Best cars for kayaks

Going kayaking? Here are eight cars that are perfect for transporting you and your kayak to the water. Paddles up!

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Sep 30, 2021

There are many ways to transport a kayak using a car. This will almost certainly involve a roof rack, unless your vehicle is long enough to fit a recreational kayak inside. This is unlikely, although some van-based MPVs do offer a load length of up to three metres - assuming you’re happy to travel alone because this involves folding down the passenger seat.

Whether you’re carrying a recreational kayak of up to 3.5 metres, or a longer touring or sea kayak, there are many roof racks available, some of which are purpose-built for this activity. You can even buy a carrier with gas struts and extended lowering arms, to enable the kayak to be loaded at waist height.

An estate car is the best vehicle for the job, as the long roof makes them ideal for carrying a kayak. They also tend to be lower than an SUV, so you won’t have to struggle when loading the kayak onto the roof. There are a number of other vehicle types that are up to the job, though.

In all cases, it’s important to choose a high-quality roof rack. You should also check the weight capacity of your vehicle’s roof AND the capacity of the roof rack. Don’t forget to ensure the roof rack is securely fitted and the kayak is strapped in place.

Best cars for kayaks

1. Subaru Forester

Used deals Limited stock

While some cars pretend to do the lifestyle thing, the Subaru Forester just gets on and does it. All versions come with an advanced four-wheel-drive system, which adapts to the road you’re driving on. Perfect for when you need to take your kayak to a car park that’s off the beaten track.

Aluminium roof bars are available from Subaru, so all you need to do is add a kayak carrier. The Subaru Forester was the car used by the Great Britain canoeing team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. We know that a canoe is to a kayak what a coupe is to a convertible, but it demonstrates the load-carrying capability of this rugged vehicle.


2. Volkswagen Golf Estate

Used deals from £9,990
Monthly finance from £272*

Unless you’re engaging in some wild kayaking in a hard-to-reach location, you probably don’t need a car with four-wheel drive. Most coastal and riverside kayaking locations are accompanied by a tarmac car park.

This is why something like a Volkswagen Golf Estate makes sense. You get a large boot for carrying your kayaking gear, a long roof for your kayak carrier, and a range of engines that provide excellent fuel economy and plenty of pulling power. If you need to venture off-road, there’s even a rugged Alltrack version with four-wheel drive.

On the other hand, if it's fun you're after, there is a range of punchy yet efficient engines, including the bonkers Golf R.


3. Audi A4 Allroad

Used deals from £13,455
Monthly finance from £0*

The Audi A4 Allroad offers the benefits of an Audi SUV but with the bonus of lower running costs, a large boot and less of a climb to reach the roof. That said, the A4 Allroad is 34mm higher off the ground than the standard A4 Avant, but this makes it more comfortable on the road.

It remains in front-wheel-drive mode most of the time, which saves fuel, but some of the power will be sent to the rear wheels if the system thinks it’s necessary. Great news, if you find yourself bogged down after a hard day on the water. You can buy an Audi kayak rack with a tilt function for ease of loading and unloading, too.


4. Citroen Berlingo XL

Citroen Berlingo rear three quarters view with boot open

Used deals from £15,750
Monthly finance from £0*

Why stick your kayak on the roof when you can carry it in the car? The Citroen Berlingo XL is long enough to carry a recreational kayak inside the cabin, thanks to its load length of more than 3m. Handy.

Granted, you have to fold the front passenger seat, but if it’s just you and your kayak, the Berlingo XL could be just the ticket. If not, because this people carrier measures 4.75m in length, it’s ideal for carrying a couple of wider or longer kayaks on the roof. You even get a handy opening window in the tailgate, which is ideal for loading your wet gear after a day on the water.


5. Skoda Superb Estate

Skoda Superb Estate front

Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £366*

The Skoda Superb Estate is one of the best family cars you can buy. It combines the quality and space of a Mercedes or Audi, with the affordable price and low running costs of a mainstream family estate.

It’s also supremely comfortable, with space in the rear outclassing everything this side of a luxury car or limousine. The boot is large enough to swallow your kayaking gear, even without the rear seats folded. Opt for the Greenline version for the lowest running cost, or the SportLine trim for some added sporty design features.


6. Vauxhall Combo Life XL

Used deals from £15,497
Monthly finance from £0*

If you’re the kind of person who would rather spend their money on a kayak than a car, the Vauxhall Combo Life XL is the car for you. It shares much in common with the more glamorous Peugeot Rifter and Citroen Berlingo above, but it’s available for a much lower price.

In fact, it’s one of the best-kept secrets on the BuyaCar website, with prices starting from less than £300 per month on PCP finance. Like the Berlingo, it comes with sliding rear doors, a huge load area and a long roof for carrying your kayak.


7. Nissan Navara

Used deals from £12,495
Monthly finance from £0*

Double-cab pick-ups are surprisingly good family cars. Powerful engines, four-wheel drive and space to carry everything including the kitchen sink make them an excellent alternative to an SUV. There’s also the favourable company car tax benefits associated with running a pick-up.

The Nissan Navara is a popular choice - you’ll almost certainly spot one on your next kayaking adventure. Inside, it’s as car-like as a Nissan Qashqai. Outside, you’ve got plenty of room for a kayak carrier, with or without a load cover.


8. Land Rover Discovery

Used deals from £19,379
Monthly finance from £817*

If you’re prepared to, ahem… push the kayak out, the Land Rover Discovery is a great SUV for carrying something on the roof. It’s all thanks to the optional Aqua Sports Carrier, which is designed to carry a sailboard, canoe or kayak. It even includes a lockable holder to carry oars or paddles, along with a tilt function for easy loading and unloading.

Lockable straps and rubber supports maintain optimum weight distribution while protecting the kayak and Discovery from scratches and scuffs. Thanks to peerless off-road capability and seven seats, this is the best SUV for families with a sense of adventure.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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