i’m in the market for a new car and would like some input as to what type of car is best suited for transporting kayaks and accessorties. i’m eyeing the Subaru WRX as a first choice, but the insurance seems a little high. thanks in advance for your inputs.

new Subaru
If you are looking at a Subaru I would go with the new Forester. The mileage might be less than the WRX but the towing capacity (car topping capacity) of the Forester from last year to this year increased from 2000lbs to 3000lbs and the mpg is the same. Just a thought.

Do You Like to Drive?
The WRX is a true driver’s car, basically a detuned rally car. If ‘go fast’ is not your numero uno protocol, there are quite a few other choices out there. A Forester or Outback GT will serve up some bang for the buck with lower ins. premiums. I’m intrigued by the new Toyota RAV 4 purely for its V-6, which is quite impressive numbers-wise. Check the most recent threads on car suggestions for paddlers.

The Forrester is actually less…
… car for the money than the (non-outback) wagon – less storage space, less room in general.

The reason for not getting the Outback, BTW, is that it’s a lot more money just to raise the car 1.5", which only hurts the handling, unless you are really going on some heavily rutted roads. Oh yeah, there’s the fancy exterior styling on the Outback.

But despite being Subaru fans, I’d never buy a Forrester.

I have both , new Forester and Outback and like each for what they offer. The Outback is essentially a higher wagon and offers more room for cargo inside. I find the Forester more fun to drive, not exactly sporty, but more so than the Outback. With the premium package, the panoramic moonroof on the Forester is the largest I have ever seen. When opened, it has the feel of a convertible!

size check
if you are over 6’1" forget the Subaru they are built for smallish folks. ALL of them, trust me i tried to fit into one… Neat cars but personally think they are over priced and reliability and parts costs both leave something to be desired. For transporting yaks get a TRUCK, for driving get a SPORTS CAR!!! or better yet a Motorcycle… get what you want, who gives a Ratts butt what every body else thinks. also the Subarus are a very tight fit for 4 folks and all the yacking gear!! 2 maybe…

Careful on the WRX

– Last Updated: Nov-16-06 5:30 PM EST –

The door moulding on the WRX is in two sections with the split above the rear passenger door. This limits the bar spread on a traditional 2 bar roof rack to 18" or so, on the 4dr sedan (have to clarify that as there is a wagon model). While Thule doesn't recommend carrying a kayak, I've seen a couple of whitewater boats carried on edge using an Stacker with this short bar spread. I'm not recommending it, just that I've seen it done.

While the WRX might be a fun little rocket of a car, you'd probably do better with the Outback or Forrester as a kayak transportation vehicle.

See you on the water,

Which WRX?
WRX can be had in either sedan or wagon configuration.

I own Impreza Wagon ( the exact name is Impreza 2.5i Sports Wagon). For kayaking purposes ( roof height, rail spread ) both WRX wagon and lowly Sport Wagon have exactly the same numbers.

I never bothered to measure the spread between crossbars. I typically carry 2 ~60lb kayaks on Malone Autoloaders. Since I have factory oval crossbars, I must use bow/stern ties - there is too much bounce in the rack otherwise.

Outback Sport shares external bodywork with Impreza WRX and Sport Wagon ( there are some differences), it rides on slightly higher suspension.

Skip the WRX
because your insurance rates will go though the roof with just a fender bender,or be cancelled. If you looking for power & speed,with station wagon volume,and a long list of safety features standard on the base model,and low insurance rates,look at the Toyota RAV V-6. Same gas mileage as the WRX,4WD,better roof rack{42" crossbar spread},and a WRX killing 269hp V-6. 0-60 in 5.6. Rear door that swings to the side to allow boats to stay loaded,and still access gear inside.


I had an 03 Outback Sport,and liked it,low roof rack{had to add longer crossbars for 2 boats} fair volume with seats down for gear. Just not great for rear seat room. Not a bad car insurance rates still higher then RAV’s

Good luck in your search.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Car topping capacity 2000 pounds???
Cartop 1000 pounds on a forester and you better drive like a sober grannie!

Towing is not the same as cartopping
Where did you hear that one?

You are talking about a specific type of payload (on the roof), which is much, much less than overall payload, which in turn is less than towing capacity.

Most rooves can support about 200 to 250 lbs on them!

While we’re on the subject of towing and payload, subtract the weight of driver, all passengers, any cargo carried or towed ANYWHERE, plus the weight of hitch and trailer from your total towing or payload (depending what you’re doing). If you do a lot of mountain driving or high-altitude driving, you need to downgrade your personal max. Engines lose 3% hp for every 1000 ft of altitude gained.

size check?
Though I’m only 6’ and find the front seat room in an Outback/Lagacy wagon to be more than adequat, a friend who is 6’4" finds it fine as well.

I am just over 6’1 and i’ve driven a Legacy and Forester and never thought for a second that they’re not roomy enough.maybe if you have the physique of an inflated airbag. And Truck as a kayak hauler? one of the worst types of vehicles you can think of because of loading height. an ideal kayak hauler has a long flat roof and isn’t high up and something you won’t cry over if you got it dirty or scratched it up. and good enough on fuel and reliable enough that you won’t think twice about a trip because of those 2 factors. To me,the perfect kayak hauler is a compact wagon with a GOOD sturdy roofrack.

2007 Forester has a 150lb. roof capacity
with roof rack and cross bars.


Get the WRX if you’re young.
If you’re just ho-hum, the Forrester!

I’d suggest Forester
Mine is a 1999, seven years old with 160,000 miles. Great paddling vehicle only not quite long enough for me to sleep in comfortably.

I don’t know about the current versions, but my 1999 Forester has the same engine and drive train as the Outback, but with less weight that equals more zip. It handles like a car, and with its AWD and ground clearance I’ve never been stuck in snow or mud - I live in rural central Iowa and travel about 10 miles on gravel roads back and forth to work each day.

If you want more zip in your vehicle than the Forester offers, may I suggest the turbo charged version of the Forester. That’s what’s on my wish list as a replacement for my current Forester when the time comes. I’m hoping for another 100,000 miles :slight_smile:

Outback Sport
Hello , I traded in a Mini for an Outback Sport .Having driven a stick shift for

more that 25 years and having a bad wrist , I had had it with the mini . The mini

was also a little scary out on the highway , its very small . Anyway the Sport is

an automatic , handles very well , has some styling and good ac and sound system.

The sport seats are difficult to break in yet are fine after several hundred miles .

The roof is sloped a bit towards the rear so it is not an ideal kayak car . You have

to secure the boat very well .It is made for some off road , not all outback’s are .

I am looking for a way to maybe raise the rear cross bar so the kayak rides level.

I am alao looking forward to next year and taking my Sea Wind out again .John

do you have to have 4wd?
honda oddyssey. If you really are transporting stuff get a stuff transporter.

Sometimes being able to change in the vehicle is nice.

If you’re transporting more than two people a minivan beats them all.

then there’s 90’s Buick Roadmaster with a big engine.

I drive a WRX wagon,
and it is a great car. Have a silver wagon, with almost 90k on it, no problems. Its the perfect blend of fast\functional. I’m 6,2 and its pretty comfy for me. My friend is 6,4 and finds it pretty comfortable as well. Not the best on gas in town, but can get close to 30mpg on the highway. The stock crossbars didn’t quite measure up to hauling around 60lb boats, but have since been replaced with a Yakima system that works well. Overall I have been very pleased with the car, and would think about replacing it with another WRX wagon, or perhaps going to a Legacy wagon with the turbo.

The new Forrester XT?
I am trading in my '03 Forrester tomorrow for an '07 Forrester. The new X model is much zippier. However, if you are looking for a WRX-like Forrester check out their new Sport model with a high performance engine.

Over the past 20 years I have owned a Legacy, a few Outbacks, and a Forrester and the Forrester is my all-around favorite, especially to carry kayaks and gear.