Hitch mounted cargo carriers?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Accessories & Modifications' started by brick, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. brick

    brick Active Member

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    Has anybody here had much experience carrying extra cargo on a hitch-mounted rack?How does the car drive with up to 200lb (which is the rated tongue weight everywhere else in the world) cantilevered off the back? I'm wrestling with a need for more space, and getting something like that looks like an economical way free up a few cubic feet in the cabin for the 10-12 times a year we pack all the dogs and the requisite junk into the car for a road trip. Economics aside, I wonder if I would be happier and safer with a roof pod and a few hundred miles of crappy fuel economy. Option C is to trade one of our two Prius (probably mine) for a bigger car, and I'm trying to avoid that if I can.
     
  2. Obxmush

    Obxmush Member

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    There's always the V. Stay in the Prius family
     
  3. brick

    brick Active Member

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    I would love to trade up to a V, but spending $25 to 30k on a new car isn't in the cards for me right now. It's either make ours work for us or trade for something bigger and significantly less efficient (but more affordable). I only drive about 9,000mi per year including those road trips so I would be driving whatever we got.
     
  4. Obxmush

    Obxmush Member

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    Ok. I saw the trade in part and assumed it was in the cards. I have a Yakima rack for hauling my kayaks around. It kills the mileage, but a 'cheap' alternative. I gotta setup on etrailers.com I think it was $160 with free shipping. That was the towers, clips and bars. I am putting a hitch on it soon so I can tow around a hot dog cart in building.
     
  5. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    I got the 2" receiver hitch ($149 now) from coastaltech for my 2004 soon after I got the car figuring I would need extra cargo capability. It uses the same bolts that hold the tie down brackets on the car (replacing the brackets) and comes in 2 parts. One is a bracket for the left side of the car ( you need to temporarily remove some plastic under the car). I leave that one bolted in. The rest is the right side bracket and the receiver bar which bolts to the left bracket. I take that one off because we don't want to be hauling unnecessary weight now do we?? I went with 2" since you can always knock down to 1 1/4 but I wouldn't put a 2" 'accessory' in a 1 1/4" receiver. Plus, I figured a 2" would be a stronger overall structure.

    I got the Masterbuilt 45" wide cargo carrier - $106 now. It has a 'step up' receiver bar which easily clears the rear bumper, no worries dragging the back of it on the road if you turn up a driveway. At 45" it is not as wide as the car so there is no drag. I also don't know now much it weighs but it is NOT light. I put some red and white reflectors on the tray so people would notice it at night. Don't know if that was necessary. I also got an expandable rooftop bag so I could keep things clean and dry on the tray.

    I've only needed to use it once in 8 years You can get a LOT in a Prius when you plan and pack carefully :) It was a 3 hour trip, 3 people in the car on the way there so I didn't need the tray, it traveled in the hatch with the rest of our stuff and stayed there while the car was parked at the train station for 5 days. 4 people on the way back. I don't know how much weight was in it but certainly no where near the 300# capacity, probably not even 100#. I needed volume, not more weight. Car handled fine, got 50 MPG both ways so the extra person (90 pounds) and her stuff and the tray out back didn't affect the MPG. Just needed to remember I was longer than usual. Remember that the cargo AND people capacity of the car is 850#.

    Personally, I'd rather have something bolted to the frame out back than strapped to the roof. Seems like it would be more securely attached, no lifting overhead while balancing on the door sill, little to no MPG hit and you can get to your stuff more easily at a rest area.
     
  6. brick

    brick Active Member

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    Bruce - Thanks for the feedback. On Monday afternoon I ordered a 1 1/4 inch receiver hitch, a 48" step-up rack, and a cargo bag to keep things dry. Overall that's pretty similar to what you have, so I'm glad at least one other person has done this successfully. It's funny that you mention the reflectors because I had exactly the same thought! The last thing I need is someone clipping the rack at night because they didn't see it. I may go as far as to cut down a couple of my blaze orange driveway markers if I can find a secure way to mount them to the back corners. Today's drivers seem to need all the help they can get, and never run out of excuses.

    I also agree on the capacity thing. Our Prius have done well with two adults, two 60lb dogs, and enough junk for a week away. But now we are holding at three dogs of our own plus the occasional foster pup, and we really need to free up interior room so that they can be comfortable and we can feel humane. A few times in the last year we have just taken both Prius. Mathematically it's actually sensible to have two ludicrously efficient cars and take them both on a half dozen medium-haul trips per year. But it's not fun, and it feels like a silly thing to do.

    I'll post back with results once I get the setup installed. At <$400 for the whole thing I'll be pretty psyched if it keeps me out of a thirstier daily driver.
     
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  7. tlkcpa13

    tlkcpa13 Junior Member

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    Curious, how did it work out? I am thinking of similar set up for my 2012 Three. I was concerned tongue weight was too little (200#). Do they even make 2" receivers for the Prius? Thanks.
     
  8. usnavystgc

    usnavystgc Die Hard DIYer and Ebike enthusiast.

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    I don't know if they do but, you can alway weld a 2" square tube to whatever size receiver you get and "step up" the size by doing that. It will make the hitch a little longer but, it will work.
     
  9. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    Perhaps I shouldn't say this out loud (so I'll just type it, instead) . . . You could rent a minivan, station wagon or even a SUV (that was a whisper) for the weekend. It certainly would be cheaper than replacing one Prius with a less efficient car you really only need a couple of times each year (yet have to pay for all the time).
     
  10. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Torklift does, for the entire Prius line. Others have made them for both generations of the Liftback as well.
     
  11. brick

    brick Active Member

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    It didn't work well. All that weight hanging off the back (probably 120lb in our case including the rack itself) made for some really scary handling. It was OK in the dry, but it really wanted to break loose in the wet. I gave up on the concept.

    Actually, we gave up on the 2-Prius concept entirely. We aren't talking 1-2 times a year that we need more space. It's more like monthly at this point. I found a 3.5 y/o Volvo V70 wagon for a very reasonable price, and it's sitting in the garage now. It's inefficient compared to the Prius, but it's huge inside and it still drives like a car (because it is). For the 9,000mi a year that I'm down to, which is a 50/50 split between commuting and road tripping, it isn't as insane a decision as most around here are likely to think. Plus, no more horrible seats and ridiculous driving position.
     
  12. tlkcpa13

    tlkcpa13 Junior Member

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    I think I for you it was the right choice but I personally love everything about my Prius III. I know could get away with it (hitch, cargo carrier etc.) but for now I am going to delay my decision. My car cost me way too much $$ to take a chance. Time and necessity may change my mind down the road...
     
  13. brick

    brick Active Member

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    Having experienced the rack, I suggest that you skip it (except perhaps for a bike rack, which seems to work fine for most people) and go straight for a roof rack and pod. Your FE will drop more with it mounted but you won't have the wonky handling problem. If you use it frequently, be a little more aggressive about oil and transaxle fluid changes to compensate for the extra stress on the drivetrain. I might have gone that route myself if I hadn't been so near the breaking point on being uncomfortable all the time.
     
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  14. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    Thank you for sharing the whole thought process and experience on PC. It has helped me approach our pending purchase. We need to replace our 2005 Sienna (someday), and we had been unable to pull the trigger on a second Prius mainly because of the size constraints. Now that the Prius v is available, we'll take another look. It has a huge increase in cargo space over the Prius Hatchback, the back seat is wider (and adjustable, including reclining seats), and the seats are much more comfortable than the regular Prius (though I've not had an issue with the front seats of our 2010).

    My question: If buying new now were "in the cards," would you believe the Prius v could do the job for you? Or would you be inclined to keep the money for other things and stick with the slightly used Volvo wagon (or a new Volvo)? I've really enjoyed the highway driving of the Volvo sport wagons, the seats are nice, and the space is good, so I understand the attraction. In terms of size, the only really significant difference in space is the seating width in the second seat. Otherwise, the two cars have very similar cargo capacity. Again, width seems to be the factor in measuring space (the Volvo is more than 8 inches longer, but the wheelbases are similar). It is tough for me to ignore the fuel economy difference.
     
  15. brick

    brick Active Member

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    It's hard to say what I would have done. If money were truly no object, saving fuel is still something that I care about enough to have seriously considered a Prius v even if it doesn't make strict financial sense. (I never bothered to do the TCO comparison between the two, so I don't know. I suspect it's not that far apart over 5 years depending on the assumptions made. The fact that I turn my own wrenches makes it a little easier on the Volvo, which is unlikely to be as trouble-free as the Prius has been.) I think the v would have done the job of hauling given that it's the right shape, and nominal cargo, total cargo, and total volume are only 2.6cf, 4.8cf, and 3.5cf less than the Volvo, respectively.

    As for comfort, I honestly have no idea. I didn't spend the hours of seat time that it would have taken to determine if a v could be a go in that department. Given past experience, the v would have had to have been much better than "good enough" in the comfort and ergonomics area for me to write a check. Being comfortable is nice, but I'm only now coming to understand how hard the 2G had been on my body. The pain in my right knee that had plagued me continuously for the last two or three years...every day...gone since a few days after I traded the car. I expected to feel better but not **that kind** of better. I guess 45 minutes to an hour a day in a bad position can do real harm over time.
     
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  16. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    Thanks, Brick. Excellent reminder of the other "costs" associated with vehicle maintenance and use.

    I do very minimal car work anymore. With my older VW and Honda, I did all of the routine stuff. Now, I do hardly anything, so reliability has tremendous extra value for me. Age also brings a different way of looking at seat comfort! Volvos have always had comfortable (not soft) seating, so I suspect the V70 would have it over the Prius v in that department. Whether it is enough to overcome the added maintenance costs expected from the Volvo is a matter of personal judgment (and taste, I suppose).

    For me, the Gen II was just fine in terms of long-distance and regular driving, but the Gen III was a real step up. The Prius v seating seemed even better to me, but that is only sitting in a showroom car. I'll need to test drive to really get a better idea. If it passes there, then it must pass my wife's test driving and, finally, the kids' back seat analyses. (Getting pretty off-track for hitch-mounted carriers, but I am evaluating other cars with that in mind, also.)
     
  17. brick

    brick Active Member

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    For whatever it's worth, I roughed-out a TCO advantage of about $2,000 in favor of the Volvo over 5 years assuming a couple of significant repairs that I wouldn't have expected to endure with a Prius v. The biggest drivers are significantly lower upfront cost and less subsequent depreciation in favor of the used Volvo vs. probably half the fuel cost letting the v catch up a bit. In the grand scheme of things, that isn't a huge amount of money. I'm more apt to sleep at night without a car payment, someone else (especially someone who drives more than I do) might be happier with better fuel mileage and not have an issue with ergo.

    It's all relevant to the thread as far as I'm concerned. This was about trying to find an optimal transportation solution. The problem just became a bit broader than expected on account of an unanticipated safety concern that couldn't be overlooked.
     
  18. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    $2,000 is a pretty good stash of cheese. If all other things are equal, it's a no-brainer. If you prefer the drive/comfort/space of the Volvo and get a $2,000 advantage, then you've freed up a Prius v for someone whose been very eager to buy one and given yourself a financial break.
     
  19. maestro8

    maestro8 Nouveau Member

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    Wow, that's quite a lot of weight!

    As a point of comparison, my teardrop trailer's tongue weight is closer to 75 lbs. That much weight does make the ride a little more bumpy, but the handling is still manageable. I'm not driving much faster than 60 mph, especially in the curves, but I'm never worried that the car is going to leave the road.

    Time to upgrade the rear suspension...
     
  20. bruceha_2000

    bruceha_2000 Senior Member

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    Read my post two above yours. I have a 2" receiver from CoastalTech.
     
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