Careful about buying the Prius if you plan to roof top carry your boat. A friend has two of them and loves them, but when I looked closely at both cars, a 2005 and 2004, there is no place to fit the edge of a roof top carrier. They both get great mileage, but it does not look like either can be rigged to carry any type of rack.
love the old '87 GL’s
i think that’s one of the best cars of all time. a friend of mine is still driving his with 400k+ miles on it, and all he does is change the oil.
Thule begs to differ
while this is not a set up I'd use to carry megaweight, I'd put up a couple of boats on it.
2006 Audi A3 Sportsback
I’ll be picking up one of these tommorow. It only 55 inches high. The 2.0 Turbo 4 cylinder engine reportedly gets 25 mpg in town and 31 on the highway. It’s Audi’s entry vehicle. Starts at about 25k and has lots standard features. Can get pricey if you start going for the options.
Station Wagons or Crossover cars
I own a Volvo V70 wagon. It is a wonderful wagon for long kayaks. You really cannot go wrong with any car with a long, flat roof that you will find in station wagons or crossovers (another name for wagons to trick non-observant yuppies). such as the Ford Freestyle.
Anything station wagon
We are on our third Ford/Mercury Taurus/Sable wagon, and will probably replace the 1997 with a Subaru Legacy or Outback later this coming year since it is the closest thing out there to what we have now. We’d happily buy a station wagon version of the Ford 500 or equivalent Mercury, especially if they moved their hybrid technology into it, but in their wisdom the company decided that they no longer were interested in having station wagon types like us as customers and have stopped the wagons. Instead, the equivalent Ford/Mercury is a SUV/crossover with a taller roof and shorter spread between the rails.
But the Subaru are still decent cars, at lest until someone messes with them.
I don’t know about VWs anymore
As a long time (air cooled) VW fan I regretfully have to say that, after seeing my wife’s VW experiences (97 Jetta coupe and now a 2001 Jetta wagon), I probably wouldn’t recommend one.
They were/are both decent cars overall. Handling is excellent and the styling etc is really nice. But the thing is that they are loaded with weird nuisance types of problems and you’ll hear that from almost everyone who owns one - including our mechanic.
For instance, on the 97, if you used one of the buttons to roll down the rear windows while you were driving the doors would lock and the alarm would go off.
So far the 2001 is doing ok but it won’t start when the temperature drops below -5F (that happens from time to time here im Montana) and as best we can tell it’s a problem with a starter relay or ignition relay. We have to wait untill the next cold snap for the mechanic to troubleshoot. Another thing that happens from time to time is that we’ll start the car but then can’t shift it our of park!?!?
I’d expect this kind of stuff from my 94 Pathfinder (which is super reliable and I’d put it up against any similarly aged Toyota) but not from something so new.
One cool thing about our new Jetta is that the front seats recline really far and are almost as comfy to sleep in as our bed.
Get a Suburu wagon.
What about a Dodge Magnum?
Didn’t see anyone mention it, why not?
Looks sharp has a low roof line, plenty of power at least according to manufacture. I’ve never driven one, I have a Suburban and K1500 4X4. But the Magnum looks good. Not that I’m a Dodge fan by any means, that’s another story.
When we bought our last vehicle a few years ago, I looked at the VW Jetta wagon. Of all the cars I drove, I liked it the best…but I was put off by all the warnings of “nuisance” complaints that VW’s have. Apparently they have dropped the Jetta in wagon form, and it only comes in a sedan now. My friend just bought the Honda Element, and seems thrilled with it, but height-wise it doesn’t seem much shorter than my minivan. Last time I started looking at Subarus, but we ended up getting a great deal on the minivan, so we went with that. (The minivan has been great with kids + friends, bikes, dogs, camping, equipment…just not great for cartopping a kayak, and damn near impossible with our extra super heavy canoe.) Now that we are replacing our sedan, I’ll definitely check out the Subarus. Any thoughts on some of the hatchback style cars like Toyota matrix, Scion xA, or Mazda3? Even with a rack, would they be too small for a 16’ kayak?
Toyota Matrix (Pontiac Vibe)
Front wheel drive for bad weather. Good gas mileage. Not too tall. Toyota quality. Room for gear.
It’s just so damned ugly.
Why did they quit making the Camry wagon?
Thule begs to differ
Mea Culpa, and I agree, while I would ot carry a major heavy item, I would cartop a couple of kayaks.
Thanks for the insight,
Audi A3 looks sweet
I actually like the look of that Audi A3 posted above. I’m not a wagon fan but that thing looks pretty cool from the pictures. Bob, let us know how you like it.
I second the Honda Element
as we too purchased one in November. While we have not hauled kayaks with it yet we will soon as our boats are due to arrive very soon. The Element does look smaller from the outside then from the inside. Good gas mileage in the ~ 22 to 25 mpg range. It is set up to take Yakima landing pads so putting on a roof rack is a breeze! You can see a picture of our Element at my site:
06 Jetta Wagon will be Spring
The wagons will start arriving in April 06.
i’m with markinnc
VW Jetta Wagon TDI
I had the Jetta Sedan but after seeing the wagon i thought how nice to have that much storage room and traded. The gas mileage in incredible,between the Sedan and Wagon a total of 70,000 miles of VW Jetta and no problems with anything at all.
My only wish was that the Jetta Wagon was offered in AWD.
I’ve got a full size Montero but it is high to load boats, use rollers on the back…the RV is another story.
Wonder how the Toyota RAV 4 would do? Front wheel drive and rated 30 mpg.
Like Tsunamichuck and 'Cuda, I have a 2wd Toyota truck and it works great. It’s getting a little old and I’m wondering what to replace it with that would be greater.
I want a Japanese, front wheel drive, good gas mileage, beautiful, inexpensive wagon.
You folks at Toyota reading this? Make me a Camry wagon!!! That Matrix is just butt ugly!! And what’s with that stubby roof rack? and the radio antenna sticking out of the middle of the roof??!! Pretty dumb.
There. I feel better.
Thule Prius Fit
They do make a fit-kit for this vehicle but we have sold two customers the rack kit and neither of them , or anyone at our shop could get the thing to mount. The actual fit-clip provided just seems way too short.I have never had a problem getting a Thule to mount in 15 years till the Prius came around. Thule claims it fits… we couldn’t get it to…? Any Prius owners that have gotten it to fit… and stay on out there?
a3 also comes as 4wd
a3 is a great car–i have an allroad, and will trade it in on an a3 in a year or two, but the quatro (4wd) version.
Saw a racked Prius a few days ago
Just crossbars, and I don’t know if they were Thule. They looked like round bars.
Anyway, the span between them was no more than 2 feet. I would not put a sea kayak on that.
I looked at the A3 Quatro, but it only comes in a 6 cylinder just like the passats. The gas milage on the 6 is not very good. Something like 17/24. Plus, it is way over priced starting about 38k if you want any of the fun goodies. At that price, the A4 wagon is a much better deal. I just picked up the A3 this Monday. It will need tie downs front and rear for kayaks mainly for the sweet low end torque. I’ll post more once I see what kind of spread I can get on the racks. I’ve never had so much fun driving a car as I have with this one.