Car topping question

Currently, we transport 2 kayaks (each about 14 ft long and about 42 lbs) on top of a Honda Element, using the factory rack with Thule Hullaports (J style), with stern and bow lines. This works well, except that the Element is a bit tall.

As a second car, we are considering a Suburu Impreza hatchback, and we are wondering if the same set up would work? Our thought is to use the factory cross bar kit with the Thule Hullaports. I think the cross bar spread is similar (about 30 inches) on both the Element and the Impreza. The Element has great options for bow/stern tie downs, and I’m uncertain if the Impreza has this.

We like the Element and plan to keep it, but the Impreza is lower, so it would be nice to have that option for transporting the kayaks. Would appreciate advice from anyone familiar with this idea. Thanks.


My kayak-hauler is a 2009 Impreza. Love it.

I installed loops under the hood for bow tie-downs. Some people use the tow-eye instead (accessible behind a panel on the front bumper). For the stern tie-down, I used a loop of cord attached to the (inside) rear-hatch latch, until I added a lightweight hitch and now use that. I’m not sure what options are available on later model years.

I’m not a big fan of the factory rack, but that would probably work. I use a Yakima rack on mine (stronger, more options, easier to install and remove).

I often carry surf skis (21 feet long), so usually use a set of Goodboy Vee-bars attached to the rack bars ( These give an full 8 foot spread, and works great for narrow performance kayaks: The downside is that it lifts the kayaks high enough you may need a steep-stool, if loading by yourself.

Greg Stamer

yes, it would work

– Last Updated: Jan-17-13 11:30 AM EST –

I use factory x-bars with Malone Autoloaders ( J-type racks), routinely transport two boats
Even though I had no problems with factory x-bars many folks would advise to purchase cross-bars from Thule or Yakima. Some folks that accessories stay put better on the rectangular bars ( Thule) better than on round ( Yakima)

Edit - mine is 2006 Impreza Wagon with tow package. I use the tow bar for rear tie downs, there are two holes in the metal bracket inside the lower radiator grill scoop that I use for front tie downs.