All great advice, thanks! Some thoughts in response...
since you are already going the minivan route consider a Town and Country- the stow and go seats make for a great option to have an 8 foot bed and the roof has rails/racks that will work for you. You can add longer bars. Car Max usually has a wide selection of 1-2 year old models at a greatly reduced price from new.
- This is a great point. Gas mileage matters a bit to us, and my spouse is wary of used cars... but I am planning to look this route.
I also put booster pods on along with boats when needing the space - for some reason you always need more space with kiddos (more so when not boating).
Are booster pods another name for rooftop boxes? I googled "booster pod" and came up with launchers for model rockets...
Sir Adam wrote:
Another option is to see what folks have done with the factory crossbars, and what their weight limit is. If it is high enough just U-bolt your 72" rails right to them and off you go.
A-ha! I was looking for some Yakima system that would attach their cross bars to factory crossbars. Didn't think about just getting hardware to do it myself after checking weight limits.
Such a helpful forum. Thank you!