High Mileage cars and or SUV's

With the price of gas getting out of hand and since I’m driving a 5 year old SUV (Saturn Vue)I suspect within the next year I’ll be in the market for a new vehicle. Must be able to carry an 18 foot kayak and a 19 foot surf ski. Also looking for at least 30 mpg. I do quite a bit of driving, about 35 K a year.

Any suggestions?


I don’t know if you’re going to get 30mpg+ out of an SUV but if I was going to buy a new one I’d go with a Toyota Rav4, 2 wheel drive.

Toyota Matrix
The best my buddy gets with his RAV4 when hauling boats and gear is mid-20s. I think he gets 27 when unladen.

I’ve been very happy with my 2007 Toyota Matrix, getting 30mpg when hauling two 18’ sea kayaks and camping gear. Minus the boats and roof rack, and cruising at 65mph, I often get 37mpg.

After driving an SUV, I suppose it’s hard for people to go back to ‘normal-sized’ cars. But I don’t really see why anyone needs anything more than a decent compact wagon or hatchback. We routinely do weeklong kayak/camping trips in ours, and on Monday morning I’m back to sippin’ fuel.

Happy Shopping!



Yup on the Matrix.

– Last Updated: Jun-10-08 11:50 AM EST –

Hey Andy, I just got a 09 Matrix,and love it. I really loved my RAV4 but the around town mileage sucked,great on a trip though,but who takes them nowdays. I am getting 26-27mpg around town with 2.4L and 5 speed. No long trips to get trip mileage,yet. They still make the 1.8L for even better mileage,but 26HP drop. It has enough room in the back with seats down for camping gear & paddle gear.I love the hard plastic backing with rubber strips the cargo area,and rear seat backs have ,no worries about wet gear. Have Yakima rack with 66" bars ,and can haul 2 canoes{PS don't get factory rack,no spread,and to far rearward}. Nice & low to load boats,rack being wider doesn't create a head bag problem they way it mounts on. Only thing I don't like is I can't open the rear hatch with the boats on.{spoiled by RAV side opening door},but it has side doors for access. Took local trip with 2 canoes,and mileage was knocked down 2mpg. Got the 2.4 because of extra power possibly needed for the drag of 2 canoes. With 2.4 I can still accelerate smartly on to the freeway with boats on top. I haul a 15' Rapidfire and 14' Yellowstone with hood tie down straps,no problem with any overhang up front,but your longer boats may overhang enough to be legal on the highway,at the rear. My longest boat only overhangs rear by 2'.

RAV was awesome camp/paddle vehicle,but get the 4cyl if you want any kind of local milage. The V-6 was a powerful cruiser and got 29-30mpg on the highway,with boats27-28. Local mileage for V-6 was 15-18.

Looked at Honda fit,great room,but engine lacking enough umph to haul extra drag of boats.

E-mail me Andy, I can take pictures of Matrix if you want.


Civic Hybrid
I get 43-45 mpg with my Civic hybrid, and that is with my 18’, #58 boat on top. You could definately get two boats of 19’ on top of it.


Agree that most drive…
…too much car too much of the time. I guess that’s why folks are adding hybrids to their “fleet”, rather than replacing inneficient vehicles. With 2 teenage daughters and their stuff, we’re not finding the compact offerings viable for our camping trips. A few more years however, and it’ll be back to just 2 of us!

Slow down, the Fit will do fine

anyone haul plywood?
So all these small cars are great until you start a garage project where you need 10ft 2x’s and sheets of plywood. how do you haul that around in your Civic or Rav4 or Matrix. That’s the problem I keep running into. I sold my Ford Ranger and got a VW Jetta an have regretted it pretty much since. The Jetta goes fast, and gets pretty decent mileage but as soon as I need to haul something I’m hosed. So how do ya’ll handle this problem?


+1 on the Fit
I think it would be an excellent kayak hauler. I’d use J saddles on it.

I get a lot of use out of my SUV
I’m constantly picking up stuff that won’t fit in a car.

Maybe a small pickup would fit the bill? Any suggestions?


Utility trailer?..eom

front passengers seat folds forward,and will haul a few 8’ 2X4’s,roof rack for plywood {125lbs max},already done it with mine. Except plywood on roof rack of RAV seats down can only haul something 6’. Matrix scores better there.


I have an '04 Nissan Frontier P/U
It’s my primary 4 wheeler. It won’t swallow 4X8 sheets very well, they sit on the wheel wells. I have a 5x8 utility trailer for the trips to Home Depot.

Can you keep your SUV
to haul boats, plywood, etc. AND get a new little gas-sippin’ car for tooling around in the rest of the time?

Hubby and I each drive small cars the vast majority of the time but have a van as a 3rd vehicle for use only when we need to haul boats or other stuff.

roof rack
I haul plywood and lumber on the roof of my car all the time. If you can carry an 18’ kayak, a piece of plywood should not be a problem. I’ve even carried sheetrock on the roof.

Rent when needed?

No problem
Both my Matrix and my wife’s 1994 Eagle Summit have Yakima roof racks, which easily carry a few sheets of drywall, 2x4s, 3/4" plywood, etc… Just the other day, I needed several pieces of 16’ birch trim; bundled them together and lashed 'em on good and drove home. We already have good cargo straps and other tiedowns for the boats, so can get a modest load up there and haul it home safely.

For those rare larger projects like a full room remodel, we simply rent a small flatbed pickup from the store where we buy the lumber and drywall; 18 measly bucks for a couple hours is plenty to get our stuff home, and I don’t get stuck fueling the damned thing. Every. Single. Week.

As fuel prices continue to rise, more and more people will begin to wake up and realize that they in fact can survive daily life without their own personal lumber truck. Every decade or so I move into a new house, but I don’t drive a U-Haul every day …



And eat up your fuel savings
in insurance and registration fees?

second that
Why have a second motor sitting in the garage most of the time? A trailer would do fine, unless you do garage projects for a living.

just thinking about this
I just got into kayaking this year and i bought 2 boats, a 17ft and a 12ft…I’m able to put them both on my 2005 Matrix…love it…I picked up the Thule racks but after a few trips I widened the space so the kayaks sit on them in the strong parts…thule told me to keep app 26in space between the bars but i moved them to app 36in…I was wondering if i bought the Prius, could they handle racks?..that car has a very good curve to it…but the whistling sound the racks make…yikes! I’m not buying the Prius right now, i have only 70K on my Matrix, and yes I do get to camp out in the car when folding the seats down…love the car