Good cars for kayaks?

-- Last Updated: Sep-11-10 10:59 AM EST --

I have a chevy equinox with Yakima roof rack to cart around my kayaks. But the equinox needs some work so I'm weighing in the option of trading it in and getting another car. I wouldn't mind something a little lower.

So what is your (and your kayak's) ride? What would you get?

Btw I have a 17' QCC QX15 kayak and Necky manitou 14.


Small, but capable
The Mini has been a good hauler - the photos are from a two week road trip to Cape Breton from NYC. The boats are a Q400 and CD Pachena on Kayakpro EZ-Vee carriers. If I was buying now, I’d get the Clubman S, which has van-style doors in the back, and some more room.

Wow! That’s compact!!

The gear is in the boats, 2 people’s worth of stuff in the back with the seats folded flat, 32 mpg, lots of head room, who needs an SUV?

Hyundai Elantra Touring
31 mpg on the interstate. 35 mpg on the secondary highways.

Used to be in my Element

– Last Updated: Sep-11-10 2:06 PM EST –

I used to be in my Honda Element which I liked very much, but am even happier overall with my 2011 Kia Sorrento, which is lower and thus provides easier loading. 3rd row seating provides plenty of room for the kids, V6 helps when towing a kayak trailer, and the AWD provides a sense of security when driving onto muddy or gravelly beaches during an incoming tide.

Top choices that I’ve used/owned…
1. 2000 Saab95 wagon: low load height, excellent gas mileage, (27 HWY with boats)all leather, heated front and rear seats, sleeps two comfortably. 4cyl turbo makes excellent power. Do your regular maintenance and they’re great. Currently 165K miles. FWD with 4 snows goes anywhere except really deep snow.

2. Ford F150 5.4 v8, ext cab, 6’ bed. Will haul lots of boats and up to five adults comfortably. Perfect take out vehicle for a group of five. Boats up to 14’ without bed extender or racks.

3. '99 Subaru Forester w/5 speed. Excellent local hauler. Rock solid 26mpg no matter what. Spotty maintenance (boots/cv) and lousy highway ride. Cramped interior.

4. '05 Honda CRV. Reliable honda pedigree, narrow rack distance requires front and read tiedowns. Thule or Yakima bars needed. Stock bars only rated for 75 lbs. Gas mileage just ok, but 4cyl is more powerful than most.

5. 1989 Volvo740 WAGON. See saab. Only knock was rear wheel drive in winter. 4 snows and it goes mostly anywhere. Excellent vehicle that I sold my first year of paddling, but it would have been great.

I do religious regular maintenance on all my vehicles.

Depends on your driving habits and
how you define “good”. For me, good means minimum cost/mile driven over the length of ownership. Purchase price, taxes, insurance, mileage and maintenance all are factors to consider. I’ll be looking for another old Taurus wagon in a year or two. Awesome car-topper for my needs. I’ve had three.

Loved the view from the top
Wow, I’m surprised that you can get two touring boats on top. It doesn’t look awkward either. How was it driving with the kayaks on top?

It’s fine
I only notice the kayaks when in the wake of large trucks. The roof line is so far forward, I can’t actually see the boats in the windshield while driving (I do see them in the sunroof). This trip was the first time in 6 years I wished I had bought the higher horsepower Cooper S. But that was more about carrying 2 people and a lot of extra weight in luggage, boats and gear and still trying to pass on steep country highways. There was no problem on the freeway. The EZ-Vee carriers are solid, and carrying the boats flat minimizes any aerodynamic problems.

Good is something a little lower
Actually, I enjoy my equinox… It could get me to where I want to be, had plenty of space for gear, and with okay gas mileage. It is, however, still an SUV; although I’m tall at 6’3", it still was a chore to put the kayak on top after a long day of paddling…

focus or taurus wagon
I love station wagons and have seen lots of boats hauled by focus wagon

a different approach
Find a vehicle you like, then determine how easy it is to outfit it for cartopping. Almost any car can be a good candidate.

Ditto on the Focus wagon . . .
but they quit making them! After hauling boats several thousand miles on our Focus wagon, I totaled it (fortunately, without any boats on top) in a freak wash-out on a mountain road (no anti-lock breaks).

We now are very happy with a Volvo XC70 wagon, which is even better, in terms of weight and the amount of gear it can carry, all-time four-wheel drive and its safety features including internal gear tie-down points.

Mini Clubman

Plenty of room in the back for gear with the rear seats folded down.

I’ve got to look into the EZ vee or Keystone rack to be able to get two boats on top.

most any wagon
low but with room in the back for other gear. Which wagon will depend on $$$ and whether you will need to drive dirt roads.


– Last Updated: Sep-15-10 5:04 PM EST –

Mintjulep, I use two EZ-Vee to get two regular tubby kayaks on the Mini. I bought a Keystone V-bar but it's for narrower sea kayaks, skis, etc. and I can't use it. Let me know if you're interested - I have adapters for Mini crossbars.

The Volvo V90 left me smitten
and I came within an inch of doing it but, in the end, I couldn’t reconcile the fact that the loaded Taurus was literally half the price. Today, I’m glad I reconsidered. That car was really something, though! Last of the great rear-wheel drive Volvo wagons.

mini crossman!
Big improvement over the clubman. I don’t think Mini will be able to justify all three models in the future.

Be the first on your block!

low long roof
a wagon or mini, with it’s long roof would be good. But seriously, if I can get this long heavy boat on my little sport coupe with a really short roof with no attached rack and still cruise at hwy speed around trucks, you’ll find a way to make any car work…