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Question: I'm wondering what you recommend for a Thule roof rack on a 2011 Kia Sportage 4-door. It doesn't have a factory rack or raised side rails or anything on the rooftop right now (although there are flush side rails that run from front to back on each side of the roof). I want to then attach a roof box, bike rack and kayak carrier to the car rack crossbars.
Answer: As of this writing (3/11/2011), we highly recommend the following configuration from Thule Racks for your 2011 Kia Sportage...
Your 2011 Kia Sportage 4-door has what are known as flush side rails, instead of the raised side rails (where there is space between the side rails and the roof top). Instead, your rails are flush with the rooftop without any space between the roof and the side rails. We highly recommend the Thule 460 Podium roof rack system (includes a Thule 460 Podium Foot Pack, set of 4009 Podium Fit Kit brackets and a pair of load bars with end caps). This is a superb system specifically designed to mount to your flush side rails. Simple installation (easy to follow instructions included), each of the four Thule 4009 Fit Kit brackets attaches to each of the four Thule 460 Podium Feet and the assembly clamps right onto the flush side rails. You now have a rock solid multi-purpose base rack foundation with cross bars to attach any gear carriers to. The 58 inch length cross bars are recommended for allowing enough room to attach the cargo box, bike and kayak carriers.
Additionally, you have the option to also use the Thule 460R Rapid Podium roof rack system (includes a Thule 460R Rapid Podium Foot Pack, set of 4009 Podium Fit Kit brackets and a pair of RB47 47" Rapid Aero load bars with end caps). This system works exactly the same way as the regular 460 Podium roof rack system except that you will be using the premium Thule Rapid Aero load bars instead of the classic square load bars included with the regular 460 Podium roof rack system. You will use the same Thule 4009 Podium Fit Kit with the Thule 460R Rapid Podium Foot Pack. The Thule RB47 47" Rapid Aero load bars are the recommended length for your vehicle. Unlike the regular 460 Podium system, which allows you to choose from different length load bars options, you must use the specific Rapid Aero loadbars Thule specifies are the correct length for your vehicle. So in your case, using the RB47 Rapid Aero load bars may not provide enough length along the bars to attach all your gear carriers. So you would have to go with the regular 460 Podium system.
With either of these base rack systems installed, you can then connect any bike, kayak and cargo box carriers to the cross bars. Most gear carriers are universal mounting, allowing you to choose the model that you like best, independent of whether it is the same manufacturer as the base rack system. Each product page will specify what base rack system cross bars the gear carrier is compatible with. Please note that if you are using the Thule 460R Rapid Podium roof rack system, some Thule bike carriers require the use of a Thule Xadapt Kit to mount the carrier to the Rapid Aero load bars. Each Thule bike rack product page specifies if a Thule Xadapt Kit is required or not with the bike rack. All Thule bike carriers will mount directly to the square load bars included with the regular Thule 460 Podium roof rack system.
Here is a good picture of an example set up for a cargo box, kayak and bike carrier on a pair of 58” cross bars. From Thule Racks you will want to use a narrow box such as the 685XT Atlantis 1200 or Thule 602 Ascent roof boxes. Any j-cradle style kayak rack will work great. Also any bike racks will fit nicely on the Thule cross bars as well.
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