Regarding putting a crate in the front seat: what happens in case of an accident when the airbag goes off…what effect does that have on a crate?
Also, it would seem to me (and I'm certainly no expert) giving a dog reassurance/affection..."oh, poor doggy, it's OK"...when s/he's in a nervous state would simply reinforce that nervousness. If you're talking to the dog in a high-pitched voice, telling him it's OK, aren't you telling him it's OK to be nervous?
When we were bringing our SOB dog (Some Other Breed; i.e., not a Basenji) home from the breeder in a crate and she started creating a fuss, a simple rap on the crate and a "tsst" from me and she settled right down.
I guess we were fortunate with Maxx...we used a seat belt harness with him and he never tried chewing on the harness or the seat belt.