By on March 15, 2019

2019 Buick Enclave Roof Rack, Image: Buick Steve writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I am a family man and typically have a family hauler in the stable — minivan, three-row crossover, and what-have-you. I always get the manufacturer’s trailer hitch and roof rack/crossbars.

So, I like the size of the new Traverse/Enclave, but have you seen the ridiculous crossbars? See photo above.

They must be 8 inches or more off the top of the car. I usually like the look of the roof rack on larger vehicles, but hate the new setup. I know, I could get aftermarket accessories, and probably would. I Googled around for a reason why they are so high off the top of the car but found nothing. My working theory is that by holding a cargo carrier, or other items on the roof high enough, the airflow from the windshield can pass underneath the cargo unobstructed, resulting in a smoother, more perfect, more aerodynamic vehicle-cargo union rather than running into an air-dam of cargo, effectively forcing airflow around the obstruction.

In any event, thought it was an interesting unanswered question and if we will start seeing this as the norm on new vehicles. Maybe it’s just me, but it looks pretty goofy to my eye. It also looks more dramatic in person, if you have seen them riding around.

Sajeev answers:

How did you find that photo? After searching GM’s official websites for the Enclave and Traverse, only the low profile, aerodynamic and subtle roof racks are present.

And that’s how it should be — tiny useless things accessories that make us feel more special than a Impala or LaCrosse owner. We love them CUVs, so we lust for the requisite faux utility to complete the look: in this era of fuel economy wants against the people’s CUV needs, it’s better to keep ’em subtle and as wind cheating as possible.

Oh wait… I found one photo of those bigger, functional bars on Buick’s website. My bad: apparently part #84196853 is what you’ve seen. And you are likely right about the height of the bigger rack vs. roof slope vs. frontal area (cargo box) being ugly by design to reduce aerodynamic drag.

And if you always get the OEM crossbars, there’s nothing wrong with these: enjoy them on your family road trip, then toss ’em in the garage when they aren’t needed. Looks pretty easy to do just that, provided you have a ladder.

[Image: General Motors]

Send your queries to [email protected] Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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27 Comments on “Piston Slap: Feelin’ Cross About Tall Cross Bars!...”

  • avatar

    What’s the big deal just remove the crossbars when not in use you’ll enjoy better gas mileage and less wind noise if you do

    • 0 avatar

      I like to leave the crossbars on. I like the asthetic on a long roof vehicle. Have seen those tall crossbars in the wild and they just look stupid, but I guess if there is a low profile OEM option, I suppose it’s no issue at all.

      • 0 avatar

        I understand what you’re saying, but on my car the roof rails are the only thing visible the crossbars usually can’t be seen when eyeing them from a standing position, but I do like the look of roof rails on a crossover/SUV they look cheap without them

    • 0 avatar

      The cross bars are only a 7% detriment to mpg. But bars with bikes is 32%, while a kayak is 28%.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        The vehicle’s MPG is calculated with the cross bars already on. Using that logic, someone could state that rolling down the window and sticking your hand out with your fingers stuck together “airplane” causes a 46.2% detriment to MPG. Two bicycles would have far less surface area than any kayak. The lack of surface area of the two bicycles would make them act far less like a sail than a kayak. We’d like to see the source of that data, please. Perhaps AutoTrader funded wind tunnel testing and proved that Buicks are the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles ever designed by man.

        • 0 avatar

          “The vehicle’s MPG is calculated with the cross bars already on.”

          Probably only if they’re standard equipment on all trim levels. Are they standard on anything?

          I could imagine a kayak presenting less aerodynamic drag than two bicycles. There might be less surface area with the bicycles, but the kayak’s drag coefficient is probably a small fraction of that of a bicycle.

          Those numbers don’t sound unreasonable to me under certain circumstances, particularly a small car running at highway speeds.

  • avatar

    Not so nice taking shots at Buick car owners, your much smarter brother would never do such a thing, or is it your much smarter cousin????

  • avatar

    I started the process to hang all this gingerbread from the Compass, but after sourcing the cute little aero racks, the steps, the cowcatcher and the hitch receiver step/rear guard— it dawned on me the car would look like a Nissan Xterra after it all.

    Decided against it.

    #wokeuplikethis #nofilter #cantbuildtheconceptfromtheproductioncar

  • avatar

    Guy down the street just bought a CX-5 – in that nice, almost candy-apple red paint that Mazda uses.
    I noticed he has those tall roof rack cross bars on it – don’t like them one bit.

    • 0 avatar

      Soul Red is the nicest looking red on any car

      • 0 avatar

        Delmonico Red for current cars and Arena Red on the older Porsche 911 are good reds. Delmonico is probably my favorite right now for a red.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that soul red is a really nice color, but have you seen the “ceramic” color on the Kia Stinger. My new favorite color as I typically buy in the silver/grey color family.

        • 0 avatar

          Audi does something similar on the RS5 Sportback. Saw this baby not too long ago. And those quilted leather seats with red stitching…tasty.

      • 0 avatar

        This is not longer SR. It is SR Crystal. There is big difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever happened to bordello red with matching interior? You can’t tell a pimp car anymore – they’re all driving black 300’s with black plastic interiors.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It’s also because automakers have moved from roof rails that were raised off of the roof—so that the cross cars almost hid inside of the horizontal section of the rails—to rails that are sleeker and sit directly on top of the roof. That necessitates that the crossbars themselves be raised.

    Take a look at the 2007-2013 (E70) X5, versus the later 2014-2018 (F15) X5 and newer 2019- (G05) X5. The E70 had traditional roof rails; the F15 and G05 have the newer, sleeker variety.

    The fact of the matter is that the sleeker rails probably look more aesthetically pleasing to most people, who will never use them.

    One particular offender, in my mind, is any current Highlander with crossbars. Maybe it’s becsuse I see a lot of them. I wouldn’t have them on any longer than is necessary, because I hate the way they look.

  • avatar

    “…so we lust for the requisite faux utility to complete the look…”

    How is a roof rack faux utility? Unless it’s made of cardboard, it’s a fully functioning and capable piece of equipment.

    • 0 avatar

      Have a look at the factory rack, the one in the first picture is a GM accessory. Without it:

    • 0 avatar

      Depends. My dad use those rack on a Mazda5 to haul construction materials and furniture. It is 80% of the capacity of a pickup truck for only $120 used off ebay.

      Wind noise is bad, until he wrap it around with a bunch of old fabrics (looks ugly) to soften the air flow.

  • avatar

    I have an ’18 Traverse and was also horrified by the factory crossbars! I ended up buying Thule bars for it that are much lower profile. I don’t have a sunroof, but one reason for the high crossbars might be to leave clearance for the sunroof when it’s open.

  • avatar

    My parents own an Outback Touring (with the low profile aluminum rail/Thule crossbars instead of the black plastic/ integrated crossbar combo on lower trims). Looks great, but they create so much wind noise that they had the dealer remove them before taking delivery. Haven’t be re-installed since.

  • avatar

    Our 1st gen Durango doesn’t have rails, the crossbars run in slots in the roof.

  • avatar

    Tall crossbars are due to dense people who install aftermarket bike racks attached with overly long bolts that will scratch the sunroof when it opens. Its a lowest common denominator fix.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Why do you require OEM roof racks?

    The aftermarket car accessories suppliers will have a product that would be most likely cheaper and better suited to your needs.

    To me this is a non issue. How hard can life be or how hard are you making it?

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