New car for kayaks/canoes

Re Yakima bars. I found that separating the tower from the bars on older bars was near impossible. I went to Thule bars after lots of years on my Yakima bars and a desire to get a Hullivator.
FYI, the basic square Thule bars are quieter. In case you find something similar, since you will likely have to get new towers.

“FYI, the basic square Thule bars are quieter”
My Yakimas are thirty years old… Its the aerodynamics of the car and rack interaction. Never had a noisy crossbar.
General statements like this aren’t always helpful
We don’t swap cars a lot but the bars have been on a variety of Hondas Subies and Toyota trucks . Some eight vehicles in all.
If you want the Hullivator you have to go Thule… We have always end mounted our kayaks as the trucks are tall and use the Yakima Roller system… I see Yakima now has a Show Down but know nothing about that side loading system.

Its true that the bar ends will expand over time with corrosion and the towers difficult to get off but mostly we have just had to swap feet and clips. Except the one time a tower just snapped in high winds on the Great Plains… ( bow and stern lines are very useful) and that was covered under warranty even after 26 years.

Reading some auto forums I see that the feeling the head gasket problem on Foresters is a thing of the past.

Ok, so specifics…
When we put the Yakima bars on the pre-2010 Subaru, from using them on Ford Taurus/Sable, we found the increase in noise so horrendous we had to get a spoiler. Which I gave to a local paddler who had the same problem. Subaru Outback being a fairly common car for paddlers at the time.
I was able to make the towers that worked on the 2010 Forester work for the first Toyota RAV4 rails, so initially transferred the Yakima setup. Including the spoiler. When I went to the square Thule bars on the same car, it was radically quieter.
I have heard this from a lot of local paddlers, probably about half the local paddling crowd. It is car specific but it is also not an isolated observation…

Over the years we swapped out to new Yakima towers at least once, onto existing bars, because of concerns about the towers aging. So we never had a tower go. The newer set of Yakima bars, which are not young, could be separated from their towers. The older set (had setups for two cars) got to where that would not happen without risking damage to the cross bars to get them off. I figured they had done their service and didn’t owe me anything so it was OK.

You can make the Hullivator work with Yakima bars, I know some who have. But the combination of the extra bracing on the round bars and the age of my Yakima stuff sent me to new Thule bars. It is just not something I want to have any question about. Apparently the Hullivator can also work with the Thule Aero bars, but I found the square bars to be enough of an improvement. My loss is gas mileage is quite minimal when I don’t have the arms mounted, just the bars with saddle and glide pads on the other side.

I know people who have had Foresters with no head gasket issues, and I am reading the same stuff that it is all better now. The Foresters in general were better on head gaskets than the Outbacks. But having been thru that experience with both halves (Boxer engine), I also know that once the seep starts it will go downhill. OPer is seeing leakage now, it is not going to get better.

My Subaru experience twice over the years with that issue put me in the same place as having Siamese cats. I loved the feeling of driving a Subie, and living with Siamese. But I now want more boring and less twists and turns, both in cats and cars.

Hey gingernc, there are lots of good choices for sure. The Honda Fit is an awesome vehicle too and you might fall for it (or the HRV) just because of the second row “magic seats”. For us we checked vehicles for a flat load floor…that’s something that many hatchbacks may not have.

One last comment. Many of the vehicles you are considering have small engines and some people consider some of them underpowered (or borderline underpowered). So my comment is that when you test drive turn on the AC since that sucks a lot of power, and make sure the vehicle feels peppy enough to you even with AC on.

TomL: good point you make; AC in the South, essential. Thanks.

Been driving Honda CRV’s for the past 18 years with Yakama racks carrying up to 4 sea kayaks in the summer from Florida to Lake Superior, Lake Huron or Maine. The only negative is the height of the 2014 CRV compared to my son’s 2015 Honda Fit, which is lower and much easier to load and offload boats. When carrying 3 or 4 kayaks (weighing up to 70 lbs. each) I have a T-bar mounted to my hitch to carry some of the weight and stabilize the load.

I’m somewhat disappointed that there are almost no mid-sized wagons on the market any more. Everyone’s gaga over crossover SUVs. If I was in the market for a car, I might look at the VW AllTrack Wagon or the Audi A4 Wagon.

@l2t said:
I’m somewhat disappointed that there are almost no mid-sized wagons on the market any more. Everyone’s gaga over crossover SUVs. If I was in the market for a car, I might look at the VW AllTrack Wagon or the Audi A4 Wagon.

Also the Golf Sportswagen, was looking over the specs yesterday.

Yeah, if you don’t need AWD and mild offroad, the Sportwagon could fit the bill. I believe the AllTrack is the Sportwagen with a slightly slightly raised suspension, AWD, and some minor tweaks. The A4 Wagon is probably the same platform with more power and all the $$$$ luxury tweaks,

Late to the party, but second TomL’s mention of the Honda Fit. I drive one and locally my MPG is between 42-44 (stick shift); lower when I have to drive on a highway with a 75MPH speed limit (staying at 70). Loads of cargo space and even the base model is fully equipped with a backup camera, phone connection, etc. It’s very zippy; no appreciable slowdown with a/c. I have Thule Aero bars and the Hullavator.

Rookie, that’s encouraging about the Honda Fit. I want to drive one. Thanks.


One nice (free) benefit that came with the purchase was this: “Honda Roadside Assistance is a 24-hour emergency road service available to you in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico throughout your 3-year/36,000-mile warranty term starting with 2015 vehicles.”

I’ve used it once, when I was backing out of my garage and discovered I had a flat tire.

@l2t said:
I’m somewhat disappointed that there are almost no mid-sized wagons on the market any more. Everyone’s gaga over crossover SUVs. If I was in the market for a car, I might look at the VW AllTrack Wagon or the Audi A4 Wagon.


I’m getting a Crosstrek next month. Why the Crosstrek? 'Cause I’m old and stuck in my ways. Subaru is one of the few car makers that still offers a manual transmission.

Visitors this past week drove here in a Fit. We then rode with them across the creek to Soo Ontario and I was very impressed by the amount of leg room in the back seat. Seemed like a nice little car and as usual Honda assembles a decent vehicle.

I recently started noticing the VW Sportwagens, which are a more conventional “square box” design like the old “Swedish Brick” Volvo wagons that I used to love before Volvos became indistinguishable from every other squashed swoopy wind tunnel design “SUV” abomination. They do produce a basic (not a lot of stupid electronic geegaws to break) model with a stick shift for around $20,000, same as what I paid for my basic Mazda CX5 manual shift FWD. Had that been an option a few years ago I might have considered the Sportwagen instead of the CX5, though I would have to look into the service and quality reports on the VW.

By the way, since we are comparing models, though the CX5 has been a great little car for me (I average 34 to 36 mpg on highway trips and have had no mechanical issues in 3 years/33,000 miles) it has proven less than ideal for kayak hauling due to the short curved roof meaning the roof rack spread is barely the length of my cockpits – I carry my boats hull side up and the coamings JUST fit between the crossbars. This means that there is a lot of hangover – not an issue with the hardshells but I seriously bent some of the longerons (length-wise frame tubes) on one of my folding kayaks carrying it on that roofrack two summers ago. I also don’t like that the rear seats really don’t fold flat so it is not a great design for sleeping in the back seat.

Supposedly Citroen is trying to bring their neat little C4 Cactus wagon to the US – I rented one of those in the UK last year and really liked it (though driving a right wheel drive where the stick shift is on your left was quite a challenge). I hauled a kayak on it while there (used an inflatable roof rack that strapped on). It was a great car and I would consider one of those except that there is always that issue of having a dealer support network when you are a long road trip person like I am…

Of course, if the ludicrous blustering “trade and tariffs war” continues, our options for vehicle selection are going to shrink substantially in the near future.

About manual transmission: every car and truck I’ve ever owned had stick shift. What has made me lean toward automatic next time is the horrendous stop and go backups on my local section of interstate highway plus on I-95 coming south out of DC. The thought of depressing a clutch for an hour’s worth of creeping forward a few feet at a time is a pretty serious deterrent. And yet, I could enjoy a Crosstrek, I bet.
And, Willowleaf, you said it best: these curvy-topped cars ARE an abomination!

More on the manual… yes… if I had to travel near Charlotte on a daily basis I would buy automatic. I was there yesterday and it was awful. This manual will likely be my last.

My 2009 Rav4 has 140k on it and still runs like new. Have had very few issues with it and everything still works. Check you spare tire for the tire pressure light.

Thanks, Andy. Toyotas are good cars.