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How to Choose a Bike Rack for a Sedan or Hatchback

If you drive a sedan such as a Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cruze, and Dodge Charger, the following racks will work well for you. You can choose from among hitch-mounted, roof-mounted, or trunk-mounted rack styles.


Learn more about these three main types of bike racks:








Hitch-Mounted Bike Racks

Thule hitch-mounted bicycle carrier on sedan with bike Thule hitch-mounted bike rack

Hitch-mounted bike racks are easy to mount and remove from your car - you just slide them into or out of a hitch and secure them with a pin or lock. Bikes are usually easy to load, too, on hitch-mounted racks because you don't have to lift the bikes very high or remove any wheels. The only contact these racks have with a car is at the hitch, so you won't risk damaging your vehicle's paint. If you need to open the trunk of your vehicle while the rack is installed, consider a folding or swing-away rack. These models either tilt down or swing out on hinges to allow you to get into your car's trunk or hatch.


If your car doesn't have a hitch, you can install one. Most hitches can be installed with basic hand tools and don't require drilling into your car. See our fitguide to find a custom-fit hitch for your car.


Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Easy to mount bikes
  • Large capacity - up to 5 bikes
  • No damage to vehicle finish

Cons:

  • Interferes with trunk access
  • Requires a hitch
  • Prevents use of hitch for towing





Roof-Mounted Racks

Thule roof-mounted bicycle carrier on sedan with bike Swagman roof-mounted bike rack

Roof-mounted bike racks attach to a car's crossbars, so they keep your bikes up out of your way. This makes it easy to open the trunk or hatch of your vehicle whenever you need to, which is handy, especially if you haul bikes frequently. Roof racks can be left on your car when you're not using them, and you'll hardly notice they are there.


You can carry more than 1 bike on your roof; however, you'll need a rack for each bike. The maximum number of bikes that you can carry will be limited by the width of your vehicle's crossbars and the maximum capacity of both the crossbars and your car's roof. And keep in mind that if you want to carry more than 2 bikes, you'll have to mount some of them near the center of your vehicle's roof, which means that you will have to hold a bike out far from your body to load it. This can be difficult for some people.


If your sedan doesn't have crossbars, you can have them installed or install them yourself. See our fitguide to find a custom-fit rack for your vehicle.


Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Allows full access to back of vehicle
  • No damage to vehicle finish

Cons:

  • Bike loading can be awkward
  • Requires crossbars
  • Requires a rack for each bike





Trunk-Mounted Racks

Yakima trunk-mounted bicycle carrier on sedan with bikes loaded Thule trunk-mounted bike rack

Trunk-mounted bike racks are usually the most economical type of rack, especially if your car doesn't already have a hitch or crossbars. These racks attach to your vehicle's trunk or hatch by means of hooks, straps, and buckles. These racks usually have pads at the mounting points to avoid damage to your vehicle's finish. But it's a good idea to make sure the contact points of your car are clean and free of dirt before mounting the rack to help eliminate possible scuffing or scratching of the paint. Also, you can't open your trunk or hatch while a trunk-mounted rack is installed, so your access to the back of your car is restricted. And if your vehicle has a spoiler, be sure to choose a rack that is designed to clear this type of accessory.


Pros:

  • Requires no hitch or crossbars
  • Least expensive option
  • Can be swappped among different vehicles
    (check fit information)

Cons:

  • Limits trunk access
  • More difficult to install
  • Potential damage to vehicle finish





Additional Articles


How to Choose a Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack


How to Choose a Roof-Mounted Bike Rack


How to Chosse a Trunk-Mounted Bike Rack


Written by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 1/12/18





John B.

3/1/2022

I have a 2022 Honda Civic hatchback and need a bike rack solution for both road and mountain bikes. I see your roof rack options, but am worried that the height of the open hatch may require a roof bike rack too be placed too far forward? Do you see any problem with this for 29er mountain bikes? 2 other questions bout the 2022 Civic hatchback: 1) Is there a trunk mounted rack option, such as Saris or Thule? 2) is there a Draw-Tite or other option for hitch mounted racks? Thank you, John B

Les D.

3/2/2022

If you have a 2022 Honda Civic, hatchback or sedan, but without center exhaust, it seems the easiest solution would be using the Draw-Tite Class-1 hitch receiver which has a 1-1/4 inch receiver opening. It also has a 200 pound tongue capacity for hauling things like bikes. You need to consult your Honda owners manual to determine the vehicles capacity first. I have included a link to our current Class-1 bike hitches. I would pick the lightest one to preserve that capacity for the bikes.

Victor M.

11/17/2021

I have a 2018 Corolla Im hatchback. It's the same hitch assembly! I need also ebike fat tire bike rack?

Les D.

11/24/2021

@VictorM The article you commented on lightly reviews the different styles of bike racks. The first thing you need to know is that page 167 of your owners manual says to not tow with your Carolla, nor to use an accessory hitch to carry a bike or carrier. Nevertheless, I have seen users mount the Curt # C11265 Class-1 accessory hitch. On a more capable car this would allow you accessories up to 200 pounds. The lightest carrier we offer is the Thule # TH9042PRO at 19 pounds. The carrier is rated for 37-1/2 pounds for 2 bikes. BOTTOM LINE: We don't recommend it. Another alternative would be a Rhino-Rack # DK383 roof rack (also needs part # DS118B ) and to that attach Rocky Mounts # RKY1222 bike racks. You would need to check your roof's weight limit.


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