Roof Rack For Mazda 5

I know there is currently a thread on roof racks in general, but since mine was a specific question I thought I would start a new thread.

My wife and I currently drive a Dodge Caravan and use Thule J cradles on the factory racks to carry our two composite (kevlar) kayaks. The spread between the racks on the Dodge Caravan is about 44 inches. I have had no problems carrying the kayaks this way.

In the very near future we will be purchasing a new Mazda 5 and we intend on keeping the J Cradles. The problem, or question, is this. The Mazda 5 comes equipped with “drill points” for either a factory rack system, or you can purchase Thule bars for it. However, the drill points are only 32 inches apart. I have checked on our kayaks, and that would mean the straps to tie the kayaks to the J cradles would come just outside the edge of the coming on either side of the kayak. I’m just not sure 32 inches is a big enough spread.

I can go to a track system, where a local outfitter would install tracks on the roof of the vehicle which would give me a longer spread. If I don’t need to do this I would prefer not to as it means drilling into a brand new car and it is also more expensive.

I should also mention that if I use the drill points on the Mazda 5 the load limit for the racks is rated at 160 pounds. If I went to the track system the load limit is rated at 100 pounds, so the factory drill points are definitely stronger. Should also mention that I always use front and rear tie downs.

The real question then, is do you believe 32 inches is enough of a spread to carry the kayaks?

Any thoughts or opinions would be much appreciated.

32" = no problem
According to my Thule Fit Guide;

26" allows you to carry most kayaks so the 6" you’ve got on top of that will make for a good secure fit for up to 165 lbs of load (incl. the roof rack)

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Racks on my '08 Accord have only
a 32" spread. Actually, having the ropes right up against the cockpit rims is a good thing for reducing fore-and-aft slip.

But if I were you, I might be considering screwing the little rain gutter segments onto the Mazda 5 roof at whatever gap I preferred. If, like me, you keep a car until you drive it into the ground, any small effect on resale is irrelevant. Just get the best advice you can on where to drill for the segments.

seems awfully narrow to me.

Have you considered doing the platform on top of the towers to get a greater spread?

Bow and stern lines
will always make things safer. I had a Saturn SL2 for 10 years that I carried multiple 16’ & 17’ sea kayaks on. The spread on the bars was less than 32" and I never had a problem.

cradle spacing
I carry a 16.5’ boat on a 32" spread. I have to use bow and stern tie downs to eliminate the rocking that occurs with acceleration and braking. I dont know if I need to but I do worry about the rocking ripping off the cross bars. havent had any problems.

1000 words

This is a Yakima, but the bar spread is similar. Biggest/longest I’ve carried on mine is a 16 foot whitewater tripping canoe.

For the pictures. From all the responses I have it looks like I’ll be O.K. with the 32 inch spread.

By the way, how do you like your Mazda, and how does it handle with the boats on top? Do you notice much of a decrease in power when you are hauling the boats? Anything else you can share about your car?

handling with boats, power, etc.
The Mazda 5 is a fairly light car for its volume, so it’s susceptible to crosswinds and tractor trailer buffeting anyway. With boats or bikes up top, the ‘sail’ effect can be fairly pronounced. It’s not dangerous, just something to be aware of.

For acceleration and going over mountains, I don’t notice much difference between an empty and full roof, though the gas mileage definitely suffers with boats/bikes up top. If you have bike trays (at least on the Yakima setup), you can only use the tilt feature on the sunroof. Opening it fully would make the glass hit the trays.

The 5 is a mini van that wants to be a cheap sports car. It has quick, tight handling, powerful brakes, and zippy acceleration. I’ve heard the automatics aren’t very inspiring, but I’ve only ever driven the stick version. The van style doors are great, and cargo capacity is big for a car that gets 30 mpg. 6 adults can ride in it, though the third row can be a bit cramped.

It’s not a good car for snow. The low profile, wide tires don’t bite in deeply enough. I’ve heard that people who live in snow country often will get a set of smaller diameter rims and mount narrower/taller snow tires on them for winter.

For a modern, fuel injected car, I’m surprised at how old school it can feel when trying to start it in cold weather. The van doors also will freeze shut in the right conditions (ice forms between the rubber seal and the door metal).

The interior has a few annoying features where Mazda either skimped or just wasn’t thinking. For example, the visors are small and don’t provide good sun coverage except when it’s right in front of you, and only the driver’s seat has an armrest. The cargo area has a light (good idea), but the light is mounted 6 inches from the floor on a side panel (bad idea).

Those negatives aside, it’s been a reliable vehicle so far and is about the only choice if you want 6 passenger capability and decent gas mileage. I hear Mazda addressed the interior complaints in more recent models. They sell a version in Europe that is AWD - I really wish that one was available over here.

i know the pictures make it look ok
but my general recommendation is against it.

That spread makes for a very small torsional footprint.

This is one of the reasons I opted against getting one of these cars.

2 cents.

I wouldn’t sweat it
My Neon had 32", and A3 has 27". I’ve 21’ Surf skis, 16’-18’ composite sea kayaks, 17’-20’ Skin-on-frames, HEAVY 16’ plastic SOT… No problems.

Disclaimer: both had racks with tough bars. A Saris on the Neon and a custom rack for the A3 made by Mont Blanc. The 27" spread concerned me at first - but the rack and saddles are so solid it’s like the boats are part of the car.

If you want more spread, you might look at something like the EZ-Vee…

Thanks again
For all the posts. The racks on the Mazda are solid so it looks like I should be O.K. It was only the spread between the bars I was concerned about, and there seems to be enough people here who have worked with either close to the same or less spread that I am now comfortable with it.

Mazda5 Bar Spread - Hybrid solution
I’m a bit late to this discussion (long-time lurker, but my first post), but am thinking about the same issues with my recently purchased Mazda5.

I have often carried one or both of my canoes (16.5 and 18.5 foot) on minivans, sedans and wagons and appreciate having more bar spread.

What I’m thinking of doing is using the front pair of fixed point mounts and adding a track (Thule or Yakima) toward the rear half of the roof to give me more options for bar spread. I’ve got lots of Tracker feet around from past vehicles, so would just use those on the track. I would mount the track just inboard of the trim piece/fixed point.

Would appreciate any feedback about pros or cons of such an approach.

Mazda 5 roof rack
I too think the narrow set rack points on the Mazda 5 are unusable for long items like canoes. Here is how I solved the problem. The Tule and Yak 72" track sections are just the correct width to replace the factory black trim piece that covers the grove over the roof to body weld joint. It runs from windshield to rear hatch. I took mine off, cut off the many brackets under it, and put down a 72" track that will allow full control of the distance between moveable cross bars - or even multiple bars. In addition, the groove the track fits in is over a double thick member and can be tapped and threaded. It will hold all the weight the van can stand and no fear of it pealing off on the road (from the pop-rivet points pulling out). It is pretty OEM looking too, unlike the naked track the shops want to install down the roof.

There are some lessons learned that I will gladly share.