toyota highlander & 16 ' & 17' yaks

Just wondering if anyone has had experience car topping on toyota highlander? Currently have Element, which is great water vehicle, but seems to get pushed around the highway more than I’d prefer at 60 mph+ w/kayaks on top. Also the Element posts for the rack are a bit close (

07 vs 08 Highlander
Have not cartopped with Highlander, but have some related info…

If you are looking at Highlander, be aware that the 07 will be replaced by an early release 08 very soon. The redesigned 08 Highlander will be larger and have a more powerful V6- the V6 that’s in the 06-07 Rav4 and some other Toyota models. Might get a good price on a 07 on the lot when they bring in the 08.

A square vehicle like the Element will be more affected by wind. The Xb that I had was quite sensitive to cross winds.

Think through where you would place rack bars on the Highlander. Wide bar spread (too far forward) induces wind noise. Every vehicle is different. Some folks have been pleased with a faring reducing wind noise, others not-- depends on application.

I installed Yakima bars with low riders on my new Rav4 today. I placed them at the front and back of the long factory rails. I thought I had a great spread---- They started to howl at 35mph. Moved the front Yakima bar back about a foot, to the suggested location for the forward factory crossbar. The wind noise is now minimal. I will play around with different widths, but probably will not get much wider without excessive noise.

The very long possible spread of the Rav4 rails was reduced to about what you have on your Honda Element. If the 08 Highlander has a sloped roof like my Rav4 and most of the redesigned SUV’s, you are likely to have the same issue with a 08.


We carry our 22’ Necky Nootka Plus on our Element. We have 2 racks (saddles in front, rollers in back) on top of the Element, then a Dry Dock with rollers in the hitch. Works great!

The 08 Highlander

– Last Updated: Mar-28-07 8:38 AM EST –

Be cause the RAV is bigger,they made the Highlander bigger.They were loosing sales to the bigger RAV,and outdated look. It now looks like the RAV 3 because the drag factor is low,and used that to help the Highlander get the same milage.

I have a 06 RAV4 V-6. I use an old Thule clamp on rack somewhat like the low rider. It was from an older car we had,and just happens to fit the RAV. I use the full spread 42",and it will whistle occasionally with a crosswind. I haul canoes.

Here is a few pictures of my RAV ,which is a great paddling vehicle with room,a removeable gear net,under floor storage,fold flat rear seats, and factory rack capacity of 105 lbs. Highlander will probably be nearly the same set up from front seats back. With a drop down tailgate. I prefer the swing open door of the RAV, as you can access gear with out removing boats.

BTW if you like a thrill get the V-6 RAV. 269 hp,and only 1 mile per gallon less then the 4cyl.The new Highlander will have 270 hp,and high gas milage in the city.I tow a small camping trailer,and it doesn't know it's back there.

Happy Paddling billinpa

crossbar spread
Hi billinpa,

Your being able to utilize the full spread of the factory rails encourages me to do experimentation with spread width before I accept the present narrow placement.

I do have the V6 in my Rav4. Just finishing the break in milage, so I’ll soon try out that power a few times.

New Highlander should be a fine vehicle, but more expensive than the nice Rav4.



– Last Updated: Mar-28-07 11:17 AM EST –

I do get a whistle without canoes,only in crosswinds,and it actually sounds like someone whistling. With the boats on I hear heavy wind noise ,but judging how many bugs I capture in the back of the canoe,I say it's because the canoe funnels the wind in and compresses it near the back ,and that's what I hear. Actually this set is quieter than some other racks I had. The 42" spread is the best of any vehicle I have owned. I actually take a tape measure along when buying a car,and check the total rack spread,if under 30" I won't buy it.

Ah,just watch the power,she will actually ignite the traction control on dry road! Oh,and watch for cops,because it is VERY easy to go over the speed limit,just resting you foot on the gas peddle.Enjoy the ride{Sorry that's Nissan}

Happy Paddling billinpa

Highlander roof rack
I have an 05 Highlander and absolutely love it. I use Thule Crossbars (56" if I remember right) and two Glide and Set Saddles. It works great for me! Loading from the back with the Glide and sets is a breeze. I was disappointed that the car I purchased came with a spoiler since I figured it would be easier to put the kayaks up without it but it’s actually worked out really well. I thread a bath towel over the spoiler and the kayaks glide right over it making it even easier to load boats and without a scratch to the paint.