OK-- I’m starting to think about replacing my PT Cruiser which we’ve been using to carry two Pungos (Thule feet and crossbars, just tie the yaks down with cam lock straps).

Here in Upstate NY, I’d REALLY like all wheel drive, so we’re thinking Subaru.

Can I carry our yaks on an Impreza wagon in the same way we’ve done it before? Any major reason to consider the Forester or Outback (full size)?

Can I use the factory installed roof rails? Any info welcomed!

If the impreza is large enough for you then you should be able to cartop with it. I’ve had an impreza and now drive a legacy outback, the outbak has considerably more room than the impreza (or the forester, which is built on the impreza platform with a taller roof).

You can go the cheap route and buy foam blocks to put on the rack - they make 'em with the subaru rack cross section cut into them - or you can buy a fit kit that adapts thule crossbars to the factory rack. I believe subaru might also make a “hullivator” type attachment to fit on the factory rack.


– Last Updated: Apr-16-07 10:01 AM EST –

I don't know anything about roof racks as I trailer my boats. I have a very good lifted, big wheeled Toyota truck and my wife drives a stock Subaru Legacy and her car blows my truck away when it comes to handling in deep snow and mud.

Outback factory rack
Well I don’t have a kayak, but when I tried to put my canoe on my wife’s Outback’s factory rack, it was too wide. Good thing we only had to drive a few miles.

Had 03 Impreza…
and now an 05 Outback. I am using an old design Thule,that has fit all my Subaru factory racks from 96-05,and my new 06 RAV4. I remove the factory crossbars,and mine clamps anywhere along the side rails. They now make a different version with replacable longer bars. Mine I can not change the bar length. I have several setups to carry 2 kayaks,or canoes. The canoes pose a problem with the width,so I made a 2 X 4 add on bar that clamps over the Thule. J cradles or stacker bar works for kayaks. I think load limit for Subaru side rails is 105lbs,and should be stated in the manual. Subarus are the one vehicle there are lots of options for racking. Welcome to the Subaru family.

Happy Paddling billinpa

I have Subaru Impreza Waggon. I find it sligthly on the small size. 6’4’’ Pyranha 4-20 barely fits inside - have to move passenger seat all the way forward. The crossbar spread is also on the narrow side.

All in all, I would choose Legacy Wagon or Outback.

Legacy wagon
I have a 2001 Legacy Wagon and put the Yakima Double Cross on the factory rack. I built an extension rack to get more spread and I regularly carry 2 kayaks up to 18’ long. Do not buy a Subaru if you dont have a reliable dealer in your area to service it. I dont and it is a pita to get it serviced. Most non Subaru facilities dont know what they are doing.

When we were looking, the Impreza didn’t get significantly better mileage than the Legacy. The long roofline on the Legacy wagon has worked well for us.

I have a 04 Forester…
and use a Yakima rack with 66" bars to carry two canoes. The Subaru factory rack is stronger than most other factory setups, however the width is the major short-coming.

I have a turbo model, and with the exception of the fact it requires premium fuel, I love the vehicle. 50,000 miles and absoluetly trouble free.

Subaru Outback
We have an LL Bean edition with around 110,000 miles and have had no problems with it at all. The LL Bean edition has a six cylinder instead of the regular four. The four cylinder models were noted for developing an engine knock especially at start up. Subaru calls it a cold start knock and says it’s normal. The six has a timing chain instead of a belt too. We love ours!

450 Crossroads
I run 2005 edition crossroads thule adaptor on an 05 Outback and indeed the adaptor uses a rubber-like clamp that can adapt to many different roof rails and it’s pass through, which means you can use the 54"(?) crossbars or the much longer 58" crossbars with your Subaru and get wider than car bars on it.

The stock Subaru crossbars have a 100lb weight limit and they are somewhat more flexy than any aftermarket bar from any of the major aftermarket players.


factory rack
I have a 2007 Forester, and I transport my kayaks on the factory rack, on their sides, cam strapped to a pair of Thule Stacker bars. Never had a problem, gone as far as 100 miles at 75 MPH. No need that I can see to invest in crossbars, etc. if your Subaru has a factory rack.

I drive an Outback Sport (Impreza)…
and have only had good luck, I run 78" bars clamped to the factory system and can haul 2 tandem canoes without a problem at highway speeds. Very secure. I also use caribiners up front in the tiedown holes behind each front wheel to attach my bow lines and there is one on the right rear for a stern line.


Subaru Square Bar Rack Option
I have a 2004 Forester XT. I bought the Subaru Square Bar rack option with the car. This rack, made by Montblanc, accepts all Thule style accesories. It was in the 2004 Subaru catalog of accesories. Not sure if its still available.

It mounts to the car in about a minute and has built in locks. It is far more versatile and easy to install and remove compared to the standard factory racks. With this set up I’ve hauled two QCC700s (18’ x 21") sea kayaks in normal Thule saddles (where the kayaks sit right side up.)

The Forester is quieter and gets better mileage without any type of roof rack. This Square bar rack makes removing the rack very easy.

Good Luck

Yakima Forester Towers
My wife has a Forester, I have an Outback. The Forester Towers made by Yakima can’t be locked, if worry about theft is a big concern for you. The Yakima Lowriders that fit the Outback can be locked. The low roof line of the Outback is nice. Forester is slightly higher, but still lower than most of its competitors, like the Rav4.

we have an outback
We have a 2002 outback wagon and use the factory bars with thule J craddles for two 17 foot sea kayaks.

We have the six cylinder not the greatest mileage about 26.

I don’t think you can beat the Subaru if you want four wheel drive.

In the winter the wife teaches snow shoeing to handicap people so the four wheel drive is nice.

This is our secound Subaru and we have been please with them.


I have a subaru forrester
2001., the roof rack capacity is 150 lbs. The others are 75 lbs. I remember reading this as I usaully carry two canoes so it was important to me to get the carrying capacity. The AWD is the best on the market. The subaru has a limited slip rear diff. The others dont, that only gives you 2 wheel drive. one in the front and one in the back. with limited slip you get 3 wheel drive. I also do my own mechanicing and find that the subaru is very easy to work on. It also seems like it is high quality with good engineering. I do wish the paint was better. seems to chip more than others.

2007 Forester rack still 150 lbs
We just bought a new 07 Forester March 31. The rack capacity is still 150 lbs. Basically the wife’s vehicle and she loves it, gets good fuel economy and the price was right after the $2000 rebate AND 1.9%. Don’t know if they are still doing that in April - if not, wait until that comes back.

Limited-Slip Differential Lesson

– Last Updated: Apr-16-07 10:59 PM EST –

It's a mistake to say that when one wheel of a two-wheel-drive car spins that you have "one-wheel drive", or that when one front and one back wheel slip on a four-wheel-drive car that you have only "two-wheel drive". Sure, you might not be stuck in the same situation if one wheel per drive axle didn't slip, but the *torque* being delivered to each wheel on the same axle is the same, and the tractive effort applied by each wheel on the same axle is the same (same is true for driveshaft torque to the front and rear if you have a differential between the front and rear, but let's not complicate things). The problem is that the wheel with better traction can't deliver any more torque than what the traction level on the "bad" side will allow, and if the combined tractive effort of the two wheels is too low to move the car, you are stuck. Mechanically speaking that's a far cry from having half as many wheels driving. When one wheel is spinning "uselessly", you'd actually have only HALF the tractive effort if you could somehow isolate that wheel from the system and use only the the torque being delivered to the wheel that isn't slipping (and the same thing is true if you were to isolate the non-slipping wheel and rely only on the slipping one). Lock the two wheels together, however, or partially lock them, and now the torque delivered to that wheel with better traction can be higher than that delivered to the wheel that would otherwise slip. The wheel with the poorer traction doesn't contribute any greater effort (except sometimes because static friction is greater than dynamic friction so a non-slipping tire has more grip) than it did before, but the wheel with better traction now can take as much torque as its own traction condition will allow.

In an open differential, the torque between the two sides is balanced just like the force on two ends of a rope that hangs over a pulley. In that situation, if you hold each end of the rope in your two hands, neither hand is capable of pulling harder on the pulley's anchor point than the other, yet the total pulling force is equal to the sum of the forces of both hands. It's the same with the two wheels connected by an open differential. Both wheels exert a tractive effort which is always equal, and the individual tractive effort per wheel can never be greater than that which can be supported by the wheel with less traction.

Limited-slip is great, but let's be clear about what's actually happening when a wheel slips and not make it out to be worse than it really is. The slipping wheel really *is* contributing, even if it's sometimes not enough.

limited slip at the boat ramp
I’ll never buy a pickup truck without limited slip. When retrieving my (gasp!)center console Scout at low tide, the ramp is often slippery. With limited slip, I don’t bother to engage 4WD - can feel the LSD engage. Once, easily brought up my boat next to a first year Tundra spinning his one wheel (no LSD option first year on Tundra). Fella sure quieted down about his great new Toyota when my Silverado pulled his boat out so easily…