacious and practical back-seat area. Loading heavy objects into the truck bed is a snap with new integrated rails that pull down from the left and right sides of the bed. There’s also an improved pull-down step and a box step on the side of the box. Result: Even short people can make maximum use of the carrying ability of this truck. The F-150 starts in the mid-$20,000s but can be optioned up to almost twice that number. 

2016 Land Rover LR4

2016 Land Rover LR4: Innovative Adjustable Seating With Great Pet Options

Sure, lots of vehicles have seats that fold, but this is one SUV with truly practical seating when you’re loading in four-legged passengers and their gear. The individual seats are tall and narrow, and you can choose to fold only one seat in the second row for easy access. You can do the same with the third row, leaving room for a crated pet to sit next to a comfortably seated human. The model we checked out was the LR4 HSE Lux with V-6 engine, priced in the $60,000 range, but you can get an LR4 starting just over $50,000. 

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe Hands-Free Liftgate

2015 GMC Yukon/Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban: Open the Liftgate With No Hands

Ford’s hands-free liftgate has been out for a couple of years on Ford’s small C-Max and medium-size Escape crossovers, and now the big utility vehicles from General Motors have it, too. Available as an option on the 2015 GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, this feature lets you just waggle your foot under the tailgate and — presto! — it pops open. That way you can keep hold of your pet the entire time as you load him into the back. The luxurious Yukon and its even bigger Yukon XL sibling are priced starting around $65,000. On the Chevys, the hands-free liftgate is part of the LT model’s Luxury Package; it comes standard on the top-end LTZ, which starts around $62,000. 

2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Walk-Around Space in the Second Row

What I always loved about my old minivans was the ability to move around freely between the seats. This Highlander SUV has a truly practical center console/cup holder in the second row. Made of sensible hard plastic, it snaps down to be a secure and stable place to put things. Just as quickly and easily, you can fold it up out of the way, giving you better access to your pets. The 2015 Highlander starts around $30,000. The Hybrid we saw at the Detroit show is priced starting at $47,500. 

2015 Subaru Outback Limited.jpg

2015 Subaru Outback Limited: Heated Rear Seats

Heated rear seats are found on many luxury cars, but the new Outback is one practical midpriced model that has dual-stage heated seats in the back. Subaru product specialist Angie Ransdell told us that she even ordered these on her older Subaru Baja as an aftermarket add-on. “The older dogs like to relax. It’s good for their arthritis, and I have a 17-year-old Pekingese,” she says. Rear-seat heating is found in the top Limited model, which also has the benefit of a power liftgate with memory height. The 2015 Subaru Outback Limited starts around $30,000. Of course, you need to make sure that the seats don’t get too hot for your pet, so consider placing a towel over the seat to protect his skin, and once the seat is warm, turn it off to prevent burns or overheating.

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