For the Rackheads...

I recently purchased a 2015 Toyota Highlander. I found that to have side rails is an extra $1100. So I figured I’d save the dollars and go for an after-market rack instead. For the uninitiated out there this means finding a cross rack for a bare roof 2015 Toyota Highlander. Let me start by saying all racks are pricey in my opinion. That said, quality and reliability dictates the choice. I favor Thule racks. It seems that Thule’s rack systems, for bare roofs does not fit my make and model. Neither does Yakima or a whole host of others. Before you get all judgmental, remember this is for bare roof, not flush or raised rails. The only one I’ve come up with that claims to fit this particular combination is the Rhinorack 2500. I ordered one. Since I wanted an extra wide crossbar for 2 canoes, I ordered the HD or Heavy Duty bar. They produce a video that makes installation look like a breeze. Don’t believe it! It’s a nightmare. I finally got them on but now I’m wondering about reliability. If the tightening bolts loosen just a little, as most are want to do, the rack will not be very secure. Has anyone out there in the great paddling world had any experience with the Rhinorack 2500 system? If so, please let me know how it has worked out. BTW, they sell adjustable canoe stops that slide on the crossbar to secure the gunwales, but cost $50 per pair. Two canoes require 4 pair. For the math challenged reader, that’s $200.


well first
take out the headliner then drill…2 holes in your head, a big one in the bank account …

no idea
what this looks like but bolts are replaceable with quality full threaded ss bolts, nylock nuts with blue Loctite. If washers seem not bearing enough for security then size some aluminum strap from Home depot for a rectangular washer once drilling the hole. U-bolts with wider bottom straps …?

$1100 …is dinero real for a common option.

4WD ?
a 4WD Highlander is a road burner, all very nice vehicles. Happy motoring, RACKHEAD

Thule seems to believe all Higlanders come with flush rails. No worries.

You, or a body shop, can install Thule Top Tracks which will allow the connection with the 460 Podium Foot using the proper Fit Kit

If you don’t need the adjustability and want the 460 Poduum Foot in a set position then there is a Fit Kit for headlinered sheet metal applications but be sure to stay away from side curtain air bags. Again, a body shop might be best.

Either way you’re at a but less than half the Toyota $1100 option.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Are you being so cheap? You probably spent 39K on the the Highlander. The racks look OK they use clips like some of the Yakima Racks. Just buy the gunwale brackets and stop complaining. You want to play you have to pay as they say.

The roof of the Highlander is loaded with all sorts of wires and controls for all the airbags.

I wouldn’t trust anyone to drill that roof.

How about checking out a junkyard for a wrecked Highlander with a roof rack??

Good luck!


a wrecked …

Wires,sensors, are bundled.

A 5/16th’s hole is what ?

Once the liner is off there’s more room

than a …factory installer needs for $1100 side rails

Look up ‘trim headliner removal tools’

Hey, lighten up

– Last Updated: Dec-19-15 11:03 PM EST –

I'm not prone to defending DK (most of the time I can't even begin to comprehend his jibberish), but let's not abandon all common sense. He *did* say to remove the headliner first, which of course would eliminate the risk that you describe.

Oh, and as to what Marshall mentioned, it's perfectly possible to drill holes without the risk of damaging what's beneath. It just takes a little extra attention to detail, but knowing what's under there is still best (best to hit some reinforcing in the process).

Thanks for being so
sympathetic. Fact is I was replacing a Toyota Highlander that was totaled and I still owed a good bit on, so I have to economize where I can. Some of us can’t afford your attitude about money.

Marshall, you are correct
Thule seems to believe all Highlanders have flush rails. I have not been able to find a body shop or even a sun roof installer that will drill into my roof (I live in a really rural area so choices are limited). I have been shocked to find such a lack of racks for this popular vehicle even tho it has a bare roof. I didn’t figure on this being such a headache.

Thanks fourunner
I’m going to avoid that route if at all possible. It can bode poorly for resale as well.

Funny thing is
this model has pre-drilled holes that are accessed via a knock-out insert. No rack makers that I can find made a fit kit for this particular configuration. Go figure.

Are you sure ?
Both my ford Escape and now my Subaru Forester has those knockouts and Yakama sells a “Landing Pad” that bolts to the pre threaded hole in the frame.

They are rock solid

What ever you do, don’t drill through the roof. I was all set to do that with my 2014 Ram truck and found out that there are now air bags in the roof

Jack L

Maybe wait a bit
I remember another thread a while back where someone said they had checked for landing pads when they first bought a new vehicle and Yakima did not make them but that had been awhile back and someone else looked it up and Yakima did indeed make them now.

It’s a 2015, it takes time for the aftermarket companies to catch up.

resale resale resale

– Last Updated: Dec-20-15 9:18 AM EST –

aaaawwww BS BS BS

time you unload that wreck....

8 5/16th's holes in the roof taped from underneath, smeared with body epoxy, then tapped with paint..rusto or acrylic from ? ...

no one will notice.

then on the other paw,

buyer wil arrive exclaiming..


whatta buncha old women.

you wudnah believe what the C people say about this forum......

owns a Dodge

I refuse
to associate with these paddlers.

If there are holes, then a heavy aluminum angle (iron)

will fit on the roof. Deal is the vertical half needs be tall enough to accommodate a designed/acceptable/functional rack plane relationship to the roof curve.

Not catching air either with rack or upturned yak bows over the hood.

A plus on the custom scene beyond rock solid performance at lower costs is this attack angle custom for your roof…you have the opportunity to move bow way back for the interstate or up front standard for protection necessary driving areas. PYA !

Install Thule or Yakima tracks on the sides of your roof. That provides a solid base for several types of rack. Tracks cost one or two hundred dollars, and if you do not feel confident to install them yourself, a body shop could do it in an hour.

Might consider shop-built rack mounts
I already mentioned this on someone’s recent rack-mounting discussion. Your local welding shop can build you a set of rack mounts, custom-built to fit those mounting holes. To save some money, you’d supply the padding that goes between each mount and the roof, and you’d take care of the surface prep and painting of the mounts themselves.

I don’t know what the cost would be, but it could potentially be not all that much more than Thule/Yakima mounts because their stuff costs more than it ought to from the start (not that this bothers most of us when planning to use the car for years and years). You can offset much of the extra cost of fabrication by having them build the mounts to accept aftermarket crossbars of your choosing, such as 2x4s or steel pipe from the hardware store. If it were my car, I’d make the mounts permanent and the cross bars easily removable, just to save wear and tear on the threaded inserts in the roof, and so that the contact area could be well sealed to prevent any chance of leaks (not that that’s necessary - the auto makers don’t seal the mounting points on factory racks and who’s heard of one of those things leaking).

You said you also want gunwale brackets, and those could be built too. If you chose a generic material for cross bars like 2x4s, there’s a guy on pnet who likes metal working who might even offer to build a set of clamp-on, adjustable gunwale brackets during winter for the cost of material and shipping. :wink:

Anyway, that’s something to keep in mind if Thule/Yakima don’t come up with what you need sometime soon.