Friday, July 7, 2023

Thule Motion Rooftop Cargo Carrier Reviewed

cargo carrier
We recently set out on a cross-country drive to visit a family member.  Since our destination was over 1000 miles away, we opted to drive only one vehicle to carry 5 adults and our dog, Merlin.

You may wonder why we took our pup with us.  He is approximately 15 years old and has arthritis.  He can no longer get up without assistance.  Leaving him in a kennel is not an option.  So, he made the trip with us.  

Merlin is a Labrador Retriever and requires as much room, or more, in the car as any adult.  We put one seat down with his bed on it so he would be comfortable on the long drive.  He was fabulous on the trip!  However, with 5 adults and a full-size doggie, we had no place for luggage.  Unfortunately, the people wanted to be able to change their clothes a few times on the trip, even though Merlin thinks that is silly.

A month before the trip, my husband spent a lot of time researching cargo carriers that would fit on top of our SUV.  He wanted one that would mount securely and would not fly off the top of the car.  He also wanted one that would minimize the drag on the car.  Plus, he wanted a reputable brand that would lock closed.  Last, but by no means least, he wanted one large enough to carry our luggage and supplies.  

Those are not unreasonable expectations for a cargo carrier on the top of the vehicle, but those combined concerns did limit options.

Before he even started looking at carriers, he looked up the manufacturer's specification for the total weight that our SUV could carry on it's roof.  We did not purchase the largest cargo carrier available.  The combined weight of the roof rail crossbars, the expected weight of the luggage, and the weight of the carrier itself,  had to be considered before the cargo carrier size was selected.

Now that we are home and our packed cargo carrier traveled over 2000 miles on the roof of our SUV, I can highly recommend the Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier - Large.  Not only does it have a streamline attractive appearance, it has a lightweight construction that is extremely durable.  It didn't shake, rattle, bounce, fly open, or fly off of our SUV.  Plus, our luggage was safely locked inside so we didn't have to worry about opportunistic thieves when we stopped along the way or overnight.


Features of the Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier (Large Size)

     Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier, Titan, Large, L (16 cu ft)
    Click Image to Purchase
  • Exterior:  77" x 36" x 17"
  • Interior offers 16 cubic feet packing space (69" x 31.5" x 15")
  • Dual Side Opening - Opens from Either Side of the Vehicle
  • When Open, Lid Has Supporting Side Lid-Lifters
  • Secure Closure Indicator on Lid
  • Offers a Quick Mount System that "Clicks" When Secure on the Recommended Cross Bars
  • Plastic Construction
  • Weight of Carrier: 42 lbs 
  • Carries 165 lbs of Content
  • Additional Sizes Available


Things We Considered Before We Purchased Our Cargo Carrier

First, we checked the Vehicle Manufacturer's Data for the maximum weight limit allowed for our vehicle roof rack when the vehicle is in Motion (not the weight allowed when the vehicle is parked).

We ensured the Combined Weight of the following did not exceed the vehicle manufacturer's maximum roof mounted weight specifications:

  1.  Weight of the Crossbars  
  2.  Weight of the Cargo Carrier  
  3.  Weight of the Carrier's Contents


Considerations When Selecting the Right Cargo Carrier 

I am sure there are more things to consider, but these are the things we found most important to us before we purchased, mounted and loaded our cargo carrier.

     Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo CarrierCheck Price

  1. Roof Rail Crossbars* 
  2. The Cargo Carrier Manufacturer's Maximum Carrier Content Weight Limit (combined weight of luggage or items to carry)
  3. The Cargo Carrier Manufacturer's Specified Maximum Vehicle Speed Allowed with Cargo Carrier Installed
  4. Mounting Considerations (front, back, center of roof) for the carrier.  We had to consider the lift gate on our SUV

 *Thule specifies crossbars that are safe to use with their cargo carriers on their website.  Our selected GMC crossbars were not listed, so we emailed our cargo carrier's manufacturer to ensure the roof rail crossbars we selected were safe to use with our vehicle and our cargo carrier before we bought them.

We mounted our carrier in accordance with our vehicle manufacturer and the cargo carrier manufacturer's instructions.  Both have specific limitations and guidance on how and where to mount the rooftop carrier.

Even after we considered all of these things in advance, we still weighed each item as we were packing the carrier to make sure we were within the specified weight limits of the roof rails, the carrier and the luggage combined.

On our trip, we saw several "interesting" ways that people carried their luggage or supplies on their roof.  Looking at those terrifying and potentially dangerous "techniques", made me grateful that my husband considered safety first before putting anything on the roof of our car.  


The Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier

We did need a lightweight step-stool for loading and unloading our luggage from the roof of our SUV

 Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier, Titan, Large, L (16 cu ft)Check Price ACSTEP Folding Step Stool 2 Step Ladder Heavy Duty Metal Stepping Stools for Adults with Anti-SlipCheck Price



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  1. I’m so glad that you and all the other passengers, including sweet Merlin, survived the long trip in relative comfort and that your Thule rooftop cargo carrier accommodated your belongings well and safely! Is this rooftop cargo carrier suitable for sedans, too, or only SUVs? Thanks for introducing me to this excellent product and welcome back!

    1. I would recommend checking with the auto manufacturer. In our case, GMC has a website with accessories. You put in the year & model of vehicle and it gives the recommended carrier. Of course, you have the option to purchase directly from GMC (your auto manufacturer), but the carrier was less expensive on Amazon and they shipped it free to our home instead of to the car dealership.

  2. Seems this rooftop cargo carrier worked perfectly for your trip. Most excellent review and recommendations.

    We used a small one once on the top of the trunk of a 2-seater MGB for a long road trip where there was not enough room inside for our luggage. We must have attached it wrong the first attempt, as when we took it out on a back road for a test drive, it 'blew off'. LOL. We finally did it correctly and it worked fine. Very helpful product when needed.

    1. You have just highlighted the feature I loved most about the Thule. It has little "claws" that lock onto the crossbars and you hear it click so you know it locked on. Sure am glad you tested your carrier before you took off down the highway. Excellent idea!

  3. So glad you found one to fit your needs. When we traveled to South Carolina a couple of years ago we searched for one for our daughters car. She an SUV with the 3rd seat which we needed because there were 5 of us. It left little room for all of our luggage. Her SUV does not have cross bars on the roof so we had to cram everything in with Tyler sitting in the third seat.

  4. That is a long trip and I am glad you were able to travel in comfort, take your lovely Labrador Merlin and all your luggage. There is a lot to consider when purchasing a rooftop cargo carrier and I am glad you found one to meet all your needs. Thank you for your excellent review and recommendation.

  5. You sure did your homework on the specs for the correct roof top carrier - A lifetime ago, we used one, or had one for one of our vehicles when the kids were little. I was always nervous about having something on the roof when driving on the highway, but it was perfectly fine. These are a great solution when there's just no room in the car.


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