Hullavator on a Subaru Ascent

This Sunday I installed a Hullavator Pro on our Subaru Ascent. The installation was pretty easy but there are a few things to note.

First, a big shout out Marshall at The River Connection. We all know just how helpful he is here, he’s just as helpful in his store. We were both quite happy with the the pre-sale questions, shipping and post sale support, including text messages while walking his dogs on Sunday afternoon! Really, if you want gear, it is really worth talking to him.

So, what are the gotchas? The big surprise to me is that the Ascent’s roof bars are not parallel! Maybe this is a thing that all cars do but I was really surprised and almost made an expensive mistake when I was trimming the HD ProBars to fit. (At first I thought they were too long but it could have gone the other way and been too short, which really would have been nasty.)

I’m using a 61.5" bar width. This gives a 6" overhang in the front and a 7" overhang in the rear. For the test fitting I had a 5" overhang and the rear of my 62lb boat was within 4.5" of the rear fenders. That was too close to me so I increased the overhang to 6" which of course turned out to be 7" in the rear. I can still trim some off, going to 5" up front and 6" in the rear, for a 59.5" bar width but frankly, taking a hacksaw to a pair of $100 aluminum bars was nerve wracking enough so I’ll probably just keep it as it is. I cleaned up the cuts with 80 grit sandpaper and of course they are covered with the supplied Thule covers.

The Hullavators are 48" apart. We’re coming from a Jeep Wrangler with an exterior cage and have an almost 6’ span there, which we love, but it is way easier if you can reach both handles of the Hullavators at the same time. You can actually get a 54" and 61" span also on the Ascent’s roof rack, but at 61" the front hullavator will probably need to be shimmed so it is still level.

I’m 5’ 11" and I am almost at my limit of reach for the roof. A shorter person may need a step platform to reach. But even then, it won’t be like using a platform to mount your kayak. I tried that exactly once, it was terriffying.

Oh, and if you’ve never used a Hullavator and have body issues raising or lowering your boat and are considering one. Start saving up for one, they are so worth it. I was able to raise my boat with one hand without any effort it seemed. That was impressive.

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If there are two of you, can both of you handle the width plus height combo of getting the Hullivator down and up w/o strain to the shoulders? I had mine installed originally by a guy, and we both did the logical thing of trying to maximize the span between cross bars. But after the first couple of times of using it, became clear that I had to reset the cradles a little closer together between my size and the car height. (also a tall roof, Rav4). I am about 5’4" and frankly the distance between that seemed fine when he set it up was not a safe distance for my shorter and not-young shoulders.

You can try a stool but standing on other than the ground if the boat starts to wander off of dead even on you creates a whole new falling risk. Would not be a plan in a paved lot.

It is easy enough to reset if you have plenty of overhang.

We did practice the 2 people lower and lift thing, it is much easier for sure. So if we committed to that then we could get even a wider spread. But 4’ seems enough and it just might be easier for me to do it alone, maybe Lillyflowers will be doing something else with the gear or something.

I would never use a stool, we do have a small folding platform, you can see it in the picture, just barely. It has a ton of uses around the house. We had also been using it to tie the boats on the Jeep but just opening the doors and standing on the side seemed as good, actually more stable for the front lines since you could brace yourself against the opened door.

But this hullavator is going to be a game changer.

And yeah, super easy to move these around, we’ll be playing around this summer for sure. I’m wondering about the same gap but move it all forward so the rear lift gate can go even higher. Right now I have to duck a bit when it is opened. It has a memory position so you don’t bash the boats, that’s cool.

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I am solo so the spread has to work for me and only me. If you can split the work to keep that spread it is fine.

The rear lift gate thing is what has kept me from going to the highest equipment package on a car so far, because until late last year I had not seen an auto lift gate with an ability to set to a lower position in the cars I was seeing. The were all automatic and wanted to go all the way up. Probably not good for the mechanism for it to get stopped partway on a regular basis.

It may be moot anyway because even in my car, which had carried a pretty straight vertical lift gate, they redesigned the car so now it is not so straight. Result is that it curves down enough that even at a shorter height I might be challenged getting under it to unload gear with boats up. Up to now thru three makes of station wagon or small SUV I have not that issue.

I agree that the Hullivator is huge. I went to it a year or so after my husband died, when I had driven the last mile out of the two older cars we had. It has been great.

The adjustable range of opening on the “tailgate” is only available on the automatic/operator
actuated doors.

We can set the lift height on the Ascent to whatever we want/need it to be. NotThePainter sets it much higher than I need it to be. He would argue otherwise.

I am aware that this feature exists. It does not happen to exist on my current vehicle and it is relatively recently that I found it on a car on the lot of where I got this car in a equipment package that otherwise appealed.

I really have no need for anything above the package I have now, the extra bells and whistles for the next one up get into territory that does not interest me.