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  1. #1
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    Which hatchbacks can swallow two bikes inside?

    I'm looking for a daily driver that can haul two bikes upright (front wheels removed) inside the vehicle. The Element was my 1st choice but I need something a bit cheaper (even used Elements with reasonable mileage are expensive).

    Aside from the Element, I am looking into the following vehicles:
    - used Mazda 5
    - used Subaru Forester

    Anyone here use one of these vehicles for bike transport? Can they swallow two upright bikes with the front wheels removed (one being a XL framed 29er)?

    Any other vehicle suggestions? Looking for a hatchback/crossover that gets good gas mileage and is somewhat fun to drive priced under $16k.
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  2. #2
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    Toyota Matrix / Pontiac Vibe
    See this thread for interior bike rack pics: Matrix inside-the-car rack (as promised)
    You do have to take the seat post out though.

    My brother gets near 40mpg out of his, with a 5spd manual and the base engine.

  3. #3
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    We used to own a Mazda Tribute which is just a renamed Ford Escape. It was a great car, milage was so so at about 23+. I bet you could pick up a used one for dirt cheap. I have heard nothing but good things from Vibe owners. Why not a wagon??. We are about to replace our daily comute car with either a focus wagon or Vibe.

  4. #4
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    Honda Fit is another option. It's more compact, but has cavernous hauling capacity. Just carried 2 bikes in the back on a trip from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to visit Ray's. It's a fun-to-drive car. Just get the manual if you get one. The auto isn't as good. I get upper 30's on the highway with a Thule rack on the roof. I get a solid 35 with bikes or a canoe on top of said rack. It's a nice car.

  5. #5
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    Chevy HHR, 2 bikes upright without having to remove the seat post (at least on with my size of frames). Good gas mileage 30-33 on highway and 24-25 around town with the 2.4L engine, inexpensive and has been extremely reliable.

  6. #6
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    Honda Element.

  7. #7
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    Volkswagen Golf/GTi of any year. My 1986 GTi hold two bikes and gets 45mpg around town, but more like 27mpg on the highway due to the low gear ratios, ie 80mph is +4000rpm. My 2000 Golf TDi(diesel) hold two bikes, maybe three and get 50mpg. The newer ones are even bigger, but more money then used.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by vw_steggie
    but more like 27mpg on the highway due to the low gear ratios, ie 80mph is +4000rpm.
    I'm not sure what kind of cars you're comparing to, but that ain't a very low gear ratio.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    My wife currently drives an '07 Rabbit with a roof rack as our main bike transport. Oddly enough I haven't tried putting a bike inside of it yet. I'm trying to split the bike transport between her Rabbit and my next car. Her car already has 18k miles on it...and we've only had it for a year. Yikes.

    I'm a HUGE VW fan and I'd love to get my hands on an 04-05 TDI 5-door Golf, Jetta wagon, or Passat wagon....but everyone I see up for sale has rediculously high mileage and an inflated price tag. Seen quite a few that are asking upwards of $5-6k OVER the listed used retail values on KBB, Edmunds, and NADA. Did VW include crack with these cars?

    The new diesel Jetta wagon would be ideal. However I am sure that car will be priced in the low 20's BEFORE all the dealer markups since everyone is foaming at the mouth for a gas sipper that isn't a hybrid. Apparently there is already a waiting list for these cars.

    The more I look into the Mazda5 the more I'm digging it. Seems to have quite a bit of versatility yet still seems fun to drive. Think I may give one a test drive. Betting I could easily fit a couple bikes, all my gear, a cooler, etc in the back of that beast with no problem.
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  10. #10
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    Honda Element...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1an
    The more I look into the Mazda5 the more I'm digging it.
    That's probably a solid choice. It's funny when these questions come up that people keep suggesting things like minis and ultra-small vehicles. Maybe they ride BMX bikes or something. That or "fits two bikes" means that a fork is sticking out over your head and the crankarm is sticking out the window.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    I'm not sure what kind of cars you're comparing to, but that ain't a very low gear ratio.

    I am comparing it to other Volkswagens I've had and it is by far the buzziest of the bunch on the highway. For instance my Golf is @3000rpm at 80mph. Not saying it's bad, in fact it is the best car I own. I very rarely drive on the highway. Oh, these are with the manual gearboxes.

    The diesel Volkswagens have a cult following and since there are not many of them then people can command high prices. Check out prices for the old Vanagons, now they are crazy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vw_steggie
    I am comparing it to other Volkswagens I've had and it is by far the buzziest of the bunch on the highway. For instance my Golf is @3000rpm at 80mph. Not saying it's bad, in fact it is the best car I own. I very rarely drive on the highway. Oh, these are with the manual gearboxes.

    The diesel Volkswagens have a cult following and since there are not many of them then people can command high prices. Check out prices for the old Vanagons, now they are crazy.
    Gotcha!
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  14. #14
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    I'll second the Honda Fit. I replaced my 03 CRV for a Fit a few months ago and I'm very happy with it. Oddly enough, the interior storage is almost as big in the Fit as what I had with the CRV. It's not as long but it's has high and almost as large. Two bikes fit perfectly upright but they have to be a bit sideways due to lenght so there wont be a whole lot of free space. When I was with the CRV the bikes would fit upright and straight on one side so there was still plenty of space for my tools, camping equipment and so on. In the fit, there is still space but I don't think I'd be able to fit all my bike and camping stuff for a week as well as two bikes. I got myself a roof rack for those trips. Anyway, the Fit is a pretty nice little car and like suggested below, if you get one, take a manual, it feels like driving a go-kart and it gets much better mpg...

  15. #15
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    Mini?

    Where did you see anyone recommend a Mini in this post?

    You might be able to get a bike inside with both wheels off or at least the front but not two standing. In fact, I hardly see any recommendation that would enable two bikes to be stored inside "standing." That is a "tall" order. My Subaru Outback sure as heck would not allow you to transport even one bike standing. I tried. (Yes, I also have a Mini)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev Bubba
    Where did you see anyone recommend a Mini in this post?

    You might be able to get a bike inside with both wheels off or at least the front but not two standing. In fact, I hardly see any recommendation that would enable two bikes to be stored inside "standing." That is a "tall" order. My Subaru Outback sure as heck would not allow you to transport even one bike standing. I tried. (Yes, I also have a Mini)
    The Honda Fit is a much taller vehicle. It really does work in there and posts abound on the forum as examples (with pictures). I do have room inside mine for 2 bikes (rear tires fit between the seats), wheels, tools, and camping gear for two PLUS a dog.

    My Fit has a lot more headroom than my Jeep Liberty. In the Liberty, the bikes fit upright, but the seaposts have to come out. Not so on the Fit. You won't realize it looking at the outside of the car. You have to get inside, play around with the folding rear seats, and see for yourself.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk
    The Honda Fit is a much taller vehicle. It really does work in there and posts abound on the forum as examples (with pictures). I do have room inside mine for 2 bikes (rear tires fit between the seats), wheels, tools, and camping gear for two PLUS a dog.

    My Fit has a lot more headroom than my Jeep Liberty. In the Liberty, the bikes fit upright, but the seaposts have to come out. Not so on the Fit. You won't realize it looking at the outside of the car. You have to get inside, play around with the folding rear seats, and see for yourself.
    It's mostly because a genius at Honda had the idea to put the gas tank under the front row seats. This gave them plenty of space to lower the floor and with their flat folding back seat you end up with a very tall space in the back. Pretty surprising the first time you look at it. All my friends have been surprised up to now.

  18. #18
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    I have looked at the fit and with two bikes in it upright you are not going to be able to get much else in the car. Why not go with a small vehicle and roof rack and stick them up there? If you really want to have two bikes inside and room for other things you will need to go with something bigger. I have an element and it is a great all purpose hauler with a lot of space inside for what is a relatively small vehicle. But in my case i still haul my bikes on a hitch mounted rack.

    The price is hard though - Honda's just retain their value better then most other vehicles. It does mean when if you sell it down the road you will getting way more back. When i bought my Element I sold my 7.5 year old prelude with 125,000km for 12,500(CAN). So the higher initial price was worth it for sure. If you plan to drive the car into the ground this won't help you though.

  19. #19
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    We currently transport the bikes on the top of my wife's Rabbit. It works great, but I really want to transport my bikes inside of a vehicle (keeps them out of the elements and a bit further out of view of potential thieves). Plus there is so much damn wind noise with the roof rack...even with a fairing.

    I owned a Fit for about 5-days back when they first came out. It was dreadfully slow and the driver seat cushion offered no forward support for my long legs which caused great discomfort after about 30 minutes of continuous driving. I made the dealership take the car back after we noticed a terrible paint defect...appears there was some sort of contamination in the primer or the base color coat before the clear was shot. The paint had large, dark, shadowy type spots in on the left quarter panel. They took the car back and sold it to someone else for full sticker price without disclosing the defect.
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  20. #20
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    a ford focus 5 door would fit the bill. ive got one, its a decent car, and relatively cheap
    Let The Good Times Roll

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1an
    The more I look into the Mazda5 the more I'm digging it. Seems to have quite a bit of versatility yet still seems fun to drive. Think I may give one a test drive. Betting I could easily fit a couple bikes, all my gear, a cooler, etc in the back of that beast with no problem.
    Waiting to hear how your test drive goes. I think the Mazda5 is a strange little vehicle, but I would buy one if it works out right. I really want an Element though...

  22. #22
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    One car I forgot to add to the list is a '05-06 Mazda 6 wagon (great V6, great trans, excellent handling, good reliability, etc). It is a shame Mazda discontinued this in the US, but I think it may make a comeback once the new version from Europe is brought over here for the '09 model year.

    Anyone seen one of these swallow a couple upright bikes in the back?
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wish I Were Riding
    Waiting to hear how your test drive goes. I think the Mazda5 is a strange little vehicle, but I would buy one if it works out right. I really want an Element though...

    I rented a Mazda 5 for a trip to Tahoe, about 1000 miles there and back. It was pretty nice, and it got 35 mpg for the trip, pretty impressive considering its cargo capacity.

    I'd probably have bought one if we had kids, but since the nest is empty we bought an Element, great bike hauler. Wish it got the Mazda's mpg.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufudufus
    I rented a Mazda 5 for a trip to Tahoe, about 1000 miles there and back. It was pretty nice, and it got 35 mpg for the trip, pretty impressive considering its cargo capacity.

    I'd probably have bought one if we had kids, but since the nest is empty we bought an Element, great bike hauler. Wish it got the Mazda's mpg.
    Hey Rufudufus, how did it handle bikes? Did you put them inside? Does it have any power?

  25. #25
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    I currently drive a Matrix XRS, which is a great bike carrier and daily driver.
    I originally dismissed the Fit as being to small and under powered. the mpg seems low, most of the post in edmonds.com are saying low 20's for the automatic.

    after reading these post about fiting bikes into the back of the Fit and great mileage with the manual car i will have to rethink my position on this car. but for now I have mucho power (180 hp) and mpg. over 30 on the highway. 25 in city. Maybe for my next car.

    Oh yeah, I hate hybreds.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by nagatahawk
    I currently drive a Matrix XRS, which is a great bike carrier and daily driver.
    I originally dismissed the Fit as being to small and under powered. the mpg seems low, most of the post in edmonds.com are saying low 20's for the automatic.

    after reading these post about fiting bikes into the back of the Fit and great mileage with the manual car i will have to rethink my position on this car. but for now I have mucho power (180 hp) and mpg. over 30 on the highway. 25 in city. Maybe for my next car.

    Oh yeah, I hate hybreds.
    Did Toyota stop making the XRS like Pontiac stopped making the Vibe GT? Do you have any pictures of your bikes in the XRS? Or do you rack your back on top or onn back?

    Thanks.

  27. #27
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    they discontinued the Early XRS in 2006, I have the 2004, same for the Vibe GT.

    However Toyota re-released an 2008 XRS 2.5, 5 man. larger engine, 1 less gear, less mpg and slower. but the power band is better suited for matrix ahnd it now has an independent rear suspension.

    I have a Thule roof rack, and can through one large complete bike into the back with wheels and seat post.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1an
    I'm looking for a daily driver that can haul two bikes upright (front wheels removed) inside the vehicle. The Element was my 1st choice but I need something a bit cheaper (even used Elements with reasonable mileage are expensive).

    Aside from the Element, I am looking into the following vehicles:
    - used Mazda 5
    - used Subaru Forester

    Anyone here use one of these vehicles for bike transport? Can they swallow two upright bikes with the front wheels removed (one being a XL framed 29er)?

    Any other vehicle suggestions? Looking for a hatchback/crossover that gets good gas mileage and is somewhat fun to drive priced under $16k.
    you forgot to mention Kia Rondo. It is more space than mazda 5 and has more power too.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Picard
    you forgot to mention Kia Rondo. It is more space than mazda 5 and has more power too.
    But it's a Kia.

  30. #30
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    Sorry I am not really meaning to hijack this post but can someone tell me why they want to buy a car to ransport there dirty ass mountain bikes INSIDE??????. Now do not get me wrong the Vibe is close to the top of my list for a new car. I am not buying it Because I can transport 2-3 bikes inside thats what a hitch or roof top rack is for. So help me understand.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wish I Were Riding
    Hey Rufudufus, how did it handle bikes? Did you put them inside? Does it have any power?
    I wasn't carrying bikes on that trip, unforturnately. We jetted down for a wedding and had no time to play. It's definitely not as tall as the Element, so I don't know if you can get a bike in without removing the front wheel. The rearmost seats do fold perfectly flat into the floor, very cool, I'm not sure how the middle row folds.

    Power wasn't bad. Only time it felt sluggish was when I took off with the parking brake on. We only had two in the car and a little luggage, so it wasn't loaded, but it made the climb from Sacramento to Tahoe with no problem. We loaded it with 6 people to go from town to the wedding, climbing some steep hills. Wasn't a rocket but it was OK. I assumed it had a V6 until I popped the hood.

    We were supposed to have a Mazda 6 but the rental company screwed up. After driving the 5 for a while I didn't mind, even if it is a minivan---the rental agent called it a "hatchback". Doesn't feel like a van when you're driving it. And I believe you can get it with a 5-speed stick, the rental was an automatic.

  32. #32
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    I transport the bike inside when I need more security and lock the bike inside and double lock it with a Krypto lock and cable if I am going to leave it for a short time. I usually throw an old blanket down to catch dirt and mud.

    I will be mounting the bikes on the roof rack as soon as I get around converting and installing my Thule rack. Just gave back my BMW lease and bought the Matrix.

  33. #33
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    I drive an 03 Toy Matrix. Love the car. I just bought my first roof rack for it. Previously, the bike went in the back, intact, with the rear seats folded down. The stealth and security was awesome, but I got tired of moving my other cargo around to accomodate the bike.

    You will be able to fit two bikes in the back of a Matrix with the front wheels off. Probably will need to remove a seatpost on frames over 17" or so. There's a recent thread with a very ingenious home-made bike rack inside a Matrix. That's the route I would go, if I needed to get three bikes inside.

    To me, after 3+ years of having the bike INSIDE the car, the convenience of a roof rack is hard to beat. No dirt inside the car, gear stowed neatly away, rear seats intact. But, the hit on mileage, even with the rack empty, does suck.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffwlwhite
    Sorry I am not really meaning to hijack this post but can someone tell me why they want to buy a car to ransport there dirty ass mountain bikes INSIDE??????. Now do not get me wrong the Vibe is close to the top of my list for a new car. I am not buying it Because I can transport 2-3 bikes inside thats what a hitch or roof top rack is for. So help me understand.
    Security and fuel economy are probably the primary ones. I have a roof rack for most of my use, but when I need to get the bike out of sight, I put it inside. On really long trips if I don't have too much cargo, I'll also put the bikes inside. Improved fuel economy is nice when you're driving all day.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffwlwhite
    Sorry I am not really meaning to hijack this post but can someone tell me why they want to buy a car to ransport there dirty ass mountain bikes INSIDE??????. Now do not get me wrong the Vibe is close to the top of my list for a new car. I am not buying it Because I can transport 2-3 bikes inside thats what a hitch or roof top rack is for. So help me understand.
    Basically, my bike stays in the back of my Honda Fit. I take it out to ride it or maintain it. Of course, it occasionally comes out so I can shake out the moving blanket I have lining the back of the car (to catch all of the dirt and mud that falls off my bike).

    This is a much more convenient solution for me than constantly carrying it around on a roof rack or even a hitch rack. I can easily fit a single bike back there with plenty of gear for a week's trip. I have not completed the interior setup for 2 bikes - mostly because I do have a roof rack for 2 bikes.

    And, contrary to some other posts, I have the auto and I get 30 mpg around town, and I averaged 35mpg on a trip from SC to Ut last month. On that trip, I got as much as 39 mpg (but as low as 30...). I think fuel quality was a big factor in my mileage results. Once I put my roof rack with my bike and kayak, my fuel economy drops to the 23mpg range. I'm not especially pleased with that, but that is a lot of wind resistance up there.

    Overall, I like the car. I miss the V8 power of my Ram 2500 Hemi (don't miss the 12 mpg), and I miss the go-kart handling of my miata (don't miss the impracticality of the car), but this little car is the best compromise I could find.

  36. #36
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    a roof rack will reduce your mileage significantly. wouldnt' it be better to stuff the bikes inside the car.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Padre
    But it's a Kia.
    don't underestimate Kia cars now. They make reliable car according to edmunds and many car review sites.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Picard
    you forgot to mention Kia Rondo. It is more space than mazda 5 and has more power too.
    I'm not sure if the Rondo has more room or not...they are very close in size. More importantly, the Mazda has sliding rear doors, which are awesome if you have young kids. Also makes it easier to load stuff from the sides.

    In my opinion, the 5 is MUCH better looking, and has superior handling. I also prefer the 4 cyl engine in the 5. It is the same engine in the 3 and has more than enough power. Why would I need to go 0-60 in less than 9 seconds in this type of car??? I just wish Mazda would sell us the diesel version in Canada.

  39. #39
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    Thanks for all the info.

    So far it looks like the Element may be the winner. Seems much more utilitarian compared to anything else out there and the gas mileage is respectable for an SUV type vehicle of that size. The Mazda 5 is still a contender, but I just haven't had time to get out there to test drive one (although I can't see the driving dynamics being too much different than my wife's old Mazda 3 wagon). The Mazda would probably fulfill my need for a somewhat sporty daily driver.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Picard
    don't underestimate Kia cars now. They make reliable car according to edmunds and many car review sites.
    Sure..if you can find a dealer.

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    I just got back from a weekend trip. I had 2 full susp mountain bikes in the back of my 04 Forester, some bags, and camp chairs. It was a tight fit but it was dooable. We pulled the front wheel off each bike.

    I still would prefer to have a roof rack.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffwlwhite
    Because I can transport 2-3 bikes inside thats what a hitch or roof top rack is for. So help me understand.
    People transport their bikes on top of their cars?

    They might as well just throw money out the window the entire time too.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  43. #43
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    The new impreza might be an option if not already suggested. The wheel-wells are gone and allow for a good deal more sideways-room, although the actual cargo space is shorter than the previous impreza wagon. You'd have to fold down the seats and eyeball it, less overall space, but more "usable" space is how some people describe it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  44. #44
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    I was searching "Mazda5" and found my old thread from over two years ago. Just thought I'd update.

    After this thread I ended up finding a 2004 Passat Wagon. Super clean with low miles. I couldn't take my bike with me to the dealership so I did a bunch of measuring and measured out the rear cargo area. Per my measurements my bike would fit upright w/o the front wheel with no issues. Well I got it home and obviously my measurements were off...the damn thing didn't fit upright. DOH! I still sported the car for two years and used it for getting to the trailhead (folded down the seats and threw in my bike).

    Last month I decided to sell the Passat. Although the car was 100% rock solid and reliable, the maintenance was just too much. I sold the car and started looking for used Elements in the $12k range. I was stoked because I found TONS in my range. Unfortunately every single one I saw had some serious flaw (trashed interior, trashed mechanicals, or a dealer who wouldn't work with me on a price).

    This weekend I stumbled upon a '06 Mazda 5 going for $11,999. With only 18.5k miles on the odometer this thing is barely broken in. It was the touring level 5 with nav. Too good to be true, right?

    Long story short I took her home for $10,700 before taxes and whatnot. She has a little paint damage on the side but you can't see it unless you stare at the car.

    So over two years later I came full circle back to a car I originally was looking for. Finally ended up in a Mazda5. I love it so far. Not sure about the bike situation but I know it should be able to fit at least one upright in the back.
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  45. #45
    Birdman aka JMJ
    Reputation: Birdman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    1,074
    Since nobody has mentioned it yet...

    Saab 9-3 Hatchback (pre-2002)
    Saab 9-5 Wagon
    Saab 9-3 Wagon (2003+)

    I prefer to transport the bikes on top, but I've had them in the hatch on occasion.

    My wife could fit her extra small fully MTB in her VW GTi GLX with only the front wheel removed, standing up.

  46. #46
    local jackass
    Reputation: biggoofy1's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
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    932
    jeep grand cherokee i can fit 3 bikes fairly easy
    His
    2010 FSR XC
    2010 ALLEZ
    Hers
    2012 Myka 29'r
    2009 Cannondale Synapse 5
    Down East Cyclists

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