Car/ kayak hauler

-- Last Updated: Jan-12-16 3:39 PM EST --

I have to do something about a car this spring, for the fist time since 2007. I am presently driving two creaking cars that will have had their last mile driven out of them by the beginning of this summer - salvage only.

I need to stay under but not way so of the cargo capacity of a pre-2010 Subie Outback for my annual summer trip and need apt rails to hold the towers for a third party kayak rack. Maybe even a mechanical loader. I could live with one of these newer engines that will put the car into 2 wheel drive on its own for my driving needs now. I don't need a ton of power or boost, I am not a driver that guns it.

I also want to avoid dealerships that try to snow me, and don't want to go under a 72 month/100000 mile fancy warranty. I am OK with either a reasonably mature CV transmission or a sequential transmission.

I am living in the family of the small SUV's. Made some rounds this week and eliminated Honda CRV and Mazda CRX-5 on the dealership, the rails and/or the warranty.

I haven't stopped by the local Ford dealership yet, I know it is a good one, but its location is a question mark as is Hyundai. The two so far that leave me with a good dealership, decent rails and the warranty I want are Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV-4 (non-hybrid since I want to go certified used). I took a measuring tape to all of these cars and haven't crunched numbers, but I am going to be surprised if there is a big diff in cargo capacity between the RAV4 and the Forester.

Note on the Subie - can we skip the head gasket side thread? I have replaced both on my current car, one before its time and one later, so my due diligence has included some homework on the reliability of the heads on more recent Foresters. I and my bank account are aware of the risks there.

So - asking here - for the hauling of one or two sea kayaks, and figure that there eventually be a Hullivator or similar on one side - does anyone here have negatory comments on either of these as a kayak hauler? Aside from some torture figuring out how to replicate heated seats and the auto-dim mirror without jumping to 19 inch tires in the RAV4, it is looking more interesting to me than I had expected when I started hitting the lots.

Thanks all. I really hate buying cars but somewhere in a decade you gotta do it.

After much chasing around in 2014

– Last Updated: Jan-12-16 4:25 PM EST –

trying to replace our Ford Escape, and finding that the new ones were not made to carry yaks like our old one was and they jacked the price way out of sight;I bought my first ever new Subaru Forester.
I had to hunt to find one without the factory racks and finally did.
It has the pop out covers that expose threaded holes for mounting Yakima landing pads and their towers and bars without that nonsense mounted to factory side rails.
I have the 78 " bars and can easily carry three Yaks or two yaks and a canoe.
I am extremely happy with their variable speed drive transmission, the good clear unbstructed views out the windows and the great gas mileage.

I would never have bought it if I had to settle for the model with factory roof side rails, and would have kept searching, but as of now I am very happy with it.

Jack L

I have had two Foresters
a 2001 and a 2009 and neither came with siderails. Nor head gaskets that exploded.

The first we put 250000 miles on and the second is going on 175,000.

There ought to be some nekkid roof Subies around as JackL said.

We’ve hauled a Mad River Monarch and a sea kayak at the same time.

We just use standard Yakima towers with door clips( q99 I think) and bars.

I’m not into mechancics that well, but
The local mechanic down town, told me that the 2014’s went back to a timing chain rather than the belt that would break around 90,000 miles, which would cure what ever that problem was.

I know how to build houses, do wiring and plumbing, but when it comes to mechanics, I can change plugs, and used to adjust points.

If a vehicle breaks down on me now, I 'll just buy a new one.

Jack L

Consumers Reports Buying Guide 2016
Might be worthwhile to pick up a copy. They have a section on reliable used cars as well as used cars to avoid.

In the cars to avoid section, some Subaru models are listed, but none from Toyota. The Rav4 was listed in the reliability section as well as nonturbo Subaru Forester

Never owned a Subaru, but just replaced my much loved 2003 Toyota Matrix. Best car I’ve ever owned; nothing needed fixing ever, just oil changes every 3K. It’s still in the family, just not in my garage.

New vehicle is a 2016 Honda FIT, six speed, which can hold 52.7 cubic feet of cargo. Hullavator’s in my utility room; just need to get the Thule roof rack and have it all installed come March or April.

Thnx, didn’t realize about bare roof

– Last Updated: Jan-12-16 8:24 PM EST –

I was thinking I had to have the side rail unto which to clamp a tower. Now am wondering if the same option is available in some of the others.

Also did not even ask about the timing chain/belt, was assuming that Subie still had the dratted belt. Which is a four digit job. That said, I changed it at the recommended 105,000 miles and it was not being a problem.

(Rav4 has a chain.)

Bought a Forester this spring
I used the ACA discount and was able to get it with the fancy tech for a reasonable price. I run with 78" bars and haul multiple canoes and/or kayaks. Gas mileage tends to depend on load, temperature, and wind. Interior space seems bigger that the 04 Liberty that it replaced (The Jeep is still in the family & running well & 210k). I put Blizzaks on last month and, with our first snow since, I’m concerned that it runs too good. It’s comfortable, drives well, comes with rubber mats including for the rear and seat backs,has useful under floor storage so I don’t carry a strap tub, and I can sleep in it. Downsides: towing is limited to 1600 lb, the rear camera is crap, and the nav system is too bright at night.

I hear that our local dealer is having a hard time keeping them in stock.

(Oh, I have heated seats, auto dim, and 17" wheels)

An accessory to consider,
whether new or used vehicle, is a good floor liner if you have to deal with snow, salt, sand, mud, etc., especially for the driver’s side.

I opted for the WeatherTech digital fit floor liner and given the two feet of snow dumped here, have been very happy with them. They’re laser measured for each vehicle, fit perfectly, and are easily removed so the gunk can be washed off. No more salt-encrusted carpeting - not salt from sea water, but from the snowplows.

think again on transmission
Sequentials aren’t working out so well in terms of reliability. Many makers have dropped dual clutch and gone back to the basic auto transmission.

I have a 2010 Rav4 with a factory rack, bought new.

Great car. I carry 2 kayaks and 2 bikes with it. Bikes ride inside bungee corded to the side with front wheel off. I use a large diameter pool noodle on the cross bars, 18" long, slit 1 side so it slips on.


Stick with the RAV4. You can’t beat the long term reliability. No one ever complains about Toyota reliability.

Since ur looking for a used one, do some research on one of the RAV4 forums to help u determine what model year may be better than another. They’re very helpful there and often seem to know more than the dealer or mechanics.

Another model you might consider would be the Toyota Venza (sp?). That was Toyota’s crossover and it has a lower, more kayak friendly, roof height. They stopped producing it 9/15 due to slow sales, but I think it has a lot of advantages as a gear hauler.

Good luck in ur search!