new car?

I am looking for a new, fuel efficient, car to carry my canoe or kayak. Under 25K, long roof line, sleep inside if necessary, factory roof rails to attach bars. What are you buying or looking at with these features? Has anyone bought a Toyota Matrix? Any advice is appreciated.

For your information
"I am looking for a new, fuel efficient, car to carry my canoe or kayak. Under 25K, long roof line, sleep inside if necessary, factory roof rails to attach bars. What are you buying or looking at with these features? Has anyone bought a Toyota Matrix? Any advice is appreciated."

Recently my sister was looking at used cars. We drove the Matrix and the Scion Xd (or whatever it is). Neither of us liked the Matrix. The engine droned, the ride was vile, and the seats nasty (not enough thigh support). We both liked the Xd but it does not meet your requirements.

The Subie Outback 2.5i is within your price range and might meet all your requirements… other than gas mileage.

A few more
When we wre looking for a wagon we drove a few different ones. Those were about my requirements also as well as hauling a kid and her baby stuff.

We drove the Audi A4 wagon, Subaru Outback and Mazda 6 Wagon. The Mazda 6 was the most fun to drive, had plenty of room, interior kind of crappy but it rode hard and sporty.

The Subaru is what we ended up with and after owning it for 50,000 miles I can honestly say we will probably never get rid of this car. Absolutely no problems after 50,000 miles other than tires, brakes and windshield wipers. Tons of room, we splurged for the 2.5i limited that got us the leather heated seats and huge sunroof. This thing has driven through snowdrifts higher than the hood, and down back roads and fields to hunt and drop in my kayak off the beaten path. Really appreciate the higher ground clearance. And it is still the family car that goes for groceries and vacation trips.

The Audi was very nice and much more expensive. Ultimately when we can find a used new style A4 my wife will get that and I will trade in my vehicle for the Subaru. The Audi was much more refined in about every area and quieter inside. We just couldn’t stomach the extra 7-10K for it.

Like the post above, you should be able to get the Subaru right around that, cheaper for a slightly used one and we regularly average 30 highway 22-25 around town with what I would call a big wagon. I regularly haul 2 kayaks on the factory bars with just Thule kayak racks attached to them.

Have 09…

– Last Updated: Apr-04-09 6:09 PM EST –

Matrix,what do you want to know? I haul 2 canoes on Yakima clip on towers rack set up. Don't buy the factory rack,because nothing fits on the side rails. Get naked roof,and rack it. Have 30" of rack spread,and is centered near the center of the car,keeping rear overhang to 3' hauling a 16' boat. Have straps under hood for tiedowns,works great. Knocks the gas milage down 3mpg hauling boats at highway speeds but average 27-28mpg with boats,30-31mph unloaded. Plenty of flat floor space for gear,camping gear. Front passenger seat folds forward to carry 86" Greenland stick if needed. 2.4 L, 158HP,5 speed,S model,plenty zippy,handles well.$18,500 out the door loaded with,A/C,cruise,power windows/locks,security,ABS Stability/Traction control,17's,sport package,5 speed. All wheel available at 20K. Low roof line,makes it simple to load boats. Only negative,can't open the rear hatch with boats on top,but rear doors still allows easy access. I love it.


Test Drive a Ford Flex, it will surprise
you. I don’t know if it can be purchased in your price range or not. I was amazed by this car and I already had a bias against it. Great ride, quality, and gas mileage for its size. It is a big inside as a Suburban but gets 24 mpg. Good luck. Please at least look at and consider the American cars and if you cannot find what you want, you at least did what you could to help the country out. Hell, to help me out.


I have to say…
I was pleasantly surprised by the Flex too. I doubt that you can get one under 25K though. The other problem, I don’t know how you can rack it for carrying boats. It is a shame with that beautiful long roofline it’d make a heck of a boat hauler if it can be racked.

Subaru . . .
. . . wagon, Outback.

Subaru Forester
I have a Subaru Forester. I believe I paid about $21,000 for it, before tax. I think it’s a 2006.

I bought it for the high clearance to use on forest service roads for hiking, and to pull a small pop up camper.

Down the road, the kayaks came along and it fits my needs for the kayaks also. It does have those roof rails or whatever you want to call them. It’s pretty good on gas, which was a feature I put high on the list while assessing other vehicles.

I can’t rate it against other cars on the market today, but it was great at the time I bought it and still is. It’s also all wheel drive.

Also, lots of cargo space and of course, rear seats that fold back flat, so there is potential to sleep in it.

Find out the cost of whatever you decide on, perhaps by using Consumer Reports online. See what the real cost of the car is, then see if they are receiving an incentive to sell it from the maker of the car. If so, don’t pay over the cost of the car (what Consumer Reports says it cost them supposedly). They are already getting a kick back to sell it, so that’s their profit. Right the figure down, stick to it, and don’t let them spin you into a “previously owned” vehicle (used car), no matter who they said owned it before.

Good luck!


Chevy Malibu
I really like mine. Rated 22 in city 33 on hwy. Once I got 36 mpg on the highway from Richmond to Raleigh.


– Last Updated: Apr-04-09 10:30 PM EST –

I suggest the Mini Clubman - my 2004 Cooper has been a great boat hauler and daily driver - there's quite a bit of room with the back seats folded flat. The new Clubman gets much better mileage (28/36), and the panel-van style doors can be opened with boats on the roof. Plus it's just so cute....

PS save money and get the manual transmission - these cars are a blast to drive!

"The Flex is produced on the same assembly line as the Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ontario, …"

Chevy HHR w/2.0L turbo …

– Last Updated: Apr-04-09 11:30 PM EST –

...... I don't own one but , I think it is an impressive little package though , especially with that 2.0L turbo , amazing emgine with fantastic reviews ... check it out at least . It's a car really , has front wheel drive .

Interesting article with reviews…

The biggest surprise to me was the highest rated of the five in reliability was the PT Cruiser.

I’m in the market too
Got 150K on my Saturn Vue, still runs great, but now’s a good time to upgrade. My needs are a bit different. Need a boat hauler, needs to carry some large stuff on occasion. Also like a nice ride, I do a lot of driving.

In the beginning stages and so far the Toyota Highlander fit’s the bill nicely. Forester is a possibility, but may be too small. Little leery about getting another Saturn.


Hey Andy…

– Last Updated: Apr-05-09 9:57 AM EST –

Try the Rav4 V-6 I had one & loved it 30mpg highway{sans boats},20-23 in town.I had the base with option package{trailer towing,upgrade wheels & safety features,about $23K} Kick ass V-6. PLENTY of room inside. Fairly low roof line for an SUV. Rear seat leg room/head room larger the Suburban. Side swinging rear door was a pain to some people,but I loved it,because you could load/unload anything without removing boats. 41" of rack spread with clip on factory rails rack set up. Sadly I couldn't afford the payments after the divorce,so I downsized to the Matrix. I'll get another one day.Right now you could deal on the Limited for close to $25K


keep us posted . i was looking at
highlander but price was in upper 20.000. look like we be getting honda crv and for about 22,000. i live in south jersey. find our what you want and get dealer to compete for your business. some of these dealer act like there is no recession and won’t do anything for you. i would use internet auto trader, consumer reports., , edmonds or kelly bluebook. good luck. tell us what you get and how it works out in ref to kayaking. oh hope arm getting better. give it proper time heal and you be back on water.

New Car
Get the Consumers Reports Annual Auto Issue. It has the best info on vehicles, with no close second. The USNEWS rankings are a joke due to omission of many better vehicles than the ones mentioned. For example, the PT Cruiser has an average to worse than average repair record. There are many better choices. The CR info is based on the actual experience of thousands of owners-no one has better info.

All vehicle choices are compromises between pluses and minuses-there is no perfect vehicle for transporting canoes/kayaks. If you want space you need a larger vehicle, resulting in worse milage. Long roof lines with a straight roof roof (without the now popular slope in front and back) are becoming hard to get.

I bought a Toyota Rav4 two years ago to get the V6 power (for light towing) with gas milage similar to other small 4cyl. crossovers. I removed the factory rack and install a CRV fit kit with home made adaptors for Thule Tracker II feet. This gave me the bar spread I wanted with removal at the push of a button. Most folks are probably not willing to go to such extremes, but it can be done. While I like the V6 Rav4 in many ways, the interior is tight, the rear door opens the wrong way and the roof slopes a bit. Love the adjustable lumbar support on long trips.

A neighbor just bought a Forester and has found that the height is tough for loading kayaks and the factory rails are too far forward for easy loading from the rear. In most other aspects it’s a great design.

All vehicles can be set up with a acceptable rack, some are easy and others are hard, but all are doable. If all else fails you can drill the roof and install tracks. A sloping roof leave the racks at an angle to your loaded boat, some worse than others.

Make your compromises between size, gas milage, reliability, handling,ride, interior access, cost, ect. and then figure out how to rack it. There are no sure choises, just compromises. If your unwilling to go to some lengths to improve the rack situation, make the roof rack aspect one of the first choices in your process of compromising between choices.


Will do…
I’m looking for a medium size SUV and the Highlander fits the bill nicely. I’ve looked at lots of reviews and comparisons. The Highlander ranks high in all of them.

May go the used car route. This is the vehicle I’d use for business, so I’ll have to look at the tax advantages of buying new vs used.

I want the mid size because, I’ll be moving a lot of furniture and crap from NJ to Va. once my daughter and son in law move back from Hawaii and find a place.


Never gon’na give up me…
‘01 Jeep Cherokee Sport until it rots inta de ground. Why? Cuz it’s still gots welded rain gutters! Super dependooble but piss poor MPG so one o’ deez days ah’s jus’ gon’na be a’lookin’ fer somethin’ wit better gas mileage fer coomutin’. Miss me ol’ ‘81 Ford Bronco wit de 300 inline six - ah’ used ta git 18-20 mpg city an’ up ta 27-28 highway - an’ dats no BS!!


Didn’t like the HHR
I had the non-turbo version as a rental. Not very well put together and fuel efficiency wasn’t great … it got in the mid to high 20 mpg range.