Rack on 2017 Subaru Outback

Checking for a friend. Anyone use the factory rack to carry a canoe? Thoughts? Rating says 80kg, so weight not an issue. Looks interesting?


My outback is a 2013, but it looks like the same type of rack. I use mine to haul canoes. Longest I’ve taken one so far is about 250 miles.

Which model of 2017 Outback?

– Last Updated: Nov-02-16 8:37 AM EST –

The new (2017) Touring model is equipped with low-profile Euro style factory rails.

All other 2017 Outback models are still equipped with that plastic/metal abomination that Subaru started putting on the Outback commencing in 2010.

I too have the same rails from 2013
and they are a POS. I ended up buying landing pads from Yakima and bars that fit into them.

The swinging factroy bars are flimsy if you do a lot of traveling with boats and can only hold one boat.

That’s a long canoe.

That’s the One
He mentioned the convertible rails “Convert” to cross bars.

That’s the One
He mentioned the convertible rails “Convert” to cross bars.

If they have the ‘convertible’ swing-arm style crossbars then they have one of the non-Touring 2017 Outback models.

Only the 2017 Outback Touring model has the new low-profile Euro-style roof rails. I guess only we sea kayaking types want robust factory roof-rail system like that.

Apparently Subaru’s target market for the Outback is “soccer moms” and they prefer that plastic laden, swing-arm baloney. It took them seven years, but Subaru finally saw fit to put real Euro-rails on one Outback model.

Subaru is playing it smart
Subaru knows it still has a niche position and probably knows some people are disappointed with its newer cheesy rack.

So it gives potential buyers a real rack, but only in a premium package. You want it, you’re emotionally tied to Subaru, so you’ll pay for it. What, you’re gonna buy a Toyota?

(I don’t mean YOU you).

I agree with your assessment…
and ironically this does apply to me/ME (embarrassed emoji).

We’ve now owned several Subaru’s.

My ACA membership discount helps in the purchase and our son can work on them. He happens to race modified STIs.

I often haul two sea kayaks, plus a cargo pod; or a sea kayak + one canoe. From 2010-2016 Subaru Outback just was not going to do it. My last two personal vehicles have been Subaru Foresters. They meet my roof rack requirements with their robust factory rails, but the road feel is a bit more truck-like. The Forester is also not nearly as nicely appointed as my wife would like (e.g. the Outback), and it’s quite a reach to the roof rack for my aging body.

I’m looking to trade-in my Forester next year and the 2017 Outback Touring model with the new roof rails is squarely in my sights.

it just makes me sad
I’m empathetic. Hey, they have to compete. But I had a '99 and loved it, it soldiered on with a failing head gasket for about 75k and was still running fine when I sold it. the roof rails AND crossbars were rock-solid, it had a low roofline that made it easy to load, and a low center of gravity that allowed it to handle great for a wagon.

I do like the new Foresters and if I was in the market, I’d try one out. But I also like the new Mazda CX 3 mini crossover.

…we tried it today and it seems beefy enough to hold a 70lb wood & canvas canoe? Loaded it today and no problem. I always prefer a rack that will hold 2 boats, but for an older couple using this on local lakes I think it will be fine?

Tell your friend I said “congrat’s” on the new Subaru!

They Bought The 2017…
…because his wife survived a crash in their 2015 Outback; he said it was a “Miracle?” They are pretty happy with it.

Thanks for the help!

Times change (for the better this time)
Back when I bought my 1980 Subaru, the most recent crash ratings in Consumer reports at the time (for Subarus about two years previous) said that you shouldn’t expect the seatbelt buckles to even stay connected during a crash. When they crashed their test models, all the seatbelt buckles broke free and the crash-test dummies went flying. At the time, people I knew simply said you had to expect such things with Japanese cars! Times change.

I have to give them that, safety is definitely a priority with Subaru.


– Last Updated: Nov-04-16 4:28 PM EST –

I delayed my planned purchase of a replacement for my 2004 Outback, precisely because of the awful roof rack on the new models. The old style allowed me to widely separate the crossbars to carry a long canoe. So now I have 2 new Foresters, a 2015 (my wife's) and a 2016 (for me). I am very happy with both. They handle a 23 ft C4 with ease and may be carrying one from the Adirondacks to the Yukon next summer.

Outback rack
Forgive the long answer, but I have a long opinion. As a rack installer for several years, I’ve put Thule, Yak and other racks on a lot of cars. When Subaru came out with the redesigned 2010 model, they used the weird set up with folding crossbars. Subaru claims this design came from a “focus group”. I believe it was about that time that Toyota bought an interest in Subaru, so maybe we can blame Toyota. Ask any Subaru salesperson about that rack and they’ll gush about how the bars fold into the rails to help with gas mileage, but neither they nor Subaru has any data to back up this claim. It’s a sales gimmick. The problem lies not so much in the weight capacity of the rack, but that the crossbars are too close together, and in 2016 or 2015 the rails are even closer together making carrying a boat longer than 17feet a crapshoot. Yakima makes a system just for the Outback that attaches to the big plastic blocks and extends the total length, but not by much. Bow and stern tie downs are a must if you’ve got the newer Outbacks. A Forester still has the tried and true raise rails and that’s a better choice. Interestingly, the Outbacks sold in Europe come with standard raised rails. I guess they don’t use “focus groups” there. There are Subaru forums on the 'net that discuss the rack situation and the general opinion is that the Outback rack sucks for carrying long boats. Look at a Forester. They have better visibility out the blind side anyway. Good luck.

Food for Thought…
…for those of us considering one, however; my friend has the vehicle and it appears the rack will be fine for his purposes. He will use it for short trips with one boat. For MY purposes, short AND long trips and multiple boats, I would “Just say no” to this factory setup, as you suggest.

I saw one of those Yakima racks
I’ve always thought that an inventive person could come up with a way to attach cross-bar mounts to those big, blocky rack mounts on the Outback. The other day I saw an Outback with Yakima’s solution to the problem, and it looked convenient, but that was about all. The cross-bar spacing was still far to little. Here again, I bet a person could come up with a way to use the Yakima anchors, and with extra improvised hardware, extend the rack spacing to span the full length of the factory roof mounts. Of course at that point, it might still be better to make one’s own attachment system, connecting to those big plastic blocks.

To me, the bottom line is that it’s absolutely inconceivable that such a big, bulky rack system that occupies such a long span of the car’s roof is absolutely useless unless it’s heavily customized, and customized in a a way that few regular people would be able to do. Equally baffling is how after all these years of everyone who carries stuff on their roof saying the folks at Subaru must be idiots for coming up with this idea, and still nothing has changed.