best pick for vehicle to transport boat

I almost purchased a new Honda Fit last week to replace my 1997 Honda Odyssey which is what I have used for getting my canoe or kayak to the water for the last 15 years. The Honda dealer told me I could install a Thule roof rack to do the job but just before handing over the money, I called Thule and they told me the rack for the Honda Fit was NOT recommended for canoes or kayaks, only surfboards and bikes. Now I am wondering what car to buy… My son says he really likes his Jeep Wrangler but I would hate the poor gas mileage, I looked at a 2011 Honda CRV but can’t decide if I really need that large of vehicle, no passengers will be with me except my dog. Any suggestions? I thought I had arrived at the perfect solution with the Fit and now I am at a loss.

here you go Kim

– Last Updated: Apr-07-13 6:34 PM EST –

Here's an image from the same website:

That car is too good to pass on. Have you tried Yakima or Inno racks?

The pictures were great, now I know the Fit will be a good fit for me. I had never heard of the Inno rack system. Your post is MUCH appreciated!

you’re welcome!
I have had my eye on the Honda Fit for awhile now. Great car.

There is always a way!

Thule said what?

– Last Updated: Apr-09-13 12:04 AM EST –

Well I used there tool on there website to pick out my kayak rack setup from them. Here is a picture of my 2008 Honda Fit Sport which is older model but almost the same car.Pic of old Eddyline Nighthawk 16.
I now put up my NDK Greenlander Pro which is even bigger at 17' 9" weight about 55 pounds plus I have had my 54 pound Tsunami 14 footer on the rack with the other kayak. So TWO kayaks on it at same time. I also go kayaking with a women who has the newer version of the Fit which is the current model and she also use Thule rack for her 14.5 foot kayak.

Last summer I was at kayak event up in Canada and a guy pulled in with 3 kayaks on his Honda Fit. Think it was yakima rack.Quite a site. He had two 17 footers and a shorter say 13 footer on his.

I now still have the J-bars on but also a set of V-saddles which are way easyer to load a kayak on. I would never buy J-bars again but since I had them I use them when a second kayak is needed.

Is it possible
The dealer was responding to the possible weight you might be carrying? It’s possible the load of two plastic kayaks might exceed Hondas recommended max load. Also a very light car isn’t exactly the optimum canoe carrier for freeway driving.

I think the Fit is a great car but you might also check out the Hyundai Elantra GT.

Go to Yakimas website and see which car will allow your crossbars to be located far apart.

Cardelo uses a Mini to transport his kayaks. If anything I’d get the same rack extension he uses.

Small Car
Check out the Mazda 2 - similar in size and price to the Fit. They show a rack and Kayak carrier. Their stuff is usually made by Thule.

Reading Yakima Fit book
It’s no problem. The Elantra has 3" wider track, 2" shorter and 200lbs more. The Fit is an exceptional small car but for regular roof loads at highway speeds I’d want something bigger.

lots of people use the Fit to cartop

– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 11:34 AM EST –

Seems like an arbitrary point to determine at what point a car is too small. If you consider quality and resale I'm sure the Honda would win out.

I just hate to see people make car choices primarily on kayak carrying when there's no proven reason to do so and unless the car is going to be used primarily for kayak shuttling. Otherwise it seems like there are other parameters.

Thule vs. Yakima
I read somewhere that, specifically for the Fit, the Thule system is a better option: stronger and less damaging to the door sills than Yakima. That particular Fit needed to carry 4 white water kayaks at a time, which is up to 200lb.

I drive an Insight and before that had the first generation Prius and never had issues with one, two or sometimes three boats on top. Yes, the little engine will strain above 65mph even on the flats due to the added wind resistance, but if you stay below that speed it is no problem. You do want front and rear tie downs for long boats to control the pitch up and down mainly and for short boats - for safety, should something come loose.

If you drive kayaks and canoes for a living every day on the car you might consider a larger wagon, but for short drives like I do (mostly within the hour, 2-3 times a week) a small car is perfect. With the gas money I save per year over an SUV or a van/large car I can probably buy a new kayak each Christmas :wink:

which one did you like better?
Insight, or Prius?


– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 5:49 PM EST –

For heavy city traffic the Prius is more economical. The current generation especially, which is also more powerful than the Insight. We have now an '08 Prius and '11 Insight and the two get roughly the same mileage in light traffic, the Prius beating the Insight by a couple of miles per gallons in stop and go. The Prius is more spacious, the Insight has lighter steering and softer riding and fewer rattles...

Hard to tell... If you regularly use the rear seat for adults, the Insight is not a great choice as space is rather limited. It is cheaper by $5k USD new so money-wise it is a toss-up until you hit maybe 100-150k miles to break even due to the better fuel economy of the Prius.

The insight is somehow simpler and more driver-oriented, if you can say so for a car that is built for economy and not performance, so I like that. As long as you don't expect it to perform outside of its limits, it is a good car and, so far, has been mostly reliable... Pretty comfortable too, even on long drives (for the driver at least, not good for rear passengers even of they are 10 years old, due to very limited foot room in the rear). I suppose, by European standards it might not look so small, but even the Fit has more rear room, but the Insight drives nicer and is quieter. I think in Europe you guys get a hybrid Fit, which would be nice, but not sure if it makes financial sense there as there are a lot of other cheaper and almost as economical small cars to choose from, that are more fun to drive...

Works great for my boating though. I fit a 9" whitewater boat inside regularly, and/or some more on the roof... With 2 surf skis on top and two guys with gear inside for 2 days, we averaged 40 miles per gallon while keeping up with traffic on the highway (would have been closer to 60mpg without the boats)

Small is good

– Last Updated: Apr-10-13 6:32 PM EST –

I do indeed regularly carry two boats on top of a Mini, at highway speeds, often for long distances. The size/weight is truly not an issue. Here's my standard show-off photo:

If you think about it, most cars are about the same width, and overturning moments (due to crosswinds, say) are more a function of how high the boats are, rather than the weight of the car. That's why I never use J-racks. I had a high gust break a pair right off, but the boat in the V-bar carrier and the car itself didn't really move.

I think V-bars are much under rated as boat carriers, both for ability to move boats far apart on a narrow roof, and because the V cradles can be anywhere from 7-9 feet apart, which makes the boat quite stable.

In addition, a small car like a Fit or a Mini has a lower CG than a pickup or SUV, which also helps. BTW, the Fit is almost exactly the same weight as the Mini (both about 2500 pounds). I think it will be fine.

Impressive that you can squeeze a boat inside!

What you wrote makes sense given each manufacturer’s reputations and philosophies. Honda has always made more driver-oriented cars. Sochioro was a racer.

The one I’d like is the CR-Z, but they have to up the MPG to make it worthwhile.

Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix
I’ve been researching cars that would fit my lifestyle (kayaking, camping, biking, etc.) for a while. The Honda Fit was my first choice. Then I came across the Pontiac Vibe, the almost identical twin of the Toyota Matrix. They have the same engine; slightly different exterior styling.

The internal space is huge for such a small vehicle. Reviews for mechanical reliability are excellent—there are almost no problems with or complaints about this car; professional reviewers and consumers love them.

Professional reviewers say the Vibe is superior esthetically to the Matrix, which is good because the Vibe is cheaper in a used car.

Mitsubishi Mirage 2014
If I were looking at a new car (which is unlikely as my 10 year old one is still running fine), I would seriously consider the new Mirage. Fantastic MPG using basic physics instead of advanced gizmos. The car is light, aerodynamic, and modestly powered.

I know some of you folks enjoy your 80mph+ interstates, but for more reasonable speeds, huge horsepower isn’t necessary. I can tow a canoe with a bike, so even 70hp is enough to move it along at 65mph all day.

how about resale?
I’d bet on the Toyota, even though it’s basically the same car. This is what happened with the Geo Prism vs. Toyota Corolla.

I do agree with the reviewers re: aesthetics. Toyota puts out some ugly cars these days.

VW Jetta Sportswagon TDI
I have been driving a Jetta Sportswagon TDI for about 9 months now and I can’t say enough good stuff about it. The turbo diesel gives you plenty of power all around and I get about 38 mpg city with or without roof rack, same 38 mpg highway with 2 boats on the car, 46-47 mpg highway without boats and roof rack. It has a long low roof line for easy loading. When I bought 2 year old TDI lease returns were only going for $2000 less than sticker on a new car.

If you have tracks for a rack installed, you can have a quickly removable rack that is mounted on a base solidly bolted to the roof. I have Thule tracks under the Yakima rack on my truck. I mounted the tracks farther apart than the instructions said. The reason for their spacing was reinforcing below the roof. I drilled though both the roof and the reinforcing, and the lower hole held the end of expanding nut stable while its middle expanded between the two layers.

For liability reasons, I do not recommend not following directions.