Advice on Toyota Matrix Roof Rack

-- Last Updated: Jan-07-05 10:44 PM EST --

I'm shopping for a new car, and I'm considering the Toyota Matrix as a shuttle vehicle. It is a station wagon, but with a roof line that slopes down. Thule's rack for the Matrix has some sort of extender for the rear towers, so that the rack is level, even though the roof slopes.

I'm a Yakima guy and I'd like to build the new rack system around my curent components. Has anyone put a Yakima rack on a Toyota Matrix? Any advice or cautions for me? I'd be hauling two 16' canoes, or a canoe and a 14' Rec Kayak. Did you just let the canoe nose up into the air? Are there possible bumper tiedowns, or did you put on the straps that come out from under the hood?

The Matrix is also sold as the Pontiac Vibe, with a purely decorative roof rack. So the Matrix has the roof channels, even though it doesn't come with a rack. Has anyone tried to tie a rack foot into the channels rather than using door clips?

Thanking you in advance.

Check Saris, too
I’m not sure if they have a rack for the Matrix, but Saris racks are much nicer than either Thule or Yakima. They go on and off quickly, too.

I just went through this…
I bought an 02 Focus Wagon recently and went to rack it and got a different solution from my locals gear store than from the Thule website. If you go to the Thule website it suggests the 450 roofpak that utilizes the factory rack. The Thule book (which is much more detailed than the website) that my local shop had suggested a combination of that set-up and a set of towers that mount seperate from the factory rack on the front above the front doors.

I know you are wanting to stick with Yakama, and i tell this to suggest that maybe Yakama has a more extensive offering if you talk to one their dealers. I also looked at the Vibe (same car), and the roofline as related to paddling was part (very small) of what turned me away. That being said I think that is a great car, and being Toyota, you can’t go wrong.

Good Luck,


Saris does have racks for this car!
A quick look at gives the clip style specific to the matrix.

Curious to know if anyone else has demoed/bought this vehicle for paddling specific pursuits. Seems like a good alternative to the outback, which runs about 10K higher and gets significantly less milage.

For what it’s wprth
I purchased a Vibe last May (and like it very much so far) and, thanks to the shop where I purchased my Loon 111 kayak I easily attached it to the “decorative” (and standard equipment on the Vibe, but not the Matrix) with two 1" wide nylon straps with no problem. It might work with two boats but I’m not sure

What it won’t work with is…
…sea kayaks. The rack on the Vibe is set way too far back on the car to be able to carry a long boat. I expect that it would be really problematic it a strong crosswind.

My wife and I
were shopping for a near car last year and were considering the Matrix/Vibe but didn’t like the rack options through Thule or Yakima for these vehicles. We decided to go with the subaru forester instead.

A canoe partner of mine has a Vibe. It has a really long span because it uses Q-towers that clip on at the front doors and then the LowRoders that attach to the rear factory rack. It gives it a larger span than my Dodge Intrepid.

Yakima has a set up for the matrix as well. Q83 clips in front(same as Vibe) and Q116 in the rear.

Vibe owner
I’ve had our Vibe for a year now. As a “Yakima Guy” as well, I already own an assortment of towers for the different vehicles we’ve had. I realize the Matrix does NOT have a factory installed rack up top so you may very well get away with purchasing four of the same towers (Q Towers or the newer version). My Vibe requires different towers up front then on the roof rack.

That said (and admittedly confusing) the Yakima system works very well for my boat and ended up being level and sturdy using Mako saddles up front and Hully Rollers in back.

Ford Focus Hatch Back
For what it is worth, I comfortably haul my 18 ft Falcon S-18 on my Ford Focus Hatch Back. Hae a Bearcrafters rack with an extra bar (brace) between the fore and aft cross bar. Each of the two latches per side apply to the opening of the two doors. Easy to load and unload with car models that size. Go for the Matrix over the Ford Focus. My car has been recalled way too many times. Good luck Mak

Does that antena get in the way???
Looking up close at a matrix on the drive to work this am, and I notice that they have the antena placed dead center in the back of the roof.

Anybody have any experience installing/using a rack on a car with this setup??

People use a shorter Honda S2000 antenna
The antenna does bend down, or some people just unscrew it when boats are on the roof (and listen to CDs).

People replace it with a shorter antenna, such as the one from the Honda S2000, which is also flexible.

The other solution would be to always carry two boats.

One up-side-down canoe should go fine over the shorter antenna. Removing the canoe might be tough. Kayaks might be hard too, depending how much you want to bend the antenna.

I am the original poster and I decided to buy a Subaru Forester and not the Matrix/Pontiac Vibe.

I got a good deal on a great low-mileage used Forester.