Roof racks on new cars

I’ve been noticing that a lot of new cars don’t have any structure on the roof for a rack. I looked at a VW Golf that was completely sleek on top and Thule lists nothing on their web site for that model.

Is this the future of cars? How are we going to get our boats to the water?

Foam Pads and Straps

– Last Updated: Oct-26-11 11:07 AM EST –

a.) put foam pads on roof
b.) lay kayak on top of foam pads
c.) open both doors
d.) run strap over kayak on roof - thru both doors
e.) cinch strap taught, tie off loose ends
f.) close doors and drive

The soft rack approach works on almost any vehicle
Not pretty, not elegant, but quite effective.

A hard rack approach involves the door opening.
Nice solution for the ""no roof rail" issue

which cars?
2 door hatchbacks or 4 door wagons with roof rails on top?

Even some 2d hatches have normal racks.

Kin’na tuff …
ta do dat wit carrin’ 2 or three boats…

Ta de masses, rise up! Bring back welded rain gutters!


Get a trailer
You will never go back to the roof.

Don’t know about 2012 VW
But my 2011 VW had a clean roof. The load bar alignment points are under the roof edge, hidden by the doors (4dr GTI, pretty much same roof as a Golf). The front load bar has an alignment hole filled by a plastic screw when the bars aren’t mounted. The load bars basically clamp onto the roof on either side (at least that’s what the OEM bars do.) I know there is a fit kit for the 2011. I suspect there is one for the 2012.

I’m guessing alot of cars are going to this cleaner look for the “naked” roof but roof racks will still be available, just mounting a little differently than they did in the past.

are you sure about that?
The thule guide shows a fit kit for the 2008-___ golf. I’d call them to make sure, but the open-ended designation tells me it fits the latest golf.

That is a high volume seller so it makes no sense that thule leave them out. Too much money to be made. They lure you in with the rack, then work on you with all the accessories.

Might be the future, for a while

– Last Updated: Oct-26-11 4:29 PM EST –

Probably helps boost highway mpg to have a sloped, clean roof.

If there wasn't as much pressure to have (the added weight and expense of) increasingly stringent emissions control while simultaneously making room for ever-fatter Americans, maybe they wouldn't shave off function elsewhere.

Another trend I hate is that cars and some trucks have such high doorsills with shallow windows that visibility is poor even for people of average height. Seems like a genuine safety problem, and I don't see how this one is caused by emissions requirements or cost-cutting.

plus it’s ugly
…and I don’t think those skinny windows will age well at all design-wise.

I like the clean roofs with no gutters though.


– Last Updated: Oct-26-11 4:17 PM EST –

It's the same with the new Mini - attachment points are just above the doors, hidden under trim, not obvious at all. But they definitely want to sell you a rack and whatnot. It's the same with Audi and I'm 100% sure the VW is the same.

2011 CR-V
My CR-V appears to have a smooth roof but along the edges there are pieces that pop off to accommodate factory roof racks.

Trailers are great, but…
rooftopping is better for some situations. Taking a ferry, for one thing. The cost to ferry a tow rig and a trailer (especially a loooong trailer) is quite high. Driving on “primitive” roads for camping, as another example. Driving and parking in big cities, too.

I still prefer trailering for routine use. But having a roof and rack system for those other times comes in handy.

Thule tracks
Thule makes tracks that can be mounted through the roof.

Yes you will drill holes in the roof of your car.

Remove headliner to attach backing material for the tracks.

I have always painted them to match my car/suv (they come in black). I actually had a body shop install them for me on a Chevy Trailblazer SS.

When the load feet aren’t installed in the track they don’t look wrong.

You might want to think about a small
pick up, like the Ford Ranger, and put a cap on it. My wife and I were just talking about that today on the way home from paddling, and figured that when it came time to replace our Escape, that is what we would go with.

Jack L

No roof rack needed
A hard rack approach involves the door opening.

Nice solution for the "“no roof rail” issue

new cars are getting cheaper and cheaper
in the name of gas mileage, newer cars are becoming weaker and weaker, metal replaced with plastic, features being cut… in the name of profit the manufacturers seem now to only be creating cars for the general masses - in other words, they have seemingly forgot about the small percentage of us who actually use things such as roof racks…

i ended up going to a small pickup with a homemade rack just so i would feel comfortable hauling boats on top… every other car i looked at the roof racks were simply to wimpy… For example, i had a 2008 ford escape (they changed many things for the worse in this year) - it’s roof rails were made of plastic and only rated for 50 lbs… I actually broke the rear step bumper - dealer stated it wasn’t intended for daily use of being stepped on to gain access to the roof. It was held in place by plastic bolts and attachments… many of these items work for the very occasional user, but simply do not hold up well for daily use…

This whole weight savings thing has gotten completely out of control! Cars have become too cheapened and weak for any use other than grocery getting in the city. Too many vehicles have features designed to look tough, but then prove to be completely useless as they can’t take daily use or simply aren’t designed to hold any kind of weight (roof rails in particular)…

It has become rather difficult to find vehicles capable of safely hauling multiple boats on a semi-daily basis… especially if you add in the requirements of: being a daily driver, able to take on muddy rutted up logging/dirt/access roads, able to be parked in non-plowed parking lots for several days in the winter and still drive out (winter camping), able to haul gear for multiple gear… etc… etc…

I fought the idea of a pickup for the longest time, but after checking out countless newer cars, i gave in for the sake of being able to build my own heavy duty rack system… I ended up with a 2010 toyota tacoma regular cab 4cyl 4x4 5spd manual… I’ve been loving it ever since… Plenty of room for gear in the bed, able to securely carry multiple boats, and it is nice to be able to sleep in the bed with a minimum of fuss…

I was pleasantly surprised with mileage as I was used to older pickups (no mileage at all)… It actually does better than my 2008 escape or my 2006 saturn vue did for gas mileage. 22mpg is my average, if i can keep it below 65 (around 55-60) on an extended drive, i can get 25mpg… And it is nice to have cruising range of 425 miles between fillups…

All in all, modern small pickups do surprisingly well in gas mileage, and from what i have seen, are probably the strongest vehicles for boat hauling out there. At that, even pickups are moving over to lighter weight plastics and composites…

Good luck in your replacement car search! I hope you have better luck than i did. Just be sure to closely look at what you are getting… and what it is made of internally - including the possible use of plastic bolts and anchoring points to save weight… Like i said earlier, these work for the very occasional user, but do NOT hold well for constant use. Plastic weakens over time as it is flexed…

Well Jack… you better get it this year
"cause in the Americas, the current Ranger is done as far as 2011. As a Ford family member who only has driven Fords for 30 years, I’m freeking shocked that Ford is doing away with the Ranger as we know it. It probably will come back in a couple years looking like the current Sport-trac. Check out the Ford website…

I just finished “racking” my “new” 2010 VW golf… 2 door model with hatch. Kudos to yakima for a great design. Now - time to paddle!

Pick up trucks!

2012 vw rack
Don’t panic yet on the VW or for that matter any new models that are not yet listed in Thule fit guide. Thule does extensive testing before releasing new fit clamps and they need to be sure the vehicle manufacturer doesn’t throw any last minute changes into the mix. It happens. My affiliation with the auto business has taught me however that if Thule has a no fit for a popular vehicle it is not cause they can’t fit the car its cause the factory trim is weak and fails Thule’s testing.

One poster is correct-rise up and demand that vehicles be made with strong and easy attachment points and stop showing us adventuresome ads with vehicles that are not the versatile transportation they infer in ads. My pet peeve is how Subaru festered what was a really great roof rail system on Outbacks but I need to clam down and give it a rest…