Dogs are better off lying in the car than standing...My 30 inch greyhound male rode in everything from an old Escort to a Mini Van, to an Exploreer, but he knew he had to lay down when he got in the car. He was taught that from the time he was a puppy. Your friend should find a reliable vehichle that she can afford and teach the dogs to lay down once in if she is not going to crate them.
If anyone else is looking, then the Honda Element has been discontinued, but many dealers have some '12 models on the lot. And I have an '03 Element that when it's time to replace I have a few people who want to buy it outright from me.
I wish more vehicles offered the flooring that's plastic or rubber, and not carpet the way the Element does. I totally hate floor mats when they get wet or snowy, and the way separate mats move all over carpet when they age.