As a brand, Thule has enjoyed wide recognition in the roof-rack/cargo box market. In fact, the brand is so well known for its quality roof accessories that many people mistakenly call roof-racks “Thule’s”. Yet, despite their overall popularity, many people have found themselves asking, are Thule cargo boxes worth it?
Thule cargo boxes come in a variety of sizes, are good on gas mileage, and keep your items safe and dry. These features, plus their limited-lifetime warranty make Thule cargo boxes worth every penny.
Still not sure a Thule cargo box is right for you? Keep reading to get all of your questions answered.
What Are Cargo Boxes?
Before we can get into the nitty-gritty about Thule’s boxes, we must first understand what a cargo box is. You’ve probably seen a cargo box on the roof of a car, maybe on the highway? Basically, it’s a box that goes on the roof of your car. However, before you try to throw any old roof-box up there, you will have to have roof-racks first, which, conveniently enough, Thule sells!
But as simple as a cargo box sounds, the advantages are anything but.
Advantages of a Thule Cargo Box
There are many advantages to having a cargo box on the roof of your vehicle, and we’re going to take a look at the top five below.
#1. Extra Space
How many times have you tried to fit your family in around sports gear? How many times have you found a great deal on something but agonized over how you would get the item home? A cargo box could supply the space you need to ensure none of these things ever happen to you, or happen again.
One of the biggest advantages, aside from space, is that a cargo box offers convenience. You can leave it right on top of your car so it will be there whenever you need it, or you can remove it if you need to put something else on the roof (like a Thule bike rack!).
Since cargo boxes can be a bit pricy, people often wonder if they’re worth the investment. Thule’s cargo boxes have the added advantage of standing up to time and weather, so not only will you have it for a long time, but you could always resell it if you needed to.
Do you find yourself daydreaming about the open road? Do you watch travel bloggers and feel jealous, wishing that you could also enjoy all the beautiful things mother nature has to offer? Well, you could with a cargo box! I mean, it won’t pay your bills while you’re gone, but it will haul everything you might need on the road.
Perhaps the biggest advantage for me was being able to go and do all of the outdoor things we wanted to do without having to worry about where we would load everything in the car. Bikes, coolers, kayaks… Thule has a roof accessory for everything.
One last bonus, that is near and dear to my heart, is the fact that a cargo box can help you keep your car clean. Do you really want to put that sandy cooler in your backseat and be cleaning sand out of your car for months? Do you want muddy tire prints in your vehicle from your child’s bike?
Disadvantages of a Thule Cargo Box
#1. Gas Mileage
Even though most companies have taken great strides to make their cargo boxes more aerodynamic, it will still affect gas mileage. In fact, some roof boxes can reduce gas mileage by up to 25%. Furthermore, the more weight you’re carrying, the more gas you will use. This can add up on long trips, so it’s always a good idea to research how much a certain box will affect the gas mileage for the vehicle you own.
Let’s face it, as awesome as having the extra space is, you don’t need it all the time. Granted, some people might use it more than others, but for those of you who will only one it once or twice a year, you may want to consider if the pros outweigh the cons.
Cargo boxes can be found in a range of price brackets, from $55 to over $1000. Depending on how often you will use it, it may not be worth spending that sort of money. However, Thule boxes are more expensive because they are of better quality, and you can rest assured that you will only have to buy one.
Have you ever been sitting in the McDonalds drive-thru, noticed the clearance sign, and wondered who that was for? Well, now you know! While most overpasses, bridges, and signs offer plenty of clearance room, you might still find an area or two that you cannot fit into because of your roof box.
It can be quite a chore to install, attach, and remove a roof box. Thule has tried to make this process easier by streamlining its installation process and making it so fewer pieces are needed. However, they do suggest that you have someone help you with the process. If you plan to remove the box when you’re not using it, you’ll want to account for difficulty when shopping for a cargo box.
Now that we know what a cargo box is, and its pros/cons, we can get into the nitty-gritty…
How Much Can Thule Cargo Boxes Hold?
Thule offers a variety of boxes in different shapes and styles, which allow you to haul a variety of things. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. Exactly how much a box will hold will depend on the size of your vehicle and the size of the cargo box attached to it. Larger cars can be fitted with larger boxes.
Thule cargo boxes range anywhere from 10 to 12 cubic feet (accommodates two people) to 20—plus cubic feet (accommodates five people). Additionally, they offer boxes in different shapes, allowing you to utilize space differently. A long skinny box would be great for fishing poles and skis, while a taller box is more equipped to hold bulky items like luggage and sports gear.
The different sizes you can buy include:
- Small: 8 to 12 cubic feet (the volume of a small refrigerator)
- Medium: 13 to 15 cubic feet (about the volume of a refrigerator)
- Large: 16 cubic feet (about three time the volume of a standard bathtub)
- X-Large: 18 cubic feet
- XX-Large: 22 cubic feet (about the size of an average hot tub)
Are Thule’s Roof Boxes Waterproof?
Quick lesson—waterproof means that if something was submerged, it would not allow any water in, while weatherproof simply means the items are water-resistant but not guaranteed waterproof.
Thule’s cargo boxes are listed as weatherproof/weather-resistant. However, although Thule recommends that travelers take precautions with their luggage (such as wrapping it in plastic), customers have said that the boxes do a great job at keeping gear dry so long as they are installed and latched properly.
Can I Use a Thule Cargo Box with Any Roof Rack System?
Technically, Thule boxes are designed to fit other rack systems, but because of the wide variety of factors, it would be impossible to say that they are universal. Thule’s rack systems are specifically tested and designed to carry the weight of their cargo boxes in any type of condition. So, although you could strap the cargo box to your roof on any rack system, it is not recommended. However, the company does try its best to match its cargo boxes with some factory-installed roof racks. You can check to see whether your vehicle is compatible on their website here.
Do Thule Cargo Boxes Have a Warranty?
Yes, Thule boxes come with a limited lifetime warranty. The difference between a lifetime warranty and a limited lifetime warranty is that the limited only covers specific parts, certain defects, or other conditions. A lifetime warranty does not have limitations.
Thule’s warranty ensures that if the box is defective, or becomes damaged in a way that was not due to normal wear, they will replace it. In some cases, they may refund your money or offer a credit that you can use to buy a different product.
Why Are Thule Cargo Boxes So Expensive?
A quick Google search will show that you can find Cargo boxes in price ranges much cheaper than Thule’s, so why are they so expensive? Let’s take a quick look at some of the features that customers have mentioned in their rave reviews.
- Great customer service
- Better than average warranty
- Secure locks (on some models)
- Multi side entrances (some models)
- Lighting (some models)
- Easy installation
- Better gas mileage
The major difference between Thule’s cargo boxes and those from some less expensive brands is quality. I guess the old saying is true—you get what you pay for.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.