Best Roof Rack for Subaru Impreza

In Gear by Tanner V.

The Subaru Impreza is the perfect vehicle for just about everything in life. This ideal daily driver mixes performance with functionality that can take you wherever your life may lead.

However, there is one need that a compact car simply cannot meet - storage space. Adding a roof rack can solve this problem and add serious style to the appearance of the vehicle.

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About the Author
Hi Everyone! My name is Tanner, and I am the founder of kayamping.net. I started this website as an outlet to pursue my hobby of kayaking, camping, and exploring the world at large. Every post here is written and curated by me so stop-in, have a read, leave a comment, and most importantly, get going on your next adventure!

What You Should Know About Roof Racks in 30 seconds.

Roof racks consist of three primary components that you should know about before you buy one:

  1. Roof rails - Run from hood to trunk and connect to the crossbars
  2. Crossbars - Run from door to door and connect the roof to the cargo basket or rack
  3. Cargo Basket or Rack - The final attachment to carry items.

Note: Roof rails are not required to have crossbars. However, you must have crossbars for a cargo basket or other rack.

Subaru Impreza Roof Weight Limit

Just because you buy crossbars that can transport 500lbs. doesn't mean your Impreza's roof can support it! The roof rack is only as strong as it's weakest part.

Best Aerodynamic Crossbar for Impreza

Whispbar Railbar

The Whispbar railbar mounts easily to the existing roof rails on the subaru forester.

Specification:

  • Dimensions: Dimensions: 49.6" - 60"L x 6.7"W x 5.9"H
  • Material: Aluminum Construction

  • Weight Capacity: 165 lb./75 kg.
  • Colors: Silver

Pros & Cons

  • Quietest crossbar on the market
  • Sleek design
  • T-Slots with QuickDock technology
  • Rebranded as Yakima Flushbar in 2015

Our Thoughts

The Whispbar is quite simply, the greatest crossbar ever designed. It is an improvement upon all rival crossbars by offering owners the quietest ride possible. The secret lies in the wing-shape of the crossbar that slices through the air with extremely low drag.

If you don't trust me, think about this. Whispbar started as a New Zealand based start-up that sold only the Whispbar. After multiple years of success, they were purchased by the industry giant, Yakima. With all of Yakima's resources they could not replicate Whispbar's success so they just bought the company!

The perfect crossbar to support a Subaru Forester Roof Rack

Whispbar represents someone looking at the complaints of users and answering the call. The blades are so quiet you won't even know they are there.

The value on these bars is astonishing. The price point puts them in the premium category of crossbars but not by much. Crossbars are an investment and should be treated as such because they will often outlive the life of the vehicle.

The sturdy 165 lb. weight capability gives it the strength to handle any load you throw at it. Your getting a sleek, light weight crossbar capable of carrying any load you hand it.


Our Runner-Up

Yakima JetStream


  • Wind Tunnel Tested

Specification:

  • Dimensions: (50, 60, 70)"L x 2.75"W x 1.1"H
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Compatible with all StreamLine System towers
  • Colors: Black or Silver

Pros & Cons

  • Carrying Capacity: 165 lb./74.8 kg.
  • Precision Aerodynamic Shape
  • T-Slot with SmartFill technology
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Our Thoughts

The Jetstream headlines the new "StreamLine System" of roof racks launched in 2016 by Yakima. Featuring JetFlow technology (teardrop shaped), this aerobar quietly cuts through the air with minimal drag. While not as quite as the Whispbar, this crossbar outperforms the rest of the market.

The lightweight all aluminum construction features multiple inner chambers coined JetStruss technology to withstand loads up to 165 pounds. Offered in two colors (silver or black), this stylish crossbar set boosts the appeal of most modern vehicles while adding functionality to boot.

The internal JetStruss construction makes the JetStream stronger than the aluminum structure looks.

Along the top and bottom of the JetStream runs T-Slot channels manufactured to accommodate lightning fast attachment and removal of accessories like kayak racks, bike racks, and cargo boxes. To maintain the aerodynamics of the bar, the T-Slots are covered by a rubber stripping that slips down into the channel when in use and pops back into place when not. Known as SmartFill,  this seamless transition is adored by consumers for removing the need to custom trim the rubber stripping for each new accessory.

Timberline towers connect to the raised roof rails of the Subaru Forester.

To fit your Subaru Forester the 50" length bar will work for both the front and rear crossbar spans. You will need the Timberline Towers for raised roof rails and the Skyline for the naked roof (base model).

Best Budget Crossbar for Subaru Impreza

Brightlines

Brightlines created an affordable aero crossbar for the Subaru Forester.

Specification:

  • Dimensions: Custom fit to Impreza
  • Material: Galvanized Steel with vinyl wrap coating

  • Railbar so no feet required
  • Colors: Black

Pros & Cons

  • Low price makes for great entry-level rack
  • Looks identical to OEM Subaru bars
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • No T-Slots
  • Impacts fuel economy more than premium bars

Our Thoughts

Brightlines really filled a niche with the creation of these Subaru Impreza specific crossbars. They are an easy and cheap entry-point perfect for first time crossbar users or people who will use the bar infrequently. The simple wing-shape produces little noise and frankly gets the job done.

Unlike other aftermarket bars, Brightlines already did the measuring for you. These bars adjust only a few inches either way because they were designed specifically for the Impreza. This makes installation quick and painless, usually under 20 minutes from box to roof top.

Brightline's crossbars are compatible with a variety of carriers for all sorts of transportation.

Like all things in the automotive world, there are companies that create identical products to the OEM at fractions of the cost. The Brightlines Aerobar for the Subaru Impreza did exactly this. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who could tell the difference between these and the OEM bars.

The Brightlines crossbars feature 150lbs of carrying capacity and a sleek aerodynamic design that stays quiet even at highway speeds. Although they do make more noise than the crossbar mentioned above, they are still a vast improvement upon round or square bars.

This product does not have T-slots so none of those products will work. However, all other major brands and accessories should fit just fine.

Roof Racks for Subaru Impreza


In the segment above, you learned about the best crossbars on the market. Now we step into, what the best roof racks are so you can get to carrying more gear! All of these roof racks are compatible with any of the crossbars mentioned earlier.

1

Best Roof Basket for Subaru Impreza

Rhino Rack Cargo Basket

Top Choice

Rhino Rack Cargo basket fits the Subaru Impreza's roof setup.

Our Score

9.3
Durability
9/10
Storage Capacity
8/10
Value
9/10
Construction
10/10
Appeal
10/10

from $275.40

Check on Amazon

What We Like:

  • Carrying Capacity: 165 lb./75 kg.
  • Design lines match Impreza styling
  • Mounting bracket bolts do not intrude into basket

What We Don't:

  • High basket walls secure gear, but may be difficult to load
  • Interior space smaller than competitive baskets

The Rhino Rack Cargo basket sits at the sweet spot of price point and functionality. It offers more utility than most of the premium carriers with a cost more similar to the budget brands. Compared to other top picks like the Yakima LoadWarrior or Thule Canyon, the Rhino has the highest carrying capacity at 165 lbs. Couple that with 9in. high walls and this thing can haul any type of gear.

The Rhino Rack has universal crossbar adapters, which means it will fit almost any crossbar set on the market. The adapters consist of brackets that were cleverly engineered by the manufacturer to not impact the baskets floor. Other cargo basket have the crossbar brackets annoyingly rise up through the basket and force gear to rest on the bolts. This leaves cargo susceptible to tears and snags.

As is the case with all cargo carriers, owners will experience a loss of 1-2 MPGs and can expect wind noise at interstate speeds. This basket performs about average in that category even with the flashy wind fairing. Creative owners can add a homemade fairing slanted in the opposite direction to direct air underneath the rack. This improvement will drastically decrease wind noise for this basket or any others.

Overall the Rhino Rack roof mount cargo basket is an appealing addition to any car. It can handle behemoth loads at lower than industry prices. The lines on the basket compliments the design line on modern vehicles so this roof rack has both town and country appeal.

Key Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 43"L x 32"W x 9"H
  • Material: Steel
  • Universal crossbar compatibility
  • Colors: Black

Runner-Up Roof Rack

Yakima LoadWarrior


  • Wind Tunnel Tested

Specification:

  • Dimensions: 44"L x 39"W x 6.5"H
  • Material: Steel
  • Universal crossbar compatibility
  • Colors: Black
  • Carrying Capacity: 140 lb.

Pros & Cons

  • Easy Installation
  • Perfect for all seasons
  • Quality parts and quality product
  • High price for high quality

Our Thoughts

This high end cargo basket produced by the roof rack juggernaut Yakima, represents the premium category of car-top baskets. The LoadWarrior is the perfect year-round roof rack for the everyday adventurer. Complete with a windscreen to lower wind noise, this cargo basket fits nicely on any vehicle.

Yakima LoadWarrior picture reveals its gear hauling capability.

Engineered by Yakima means designed with the consumer in mind. Out of the box this rack requires very little assembly, which means installation is a breeze.

The LoadWarrior is a one stop shop for those interested in gaining additional storage space. It has finished second in our rankings but only marginally. The Rhino Rack offers more carry capacity at a cheaper price, but the two carriers function the same otherwise.

Best Budget Roof Rack for Subaru Impreza

CURT 18115

Picture of CURT 18115 showing off its ability to handle any equipment there is.

Specification:

  • Dimensions: 41.5"L x 37"W x 4"H
  • Material: Steel

  • Universal crossbar compatibility
  • Colors: Black
  • Carrying Capacity: 150 lb.

Pros & Cons

  • Low, low, low price
  • Extremely tough and sturdy
  • Supplied nuts and bolts are cheap – easily stripped
  • Adding new paint and sealant on bolts is necessary for all seasons use

Our Thoughts

The CURT 18115 roof rack embodies functionality without sacrificing form. The tough looking box hauls an impressive 150lbs. of gear while only weighing a minimal 31lbs. High carrying capacity plus low carrier weight enables you the maximize your vehicles roof hauling capability.

Giving even the best roof racks a run for their money, the CURT just gets it done.

Stacked up against the premium brand cargo carries, the CURT's similar size but considerably lower price point makes it an excellent option for those on a budget. You might be asking "so why would I pay for a carrier 3x its price?"

The CURT is the ultimate cost saving roof rack basket.

The answer is the quality of the support parts. The basket itself is high strength steel coated in black paint to prevent rust. The provided mounting hardware does not have the same rust resistance, however there is a solution. You can either purchase different nuts and bolts of the same size or coat the manufacturer's parts in a new layer of paint.

If you're willing to roll up your sleeves a little bit you can get a cargo basket competitive with brands like Thule, Yakima, or Rhino for fractions of the price.

The Impreza's Roof Set-Up

All You Need to Know

Even if you decide our recommendations are not for you, this section will contain all the information you need to select a roof rack that will work for your Crosstrek.

The Subaru Crosstrek is offered in four different models: Base, Limited, Premium, and Hybrid. All of these models except the Hybrid have black raised roof rails. The Hybrid features European style, low profile black gloss rails with black end caps.

This different roof rails styles will require different feet for each crossbar. The bar itself can be the same, but the attachment points to the roof rails will be different between the Hybrid and other models.

Subaru updated the Crosstrek for their 2018 model. It has the same bones, but with improved styling like better dashboard electronics, new grille, essentially cosmetic and minor functionality improvements. The roof and its dimensions are unchanged. As a result, this guide covers Subaru Crosstrek’s from 2013 - 2022ish (exact design change TBD).

Dimensions of Crosstrek Roof Rails

We took three measurement points to because the crossbar positioning will largely be up to you. Just make sure the bars can handle the maximum and minimum distance. The roof is not a perfect square so the roof rails are closer together near the trunk and grow further apart as you approach the windshield.

Front: 43-44" Middle: 40-41" Rear: 38.75-40”

Crosstrek Roof Weight Limit

  1. The Crosstrek’s factory roof rails can safely support 150 lb. of weight including the weight of the crossbars. 150 lb. is the dynamic weight rating meaning the amount of weight safe to drive around with. The Crosstrek’s roof can support more than that weight, but only while the vehicle is parked.

<p style="text-align: center;">BRIGHTLINES Aero Crossbars Roof Racks Replacement for 2018-2020 Subaru Crosstrek & 2017-2020 Impreza</p>

Roof Rack Considerations


Weight

All vehicles have posted weight ratings for their roofs. This is the total amount of weight that can safely be on top of the car while it is in-transit. Crossbars and roof racks are included in the weight rating calculation meaning the more these items weigh the less gear you can bring.

The Subaru Crosstrek has a posted weight rating of  XXXX. A crossbar of 20 lbs. now reduces the Crosstrek's carrying capacity to XXX. Add on a cargo carrier of 25 lbs. and this means you can only load only XXX lbs. of gear, safely on top of the Subaru.

Be thinking of the average amount gear weight you will want to transport and purchase roof rack accessory to support that.

Material

The material that your roof rack is made from will often determine the longevity of the item itself. In most cases, steel will be your best bet for purchasing roof rack items because it will last forever and can handle a beating.

Steel doesn't bend or break, and it can endure years of weathering before showing any signs of fatigue. If you are going to choose a steel roof rack, make sure it has a powder-coating to prevent rust. Surfaces not covered by a protective paint layer will deteriorate far quicker than the rest of the unit. Even worse, is the copper-brown rust stains could bleed onto your car and ruin its paint job.

Wind Noise

Car manufacturers pay entire teams of engineers to design vehicles with as little drag as possible. We have all seen commercials depicting scientists in white coats observing their latest vehicle model in a wind tunnel test. The smooth lines are a vehicle are there to reduce air turbulance, which equals a quieter ride and better fuel economy for their customers.

Unfortunately, auto manufacturers sell roof racks as an add-on accessory after purchase. This allows them to perform govenmental fuel economy regulation tests without accounting for roof rack wind noise. For consumers, this means roof racks do not get the same level of engineering as the rest of the car.

Adding any kind of accessory to the exterior of a car will add some noise and fuel economy losses. The degree of impact varies with each product, but simply put the more accessory the greater the impact.

If wind noise or fuel economy are high priorities for you, selecting roof racks that are easily detachable is the best choice.

Installation

Installing any of the products recommended in this guide, does not take a master mechanic or even your go to handy man. All products of installation manuals and there are tons of Youtube videos that can show you how to do it step by step.

The Crosstrek makes installation easier than your average car because of the raised roof rails. The space between roof and rail allow for crossbars to grab the bar all the way around. Installation for these type of connections is often much easier than other crossbar connection methods.

Carrying Capacity

You are going to want to ensure the rack you buy can accommodate all the things you plan to transport with some room to breathe. Once you get the capacity to fully use your Crosstrek’s roof, things you never knew about will need to be loaded on there.

To get a complete look at the capacity of the roof rack, you will want to look primarily at the weight carrying capacity and storage space volume. Sometimes it is not the pure weight of something that makes it difficult to carry, the shape plays a role too. A cargo carrier is designed to keep the elements out, but it comes with restrictions on shape.

Lastly, take a look at whether the weather will play a role. Do you want to put suitcase on the roof or gas canisters? The suit cases need to stay dry in order for you to have a good vacation, but gas canisters can handle the rain.