Compact car to haul my kayak

I have a 10ft 40-something pound Lifetime SOT. My old Focus wagon is nearing the end of life. But with SUV prices going nuts, About all I can afford is a compact car. I am looking for suggestions and good model where I can strap my yak on


My Honda Fit easily carries my 17-foot CD Prana.


New or used? Price range? The Hyundai Elantra GT (wagon) may be worth a look, though I think it was discontinued in 2021.

Like to keep it under 20k…under 18 would be even better…lol

Mini Cooper Clubman or Countryman with Turbo. Holds a 16’ Canoe & 17.5’ sea kayak. My wife says she’s always in the shade with her two boats on the car. Kinda nice in a deluge too.

Oh, she says the Turbo helps make the boats more secure. Riiiiiiight! :wink:

See you on the water,
Marshall Seddon
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
845-229-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile
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I haul an 18’ and 16’ kayak on a Mazda CX5. A fruend used to haul her daughter’s 20’ racing kayak on a Smart Car. Vehicle size
does not matter, it’s your rack arrangement.

Look at a used Hyundai Santa Fe or Tucson. I had a Sante Fe and loved it, only sold it because a prior owner had not kept the frame clean and it was showing structural rust. They are really well built, reliable and comfortable cars. The only reason I did not buy another is I wanted a manual stick, which Hyundai no longer offered, but Mazda did.

Also liked that you could open the rear hatch window separately from the hatch which made it simpler to get stuff in and out of the back when a boat was on the roof rack.

And used Hyundais sell for less than more popular brands like Honda and Toyota.

I would love to have this as an option.

I have several times regretted that I did not have the patience ro get a new Santa Fe in 2015 instead of the Mazda. By patience I mean that I made two trips to the local Hyundai dealer and was unable to get a salesperson to attend to me after waiting 90 minutes the first time and over 2 hours the second. Not like I was a stranger to them since they had been servicing my prior Santa Fe and Subaru for me for 5 years. They were crowded, but I also could not help but notice that single men and couples were being better serviced than I was, even ones who arrived after I did. So I got pissed and walked across the road to the newly opened Mazda dealer who treated me like royalty, even got a female sales associate so I was spared the usual patronizing and snotty attitude I have encountered in the past at all-male staffed dealerships.

The Mazda 6-speed has been a blast to drive, super reliable and gets great MPG. But I hate the egg shape of it that limits cargo access, creates a nasty blind spot on the rear diagonal and makes judging the car’s corners and clearances almost impossible with the curved windows and vague footprint. If I decide to abandon my love affair with the manual stick my next car will probably be a Santa Fe.

The Hyundai had a solid feel, more so than other marques I or partners have owned or rented (Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Toyota, VW, etc.) I felt more like a BMW or Volvo (have owned both.) Very smooth and quiet highway car for long trips with a perfect seat and pilot position. I did not appreciate that independent rear window until I know longer had it. The stupid air foil and radio antenna protuberance on the Mazda makes even cracking the rear hatch impossible once a boat is on the rack, even though there is clearance from the aftermarket Thule.

I also dislike that you can’t fold the rear seats fully flat in the Mazda, though that was also true in the 2003 Santa Fe – don’t know if they have fixed that.

I tend to judge a car on various factors, which include how easy it is to parallel park it and how I feel after a 10 hour solo interstate drive in it. The Santa Fe scored very high on both. In contrast, in the 2002 Outback I always felt half deaf (from wind and engine noise) and beaten with a club when I got to my destination.

On the parking factor, I can parallel park my 22’ long box truck conversion camper (side mirrors only) in two precise moves and get it 4" from the curb every time. After 6 years I still struggle to get the danged Mazda respectably parked in front of my house on the street on a daily basis. I love boxy vehicles but they are a dying breed. If Volvo would re-issue the 1992 740 wagon (but with front wheel drive) I would buy one in a heartbeat. Best freaking kayak loadable auto I ever had.

My Prius with Yakima rack works well as a boat hauler.

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I have a 2020 Elantra GT, and it’s a good option to consider. They stopped selling them in the USA for the 2020 model year, so you’d have to look for a used car. But like many hatchbacks, they didn’t sell well versus small SUVs, so their resale value might be poor - i.e., you might find good prices on used ones. The base car is well equipped and Hyundai’s nowadays have excellent reliability according to JD Power (too few Elantra GTs were sold to rank them individually). It’s the same car as the Hyundai I30 in Europe, but we get the same drivetrain as the USA base 2020 Hyundai Tuscon.

You might want to look at a Kia Soul. They are comfy and have a nice flat roof and in my view a cheerful personality…and a 10 year powertrain warranty. I think a new one may be within your budget.

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Get a 4 or 5 year old Subaru Crosstrek and take advantage of the raised rails to attach a Yak or Thule system.

If you are looking for a car good on gas, check out the Corolla hybrid. This thing is amazing. The regular Corolla comes in a bit less, but Toyotas last. Hyundai’s have a problem with catching fire, and apparently now so do the Chevy Bolts.