Cars to carry Kayaks?

I have a Subaru Legacy and can carry my kayak without a problem because there is no satellite radio antenna. But, the new 2014 Subaru Legacy has the antenna and therefore can not push the kayak up on the roof rack. I am 5ft 4 in and a larger car such as a Subaru outback to tall. Any suggestions for a different car or roof rack? Thanks so much.

Have the antenna installed in a
different location. Shops that do radio installation should be able to do this for a tolerable amount of money. Also, check out the rack situation on 2014 Outbacks. Check the Yakima and Thule books for 2014 installation details.

Jetta Sportwagon TDI
I have had mine for 1 year and 10,000 miles and would not trade it for the world. I have been carrying two surfskis, each over 20 feet or our two 16’ plastic kayaks (WS tsunami and a CD Sirocco) with no problems. I have had 2 shoulder surgeries in the last 2 years so I needed something with a low roof and this car fit the bill.

The turbo diesel engine has a ton of power and gets close to 40 miles per gallon. I was very tentative about laying out the extra money for a diesel but I am very happy I did and know I have made the right decision.

We were originally going to get the Hyundai Elantra Touring but Hyundai changed the design last year and it has become worthless for hauling kayaks. I am really glad they did this because I love my Sportwagon that much.

Good luck with whatever you decide to buy and hope you are as happy with your decision as I am with mine.

One negative - no towing capabilities.

I have a 2014 Suburu Forrester
and the antennae just unscrews.

I was surprised to find that the radio still gets reception with the antennae off, so we just leave it in the glove compartment

Jack L

Low car for kayak
I have a jetta diesel sport wagon with euro rails that has 125k on it that is very easy to load my kayaks on including our 20ft tandem kayak and the surf skis I used to own

A roller loader attached to the rear hatch makes loading them easy

See this for a photo of my wife loading our Kaskazi tandem on a much taller Element

Is there such a thing as a too tall car
if you have a stepladder?

I have a Toyota Tundra with cap and a Forester and a Ridgeline.

I am 5’4". I carry a ladder.

I have a satellite antenna…
…and it’s not a problem. I carry my kayak off center over the passenger side of my wagon and I’ve not had an issue. I hear you about roof tops. My car is nice and low and that makes kayak loading so much easier.

Same here with my Dodge Ram Pick
up with a cap.

Right now I am carrying two long sea kayaks and a 17 foot canoe.

I also use a step ladder in strapping and unstrapping them.

Jack L

…listen to the kayamedic
A small step up rig is all you need, and have the rear bar as far back as possible.

If you want to be able to park in hotel parking garages and other high rise parking structures with low hanging pipes and lights, etc. Loved my old Honda wagon, where I could zip in and out of parking garages with low ceilings and not worry about my surfskis getting crunched.

not so much
parking underground. I got down into the Boston Commons garage without a bump with two kayaks.

Not so good and bump free trying to get out. And the prospect of unloading kayaks with impatient Mass drivers waiting for you is kind of daunting.

Fortunately I dont have to worry about garages too much though it enters my mind when going to Ottawa and finding a place to stay or any big city on the way.

kayak carrying
It may help to load from the rear. Any vehicle can carry kayaks. With skill you can carry five. Consider a stepstool or ladder. The racks that come with SUVs are not too serviceable.

the 2000 subaru legacy

Cars for carrying Kayaks
Yes I do have a suggestion for you and have wrestled with this ever since purchasing our kayaks.

We first used my wife’s SUV and needed to carry a step stool to get them on top of our Thule J racks.

What I discovered is a station wagon is the way to go they are so much lower to the ground.

Plus I personally much prefer the ride and handling of a car - which a station wagon is plat formed on than an SUV which is more " truck " like.

One problem slim pickings in US. BTW not so in Europe where wagons are very popular. What we settled on is a used but very good condition Saab 9-3 sportcombi wagon. The height must be a foot lower than SUV.

Other choices that may work well are the VW Jetta Wagon or if price is not an issue the Cadillac CTS Wagon.

I trust this will be of help, let me know how you make out.

Use your old Legacy.

– Last Updated: Jan-15-14 12:41 PM EST –

I am one of those that keeps a vehicle for a long time. Keep them well maintained as long as you can and they stay reliable. I just don't like car payments and it is a lot cheaper to keep the old one's running. If it weren't everyone would have a new car...

Anyway, I too have found the wagons are the best for hauling and car topping boats (and a lot of other stuff) We have a 1986 Subaru 4x4 GL wagon that worked great but got rusty so retired to the farm. I have a 2000 Outback Wagon that works great as the roof is still low and easy to put boats up on. Our newest vehicle is a 2006 LL Bean Outback Wagon which has a little bit higher roof but still pretty low. No antennas anywhere, in the glass I guess. Use Thule bars on them all, really like them.

I also have a 94 Toyota Land Cruiser FZJ80 that I haul on sometimes. It hauls a ton more gear but is lifted and so the roof is pretty high up. I usually load from the back and slide them up the rear spoiler (stout steel spoiler). Best thing about older vehicles is you don't have to worry about scratches and dings which makes loading and unloading that much easier. Still take care but less worry.

Stick with the older generation legacy or similar wagon. At least prior to 2010 on the Subarus, they were much more wagon like. The newer are more crossover/suv like. Maybe a Subaru Crosstrek? I don't know how high the roof is on those?

I also had an older TDI and as the earlier reply said, they do have good power. I consistently got 40-41 mpg in town and 49-50 on the highway. I drove it till I couldn't anymore, running and rust wise.

Good luck.

I will add
the worst thing about hauling on top of the wagons is access to gear in the cargo area. I find the lift gate hits whatever you have on top. Be it a cargo box, boat or other gear, the top rear corner of the lift gate hits loads on top and won’t fully open.

This is not bad for day trips but for extended trips a good long drive away it can be a hassle. Especially camping and keeping gear in the back. The Thule bars raise it a bit but not much. The Land Cruiser does not have this as the gate is level with the roof when fully open and not up past the roof like wagons. Depends on the type and size of boat, type of roof rack setup and lift gate design.

Tall car/truck problem solver
I carry kayaks on my F150 with a cap and used a ladder until one day with a wet boat and feet I slipped and almost dropped my newest boat. Not wanting that to happen again, I bit the bullet and bought a set of Thule Hulavators. They swing down along side the truck, so you load the boat about at waist level. They are very well designed, work well, adjust to any size/shape boat, and come with all the straps and tie downs you need. You can also get locks to keep your boats secure. They are so easy to use that when we are camping I store my boat there instead on leaving it on the ground. It is a pricey endeavor, but EMS periodically puts all Thule stuff on 20% off, and they are built to last forever…

never had that problem w/my subaru

No need for that with trucks
With a truck, all you need to do to make loading any boat easy is a way to allow sliding the boat up there. This is easy if you put one cross bar at the very rear (whether on a bed-mounted cross bar or a cross bar mounted to a topper). I’ve said this a bunch of times over the last few months when this topic comes up, but if I could load an aluminum Jon boat onto the roof of a full-size van via sliding it up on a loading bar when I was still a scrawny kid weighing just 135 pounds (and it was pretty easy, actually), any adult male can do the same with something as light and easy to carry as a kayak. That’s not to say a Hullavator is a bad thing if that’s the method you want to use, but on a truck, nothing is stopping anyone from devising a method that’s just as easy and far cheaper.

I’m Tempted to Drill Holes through the
Roof of my 2000 Eldorado to install Yakima Landing Pads. The roof top is real low and loading/unloading a 21 foot long surfski or outrigger should be a piece of cake. Just don’t know which pads to install, since there are quite a few of them: some you have to remove the headliner and some you don’t? I don’t want to drill blindly through the roof and damage any wires, etc. Anyone drill through a Caddy roof?