Think you can't put a rack on your car? Think again. There is good news out there in the car rack world: factory racks are improving...with a caveat.
Some are still REALLY bad though, like the ones that have virtually no useful load. We call them vanity racks -- easy on the eyes, but pretty much one-dimensional. They're especially offensive on cars that were designed to be used by actual outdoor lovers like us. One SUV had a vanity rack that not only had a 75-pound useful load but the rack precluded installing a real rack with a load capacity.
Both Yakima and Thule has developed a system where different cars and trucks may have a second chance at racking. The prime example is a truck cap. You want a rack, of course, and since there's no place to put a tower, you can add artificial rain gutters (brackets), hard mounting points, or custom tracks, which mimic factory tracks, only they're stronger.
Tracks are the preferred method among our staff. This is because the bars can move back and forth in crossbar spread, allowing a short spread for boxes and bikes, and a long spread for canoes and kayaks. Some smarty-pants-type staff members have installed three bars so they can carry canoes with the long spread and bikes with the short spread. Weirdos, but they're our kind of weirdos.
Tracks are also very useful for putting a rack on a truck topper (or cap or whatever). Since it's easy to get to the inside of the topper, all you need to do is align the tracks so they're parallel to the car's length and to each other. A few holes, screws and a bit of silicone and you've got the base for a versatile system.
Brackets like the Yakima Top Loader, Side Loader or Wide Body are simpler, but are more aesthetically challenging. They basically mimic a rain gutter so you can install a set of Yakima 1A or Thule Gutter Foot. They are a lot less expensive but less flexible. If you only carry one thing (a canoe or a bike) and don't care about crossbar spread, this is the way to go.
The Landing Pad 7 is a little "cleaner" than brackets and allows a blind-side attachment.
The toughest problems lie in the non-standard constructions (VW Campers for example). Another sore spot is that in order to lower the center of gravity on cars to make them safer, car roofs are often made of very thin sheet metal, which is fine if you don't need a rack. The Ford Windstar is a good example of a thinner roof limiting the useful load of the rack. BUT for every problem there is a solution.
When it comes to installation, tricky stuff like campers and non-standard roof constructions require some judgment. We take non-standard stuff to a local body shop and have them pull a headliner so they don't drill through a supply line for the rear air conditioner (ugly). Many cars have maps that make installing a track system simple enough for the casual drill and wrench owner.
Good luck, we'll do all we can to coach you through the process.