Subaru Outback Wagons -- maybe the 2012?
I have used a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Wagon, and am now using the 2009 version of that car, for hauling canoes.
Mostly I have hauled 15 and 16' canoes, both Royalex and w/c, but have hauled 17' and 18' boats from time to time. I have often carried both a canoe and a clam-shell type Yakima carrier at the same time. I use Yakima bars afixed to the side rails of the factory-installed roof rack.View attachment 16566
The rack height is much lower than on almost any SUV or mini-van -- one of the reasons I have the Subaru wagon. The Subaru Forrester seems like a nice car in many ways, but it has a higher roof and would be harder to load.
The newer Subaru's have adequate (not great) power for the job (the 1999 was just barely adequate), and I would think that the 6 cylinder engine would have more than adequate power. They can be fitted with most of the bells and whistles anyone would want (heated seats, luxury stereo, moon roof, GPS, leather seats, etc., etc.).
But the factory roof rack on the 2011 Outback is, as has been noted, an abomination. I have not used it, but I have examined it closely, and have even seen Yakima bars mounted on one. The basic problem is that it will not allow aftermarket bars to be mounted far enough apart for any serious load -- it looks like the maximum spread between bars could be only about 2' -- I wouldn't carry even my 15' OT 50 pounder that way for more than a couple of blocks, and certainly would not carry an 18' boat or a heavy boat with such a minimum spread. I find it hard to see how it could effectively haul anything (lumber, plywood, bicycles, furniture from Ikea, etc.) that I and most people use roof racks for. I cannot believe that they have not heard many complaints about the current rack which was designed, I believe, with only style and lowering wind resistance in mind. It seems strange that the designers of such things never seem to actually try them out or use them to carry a real load.
So while the car is fine, the rack is not.
The 2012 Subarus will be out in a month or so, and it will be interesting to see if they have something better -- if they do, then I would recommend the Subaru Outback (unless they keep making it bigger and higher, another trend to watch out for).
16' canoe and Yakima box
18' Morris on 1999 Outback
16' red & 15' yellow canoes on 2009 Outback
16' Neal on 2009 Outback