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Best four wheelers for two wheelers

These vehicles get rider and bike where they need to be.

Published June 29, 2012

We all know that cars and trucks have to share the road with bicycles. But sometimes, they have to share the same space. And that’s when a handy roof-, trunk, or trailer-hitch-mounted bicycle rack can get you, your automobile, and your bicycles to where you need to be.

There are a lot of choices out there. But here are my top 10 bicycle-friendly vehicles.

City Car: Fiat 500 (trunk-mounted rack)

Barely longer than most bikes, the subcompact, two-plus-almost-two Fiat hatchback is my pick for city dwellers that need to haul their non-motorised wheels around.

Not only is the 500 cheap to get into (prices start at $13,495), and cheap to run (sipping only 6.7 L/100 km in the city and 5.1 on the highway), its driving characteristics are almost bicycle-like, with an ability to nip-and-tuck amongst busy city traffic.

For fresh-air aficionados, get a trunk-mounted bike rack and go with the $17,495 500 C with its huge, canvas sunroof.

Subcompact Car: Kia Rio5 (roof-mounted rack)

If you need room for one more passenger, and the convenience of four doors, my current fave small hatch is the all-new 2012 Kia Rio5.

Longer and wider than its predecessor, the $14,095 to $20,795 Rio5 is almost as big as some compacts. But it offers luxuries that will make your bike-toting rides more comfortable.

Features such as heated leather seats, two-tone interiors, and a class-exclusive heated steering wheel give Rio customers a ton of customizability and luxury features. There’s even a touchscreen navigation system for helping you get to those out-of-the-way bike trails.

Subcompact Crossover: Nissan Juke SV AWD (roof-mounted rack)

Perhaps you need more room or all-wheel-drive with your new bicycle-hauling small vehicle. May I recommend the five-passenger Juke?

Front-drive models start at $19,998, but the $23,178 Juke SV AWD is a must if you want to get your bikes to places where two-wheel-drive compacts won’t go.

Not only does the Juke’s unique styling and utility make it stand out in a sea of subcompact hatchbacks, it’s a hoot to drive, darting about like a small hatch with steering that is quick and responsive.

Plus its AWD system can split torque 50-50 front to rear and can also dole out torque from side to side across the rear axle.

Compact Car: Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI (roof-mounted rack)

One of the most competent, all-round cars, the $27,025 diesel-engine version of the VW Golf Wagon is the Swiss Army knife of small cars. Put a bike rack on its roof, and you now have one of the most bicycle-friendly small cars.

The torque-rich (236 lb.-ft.) and frugal (6.7 L/100 km city; 4.6 hwy.) 2.0-litre turbo diesel four is only one of the five-passenger, FWD Vee-Dub’s qualities.

With a nicely screwed-together interior made from quality materials, roomy rear end, and German road manners, you’ll also enjoy the über-practical Golf on the days when you don’t have a pair bikes trapped to its roof.

Compact crossover: Honda CR-V (roof-mounted rack)

As much as I like the Golf wagon, you may need a bit more room. Or like the Juke, want more traction. My choice for bike owners would be the redesigned-for-2012, five-passenger CR-V, with FWD models starting at $25,990, AWD at $28,890.

New exterior styling, interior design, more standard features, and an all-new four-wheel-drive system — and refinements in the four-cylinder CR-V’s powertrain to eke out fewer litres of burned fuel — were instituted this year.

There’s still no third-row seating option. But by retaining the outgoing model’s wheelbase, Honda designers have created a new CR-V that is shorter in length, lower in height, yet with more room inside.

Mid-size car: Honda Crosstour (roof-mounted rack)

Neither a crossover nor a wagon, the Accord-based Crosstour four-door hatchback doesn’t fit any conventional car genre. But its refined driving characteristics combined with its functional rear hatch make it a rare find in the crowded mid-size car segment.

The FWD, five-passenger $34,900 Crosstour comes standard with Accord’s smooth V6. For $2,000 more, you can add traction to all four wheels. Reasonably quick and direct steering, little body roll, and a quiet cabin are the Honda’s main attributes.

And with a pair of bikes on its roof, there’s still 728 litres of seats-up cargo room, easily accessed by its large, rear aperture.

Mid-size Crossover: Kia Sorento (hitch-mounted)

Do you need room for you and six of your biking buddies? Do you need extra ground-clearance and traction of AWD? Then let me present Kia’s Sorento.

Starting at $26,595, the Sorento can be had with front- or all-wheel-drive and seats for five- or up-to-seven passengers. My pick would be the $32,295 LX V6 with an optional all-wheel-drive and third-row seating.

The Sorento’s driving position feels more like a car than an SUV. And although the LX lacks a navigation system, goodies like heated front seats, Bluetooth and a USB port are standard.

Plus there’s more interior room than compact crossovers, with plenty of second-row legroom.

Full-size car: Ford Taurus (roof-mounted rack)

If you need lots of room for five, like the idea of a three-box sedan profile, and would rather spend your money on a new carbon fibre bike than your new car, get the Taurus.

Starting at $25,974, the five-passenger, FWD Ford four-door is one of the least-expensive full-size cars you can buy.

You get a V6 with decent fuel economy (11.6 L/100 km city; 7.1 hwy). Plus, you can put your expensive bikes out of reach on the roof, leaving easy access to the Taurus’ large trunk.

Full-size Crossover: Dodge Durango (hitch-mounted rack)

Sometimes, size really does matter. And the new Durango is my pick if you need the capacity of a large SUV to carry you, your crew, and your bikes through any driving conditions.

Starting at $38,195, the three-row, seven- or eight-passenger AWD Dodge’s cabin is roomier with tighter fit-and-finish throughout and better use of higher-quality materials than before, plus plenty of up-to-date optional creature comforts, luxury, and safety features older Durango owners could only dream of.

A V6 is standard. But a Hemi V8 is optional. Perfect for those times when you need to get out on the trails quickly.

Minivan: Honda Odyssey (hitch-mounted rack)

Perhaps the most practical and usable vehicle on my list, with its large sliding side doors, and cavernous cabin, the Odyssey was seemingly designed for cyclists.

The front-wheel-drive Honda’s pricing starts at $29,990. Like its competition, the Odyssey is powered by a V6. Whether you get the five-speed automatic transmission or a new six-speed (available in pricier models), the Honda is parsimonious at fuel pumps (11.7 L/100 km city; 7.2 hwy. for the five-speeder; 10.9 and 7.1 for the six-speeder).

And if you like to drive your bikes fast, you’ll appreciate time behind the Odyssey’s steering wheel. While it’s no Civic Si, it’s still a more engaging drive than rivals from Chrysler/Dodge, Nissan, or Toyota.

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