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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know of a low-profile roof rack that does not use crossbars?
I'm in the middle of a light-duty overland build and looking at roof-rack options.
Thanks in advance.
 

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I don't have any personal experience with them but you can see what Rhino Rack has for options. Otherwise with the 12 threaded bolt holes on the inside edge of the factory rails its pretty darn easy to roll your own custom rack. Mine was homemade to start with but its a little problematic making it "low profile" because the Compass roofline is not flat, so you end up with weird gaps. It's also not the same width from front to back, the rails are a bit tapered. So while making a functional rack is easy, making one that is elegant requires more finesse and metalworking. The roof is very small and does not hold much anyways, and the 2.4 motor power pushed through the 9 speed transmission gets rather upset when you start adding to the wind resistance on the roof... it very quickly kills the Compass highway MPG and, if yours is geared like mine, causes it to short-shift back and forth between 7th and 8th gear endlessly which raises transmission temps. Mine has the 3.73 final drive and it can barely hold 8th gear with nothing in or on the car except for myself. Any type of hill or brisk wind causes mine to drop to 7th for a moment and then it tries to go back to 8th. Add cargo to the roof and then it does that back and forth forever even on flat ground with a tailwind until you put it in autostick mode and force it to hold 7th. Trailhawk trims have a better final drive gear ratio and don't have this problem as much but its still an issue, especially if you add bigger heavier tires to boot.

If it were me I would consider making a custom rack at just the back of the Compass roof, using only the rearmost 8 mounting holes I would make a mount on it for just the spare tire and put it up there with a vinyl cover on it. That would free up a bunch of room inside under the rear floor for gear. Still going to drag some MPG but it might not be too bad with only a tire up there. I would not want to carry fuel, tools, coolers, etc on the Compass roof. The factory rails don't seem to be attached well and there is hardly any usable space anyways. Better off with a hitch-mounted cargo rack that has some locking totes and a jerry can holder (be sure to put that on the non-exhaust/drivers side...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, I do have a Trailhawk and understand about the wind resistance killing gas mileage. Just putting my mountain bike on the back drops it down 2mpg. I was looking for something slim like the Rhino-Rack or DV8, but not much aftermarket support for these. I need the rack for just a few rotopacks and maybe traction boards, nothing too heavy. I want to free up some interior room, I am also building a rear-mounted tire carrier and rotopack mount based on a Thule T2 hitch and backbone assembly mechanism. It should be pretty slick when I'm done. Even at 22mpg with a roof rack, It will still be better than my wife's Gladiator at 17mpg.
 

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You are of course free to deck out your machine in whatever way suits you. For me, the extremely low likelihood of needing the spare tire is why I would put that on top, and I'd put stuff that I will actually use on a rear rack. Rear tire carriers always end up blocking access to opening the rear hatch and have to be dropped or swung out of the way. I personally refuse to deal a dozen times a day with dropping or swinging the spare tire that I almost never, ever will end up needing out of the way so I can get into my gear in the back of the car. Other stuff like coolers or jerry cans on a rear rack can be there and still leave plenty of room for the hatch to open without moving or swinging anything.

For example, not to pick on this member, but this is a straight example of something unrealistic that I am not willing to deal with:


You have to swing that whole thing out of the way to get to the gear space in the back, day in and day out. No good for me, I'm into the back of my car 12 times a day when camping. Odds are I won't need the tire more than once in my ownership of the car, it simply does not have to be that accessible. Then I find the idea of the high-lift jack laughable... Where exactly on this plastic-bumpered unibody car does he think he is going to lift with that? The answer is nowhere. There are no usable lift points on this car for a high lift. Whether you throw one on your roof or your rear carrier, either way its straight out of mall-crawler central. This is not overland, this is poserland... Gotta call 'em like I see 'em.

This, on the other hand, is realistic:
Plant Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle Car Hood


You've got a bunch of stuff, but you can still open and shut the hatch at will. Once you unload the flat top of the case bolted to the rack is a handy table for certain things. I've never observed any MPG loss from having the rear rack on, and its gone on 2000+ mile trips. The MPG loss with our Thule box on the roof however, on the same 2000 mile trip gets pretty expensive...

That's just my two cents though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You are of course free to deck out your machine in whatever way suits you. For me, the extremely low likelihood of needing the spare tire is why I would put that on top, and I'd put stuff that I will actually use on a rear rack. Rear tire carriers always end up blocking access to opening the rear hatch and have to be dropped or swung out of the way. I personally refuse to deal a dozen times a day with dropping or swinging the spare tire that I almost never, ever will end up needing out of the way so I can get into my gear in the back of the car. Other stuff like coolers or jerry cans on a rear rack can be there and still leave plenty of room for the hatch to open without moving or swinging anything.

For example, not to pick on this member, but this is a straight example of something unrealistic that I am not willing to deal with:


You have to swing that whole thing out of the way to get to the gear space in the back, day in and day out. No good for me, I'm into the back of my car 12 times a day when camping. Odds are I won't need the tire more than once in my ownership of the car, it simply does not have to be that accessible. Then I find the idea of the high-lift jack laughable... Where exactly on this plastic-bumpered unibody car does he think he is going to lift with that? The answer is nowhere. There are no usable lift points on this car for a high lift. Whether you throw one on your roof or your rear carrier, either way its straight out of mall-crawler central. This is not overland, this is poserland... Gotta call 'em like I see 'em.

This, on the other hand, is realistic:
View attachment 15685

You've got a bunch of stuff, but you can still open and shut the hatch at will. Once you unload the flat top of the case bolted to the rack is a handy table for certain things. I've never observed any MPG loss from having the rear rack on, and its gone on 2000+ mile trips. The MPG loss with our Thule box on the roof however, on the same 2000 mile trip gets pretty expensive...

That's just my two cents though.
Good points, That's why I'm here to round up some ideas.
 
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