I've had several canoe haulers over the years and have had to deal with roof rack issues. I've noticed many vehicles today have short little racks and the crossbars are located too close together or too far to the back of the vehicle to be useful. Subaru REALLY screwed up their racks on the newest model Outback. I had a 03 Outback 2.5L and it was a powerless gas hog for its size. Yakima Railgrab towers worked pretty good to put Yakima crossbars on the Subby, and carry two canoes.
I have a 06 Toyota Tundra 4WD mentioned above, gets 14.5 to 19 mpg depending on conditions and speed. It is parked unless I need it to haul or pull something. I have four Yakima Landing Pad #6 permanently mounted to the camper shell, for use with Control Towers and Yakima crossbars. But to haul a long canoe or kayak, I have a pair of Q-towers that attach about the middle of the front doors, so I can really maximize front to rear bar spacing with one crossbar over the pickup cab and the other on the camper shell.
New vehicle? Strongly consider a Hyundai Sante Fe. In front-wheel drive version, they get up to 30 mpg highway, which is awesome for a medium sized SUV.
I also have experience with Honda CRVs. I owned a 2000 model. Factory rack is good to use Railgrab towers on for Yakima crossbars.
Consider newer models of the CRV. DON'T be afraid of the roof rack options of ANY vehicle! I currently own a 2003 CRV, and the rack options are very limited. Using Yakima towers that attach at the factory rack mounting points, the crossbars are very close together. SO, on my 03, I dropped the headliner in the very front and very rear of the vehicle, and permanently mounted a set of the Yakima Landing Pad #6 on each end of the vehicle. I dropped the headliner to be able to use the regular "nut and bolt" connectors rather than the blind nuts available in the Landing Pad #7. Yakima can't tell you where to put the blind nuts in...so you would have to drop the headliner anyway. The landing pads are not that noticable and come with covers when the rack is off the vehicle. I'm really, really happy with the custom install on the CRV. A similar install could be done on virtually ANY vehicle. If you are handy, you can drop the headliner yourself, or just find an upholstery shop to do it for you.
SO, my advice is to buy the perfect car, then get a rack on it. My choice would be a 4 cylinder late model RAV4 or CRV.
Kayak & Canoe Covers
Kayak Motor Kit
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