2013 harpmobile shopping reviews

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    A friend took me around northern Virginia car dealerships with my harp cover to try on several cars. I don’t think I’ll buy in the immediate future unless a great offer on a used car comes up. I take Metro or walk almost everywhere, and transporting the harp is the main purpose of a vehicle I’d buy. While I take it out a few times a month during the band’s concert season, plus a few more times during the week of a performance, and would like to for chamber music and dabbling in newbie-friendly jazz sessions we have, I can’t justify new car payments for such a limited purpose, especially with DC street parking hassles or off-street parking fees, plus insurance. Anyway, since I looked at eight models, some of which have changed from previous years, I thought I’d pass along my impressions.

    My harp: a 74 inch concert grand.

    Me: a 6 foot guy with long legs. I usually need the seat close to the farthest position back, though I usually go as far forward as I comfortably and safely can while moving a harp. I like to sit straight up, so I don’t recline the seat at all while driving.

    Mazda 5: The third row folds down easily. For the second row, the seat cushions go forward, making a little wall behind the front row that cuts a few inches out of the back space. Some cushions might keep the crown above it anyway, giving the space back. Even flat, though, there was quite a bit of space. It might be close for a CG the size of mine, but angling it could work. The corners of the hatch, however, are rounded which might make some harp maneuvering to get it in, then the base over and behind the rounded off portion. Because it’s not as large as a full size minivan, it would be much easier to park if you need parallel parking on crowded streets or have tight parking garage rows to navigate. I looked at this initially because it’s recommended by Consumer Reports and is priced quite well.

    Mazda CX5: This missile crossover was a surprise. It had a generous cargo space that would easily fit my concert grand while giving me lots of room to drive. I took a test drive and it handled very well with a really good turning radius. It also has a rear camera when backing up that I liked.

    Honda Pilot: This could fit my concert grand or an even larger one with no troubles at all. I test drove it and it handled well, doing a U-turn easily. But it’s a full size SUV and would be a major hassle to park where I live, or in the garage of the auditorium in which we perform and I don’t want to think of the tiny church lots. It being high off the ground, I also had scary visions of running over pets and children without seeing them.

    Honda CRV: This would be close for me and my harp, Shorter harpists and/or harps should have a better time.

    VW Jetta Sportwagen. The seats fold flat with the cushion doing the wall thing and the headrests were a pain to remove, which is necessary to fold flat. However, with head rests on, they fold close to flat sloping up a bit, with the seat cushions in their original position. The slope this way should be fine to slide a harp in and those extra inches are free again. After putting the seat how I needed it to get my right leg past the steering wheel and move the gas and brake easily, this would be a difficult t fit for my CG, but a shorter harpist should be OK, or a semi grand. The seat cushions look like they also can come out fairly easily, if you don’t mind that or plan to need the rear seats often.

    Subaru Outback: Some people have had problems with concert grand in Outbacks before. This should no longer be an issue, as the Outback has morphed in the newest model. It is now a full size crossover, and the bed had enough room for my harp. However, what I like in the older versions, the lower carlike profile of the station wagon, is gone. It feels more like a crossover. That’s not necessarily bad, but makes it a fairly different vehicle. It’s also looks a bit wider, always a plus for fitting a harp.

    Ford Escape: In a model I rented last year, the seat cushions went forward, not leaving enough room for a CG without removing them, which was easy to do, though an annoyance for a rental since I had to do so, and put them back in, every time I played. I was surprised and most pleased that the 2013 model’s seats fold flat without flipping the cushion forward. This makes it a much better harpmobile and eliminates the seat removal issues. I was a bit snug with the old model due to my legroom needs, but at least the cushion issue is resolved and the bed seems a bit larger than I remember. I’d need to test with the real harp, though if you’re less than 5’11” I’d certainly put it on the short list.

    Ford CMax Hatchback: Too small for a CG, but it might work for a semi grand if the hatch door doesn’t slope too much for the base.. It should work for petite harps like 85p, Venus Seraphim, and Camac Clio. It was a bit narrow over the wheels and would require sliding on a tilt until the knee block clears the bump.


    Hi Kreig. Thanks for this info. I just solved my harpmobile problems with a minivan, but I enjoyed reading your assessments. Can you be a little more specific on which cars you were able to load your harp into flat, if any? I had an ’02 Subaru Outback, and I had to crawl into the back doors and manipulate the harp by turning and lifting to get it in. It would not load flat. I found that to be a big pain. Just wondering if any of these allow a flat, ‘slide-it-in’ sort of load.


    It was all with the cover only since I wanted to see several dealers for a first impression and my neighbor’s car won’t fit a harp and nothing I can get via ZipCar would allow both my harp and a passenger (his interpersonal skills surpass mine plus I hate highway driving). I required a couple extra inches beyond the cover’s length for the base. The Outback was the second largest space of those I looked at (the pilot is huge). The 2013 is a completely different body style from the wagon that’s so recognizable, and I didn’t believe it was an Outback even after seeing the bumper label. It looked more like a TriBeCa. The salesman said this is how they’re all built now. Of course I’d try with my harp before purchasing to make sure, but I can’t imagine a way it would not fit my harp easily.


    Thanks for the info. I understand your reasoning for not wanting a minivan, but I have to say that I agree 100% with Carl Swanson. I just got a 2013 Dodge Caravan, and it is the absolute perfect harpmobile. It has an automatic liftback, low loading deck, tons of room — the harp just shoves right in and there are room for 3 more concert grands according to Carl. For sure I can fit everything I need in there. I love the stow and go seats… need to remove seats to have the cargo area free….and the stowing is so easy. It also has a lot of power, isn’t a gas hog, and it’s really not that hard to maneuver — and this coming from someone who really prefers smaller cars. I think it is the perfect harpmobile — for me.


    I got to try a CRV down the street tonight. No go for the CG, mostly due to the seat bottom making the wall. I don’t remember if the 2013 did that, but it was a big fail on tonight’s harp test.

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