I currently have a minivan, which is really too tall for me to cartop on. Need to replace my old sedan in the next year. Am thinking about something reliable, with good gas mileage, that is not real tall. If you were buying a new vehicle, and wanted to cartop your kayaks, what would you pick?
Tickled With Our Honda Element
Only had it a few months now, but it’s easy to drive, does well off road, and is perfect for throwing gear into. Funny, it doesn’t look as big from the outside as it does on the inside. Here’s a link to an album with some pics. Getting about 25 MPG combined with the 4WD version. WW
Toyota P/U with a shell
My 1990 is still going strong and gets 21-24mpg. With the shell and carpet kit, don’t need hotels.
VW Passat all wheel drive. Beautiful car.
Lots To Choose From
I have had a TDI Jetta Wagon for about three years now and would not trade it. It gets 50mpg, the roof is very low and makes loading and unloading easy, and it has been reliable for the 40K miles on it so far.
This car is very low to the ground in addition to having a low roof line so I would expect it would be terrible off road.
Subaru (the bomb)
We got a 2005 Outback, and love it. Great cars, very versatile, legendary reliability. Great AWD system, wonderful in snow and rain. Nice long, low roof for cartopping. Lots and lots of interior space, the trunk area is giant. We’ve gotten great mileage out of it too. Probably best car we’ve owned.
Even my ancient Subaru is great!
Though it has its quirks, and may need to be replaced in the next year or so, my 1987 GL Wagon (with 220,000+ miles on it), is still the best “SUV” I’ve ever had. It’s not “AWD all the time”, but can be run in 4WD when needed.
When I’m ready for a new (used) car, I’ll probably be looking for another Subaru wagon; though a few years younger than my current car.
That will probably be
my next set of wheels.
Everyone that I know who has one just loves the damned things! Wyoming winters really put 'em to the test.
My wife drives a VW Passat 4motion
Nice car. She will not allow me to put a rack on it! I drive an 05 Ranger 2wd with camper shell and a 95 Jeep Wrangler with homebrew roof rack. They both work great. Get the Subaru!!!
Check out the Ford Escape
We wanted a Suburu, and the dealer we went to sold both Fords and Suburus.
We never even were interested in the Escape, but got a 4 x 4 six cylinder (much more passing power) for much less than the Suburu and it has more features. The dealer didn’t seem to have as much bargaining power in the Suburu as he did the Escape.
One of our shopping criterias was to be able to mount a Yakama rack system, and the Escape is set up so you can remove their cross bars and then mount “landing pads” in their tracks.
With two 18 foot kayaks on it, I get about twenty MPG. Without them I am getting 22.
I am 5’9" and can easily slide the yaks or the canoe right on from the back.
If I have my J cradles on I can load from the side.
If you are a few inches shorter than yes think Suburu.
My Hyundai Elantra GT works great
It’s very well appointed, has plenty of horsepower, gets 30+ mpg with boats on the roof and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (I paid less than 14K for it last year). I use a Saris rack that is easy to remove and install, so I don’t need to keep it on the roof when I’m not using it, where it would eat into my fuel mileage. Without the rack, I get 34-37 mpg on the highway, depending on the time of year.
I have a 97 sportage that I bought used, biggest mistake I ever made.
I’m going to get a Toyota Prius. In the next five years gas will be at least $5. I want to be ahead of the curve. FishHawk
VW Passat WARNING
I will second the Passat recommendation with a warning. I own the 1.8lt turbo 4cyl. w/stick, 2002 model. Fantastic driver and motor, the four is supposedly superior to the six cylinder model. Ah… but in the first year the tranny had to be replaced, all 4 ignition coils, the main computer, the radio, a shock, the discs warped, replaced the rear wiper motor, rear wiper pump hose came apart, left rear taillight became a fish tank after any rain, sunroof leaked, plastic parts have self destructed around the car, wiring harnesss glitch, gone through 7 driving lamps, and now the headliner is coming down, I have a gremlin in a headlamp wireharness, the release button on the parking brake fell out (requires sticking a finger in there to depress a release, not fun). And thats just what I’m remembering at this time. And when the coils went, it was a slow national recall. Dealing with VW USA was the most agravating thing I’ve EVER encountered. It took 7 weeks to get new coils. The dealer had my car over 1 out of every 7 days I owned the car the first year. VW customer service (national) was HORRIBLE! But you all decide if you want to drive one. Mine seems to drive great for the time being though… now if we could only keep all the headlamps working on any given day. Quality German engineering my a**! I rove an Accord and an old Chevy combined for 26 years… never had the cummulative problems in 26 years that the Passat has had in 3.
I still like the Passats
I use to want a Subuaru WRX, but I was just looking at them and they appear cheap looking in my opinion. The Passat has a sort of class about it. With the 4motion all wheel drive I don’t think you can beat the Passat for looks.
You have the real 4WD
Back in the older generations, Subaru 4x4’s had low-range transfer cases. AWD vehicles do not have those. Some vehicles (not Subarus) that are advertised as 4x4 are not 4WD at all–they switch back and forth between front axle and rear axle drive but never have both driving at the same time. And they do not have a low-range, either. I could name names of makes but I will refrain.
Watch out for those unethical ads.
Looks over function?
You’d better test-drive that Passat no matter how good it looks. When my husband was car-shopping, he wanted me to drive the Passat. I hated its turbo, and the handling was only so-so. He ended up with an Outback, which has been excellent.
My Toyota has 180,000 on it with no major repairs.
I can sleep in back if I am solo, and it can easily take camping gear for two, including big thick foam mattresses.
I like 2WD. Easier to rack, hadles better, better gas milage. I carry chains but never had to use them in 10 years.
I own a passat and would
prefer a jetta wagon given the better mileage and lower initial cost. subarus are also good.
There is a tax credit for hybrid’s that is going away soon. If you’re thinking about doing it in the near future, and you can swing it in the very near future, I guess it is worth considering.