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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