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Discussion Starter #1
I looked at and drove the 3 5-door today. Seems like a nice car.

I've got a very specific need to be able to carry long cargo like lumber. Not very often, and not huge quantities, but often enough that it's a big consideration in what I buy.

I measure just about exactly 8 feet from the glove compartment to the rear hatch with all the seats down. That's about 6 inches shorter than the Matrix (which is the #1 competition at this point), PT-cruiser, or Element. Has anybody tried putting 8-foot 2x4's into a 5? Do they fit?

If you've got something bigger than 8 feet, is it feasable to drive with it sticking out the back and the hatch open? I know it's not recommended, but I don't mind the occasional trip taking it slow on back roads, as long as it's possible. Is there some way to secure the hatch so it doesn't flop around? Is there any kind of stupid interlock which makes the car refuse to move if the hatch is open?

BTW, these car dealers must thing I'm nuts. I walk into showrooms, fold everything down, pull out my tape, measure the inside and walk out :)
 

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Bungee cords for the hatch.

As for keeping the hatch open while you drive: Of course the car will move! But keep those pieces STRAPPED down with a little red flag on the end sticking out.

I have never carried anything that big in my 3. But clearly, with the seats folded down, it can.
 

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The 3 is even better than my Pro5 for that kind of thing and I did numerous trips from Home Depot with my Pro5 with 8' lengths of lumber in there, truly a magical thing. I even had people stop and watch me stuff 10 or 12 pieces of lumber and numerous lengths of trim (some up to 9 feet bent to go down into the passenger foot well) and remark that they wish their vehicle could do that. For that kind of thing it works very well. You're not going to get any sheets of plywood in there of any considerable size but I have stuffed some substantial things into there and drove with the hatch down without issue. I used some 16 or so gauge electrical wire to hold my hatch down before when carrying a 7' long, 3.5' wide kitchen table home for a buddy, wasn't pretty but it worked for the short 5km trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
cowtown said:
The 3 is even better than my Pro5 for that kind of thing
How so? I looked at both in the showroom, and I'm hard pressed to find any significant difference. I measured the interior length and came out with pretty much exactly the same number (about 8 foot 2 inches) for both.
 

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The rear deck folds flatter in the 3 which is a big help for loading things and I found that because of that I could get the front seat to fold down lower overall. Take into account the numerous other improvements as far as just being able to fold that stuff down, the ability to hold a large box in the back with the seats up and you get a better overall storage area. Does it necessarily help with wood carrying, maybe not but I do know being able to fold down the seats flatter all the way through the car was a big help. To answer the original question though it does very well with 8' lengths of 2x or what not.
 
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