This top-of-the-line model from Thule scores incredibly well across the board. This box is noticeably sleek and stylish, all while being extremely easy to use. It's a breeze to install if you plan on taking it on and off your car frequently. Unfortunately, it is one of the most expensive models that we have seen to date, and there are much better options out there if you are shopping on a tight budget or place a lower emphasis on aesthetics. However, if you want a box that scores at the top of the pack in both performance and looks, the Top Pick-winning Thule Hyper XL is a great choice — provided you can stomach the price.
Thule Hyper XL Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Sleek, stylish, easy to use
Cons: Pricey, only available in a single color
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This box finished right at the top of the group, scoring approximately the same as its predecessor, the Thule Motion XL. These models both use similar quick clip installation systems, making them by far the easiest models to install, and both can be opened from either side and are quite sturdy, making them extremely convenient to use. The Hyper is the clear winner when it comes to style, looking substantially sleeker. However, the Motion XL has slightly more storage capacity (about an additional cubic foot), is available in more sizes and colors, and costs about $200-$300 less — making it a far better option if you are willing to sacrifice some style to save some cash.
To rank and score these products and see which cargo box is really worthy of being crowned the winner, we conducted extensive research of practically every product on the market today. We pored over manufacturers' claims, user experiences, and expert reviews, eventually selecting the most promising products to purchase and test head-to-head. We divided our testing process up into four weighted testing metrics — Ease of Use, Durability, Security, and Aesthetics — each weighted according to their significance, with the Hyper XL's results discussed below.
Ease of Use
By far the most important set of tests of our entire evaluation, this metric is responsible for a whopping 40% of the total score for each box. We compared how much time and effort it took to complete the initial assembly of each box and its installation, as well as how convenient and easy to open each one is. The Thule Hyper XL demonstrated exceptional ease of use in each of these tests.
The Hyper XL arrived ready to mount right from the package, with the AcuTight mounting brackets already installed. The only minor assembly that is necessary is threading the pair of straps through the inner part of these brackets, giving you a quick and easy way to secure your gear from bouncing around if you don't have the box completely full. However, this can also be done after the Hyper XL is mounted, so no need to fret if you want to dive right into mounting it to your car!
Moving on to actually mounting it, the Hyper XL again continued to impress, totally dominating this test as one of the easiest boxes to install that we have seen.
The mounting brackets slide back and forth, allowing you to easily match them to most common crossbar arrangements and, according to customer service, should fit bars up to 2" in diameter, as well as the most commonly found square or elliptical bars from major manufacturers. Turning the knob on the top of each bracket will tighten the clamps around the bar, locking them in place when you hear the click.
The installation took us much less than 5 minutes — in fact, we probably spent longer unwrapping the Hyper and finding the pair of keys taped inside of the rim of the lid than it took to install it on a car, once it was in place. The only major hassle we found with this box is it is quite large, meaning a second set of hands to help you lift it into position is invaluable, especially if you are on the shorter side or have a taller car. Then again, most cargo box installations go best with two people working on it. There is a pull handle as well that makes it much easier to close if you do mount the box on a taller car.
Our taller testers could get away loading it single-handedly on a shorter car or truck bed racks, but the experience was always a bit harrowing and the box always ended up getting dragged across the bars or some other part of the car, causing us to fear that damage to the finish of either was imminent.
Accounting for 25% of the overall score, the set of tests in our Durability metric are the next most important to the overall score. We ranked and scored how sturdy the hinges on each box felt, how floppy the lid is, how sturdy the mounting brackets felt, and how well the box held up to our testing process. The Hyper XL did very well in this metric, earning one of the top scores of the entire group.
The lid on the Hyper XL is exceptionally sturdy, and it doesn't flop around when open. The hinges don't wobble when opening and seem to be reinforced enough to stand up to years of use.
The mounting brackets inspire similar confidence, though they will bend if you happen to collide hard enough into a fixed object, like forgetting the box is on the car and going under a low overhang or garage. However, it isn't terribly expensive to replace, and it is much better to replace a bracket than having the nose of the actual box crack.
The high gloss finish on this box does tend to show scrapes and scuffs a bit more than some of the boxes, though the clear coating will protect against most minor bumps from regular use.
Responsible for 20% of the total score, we moved on to judging the quality of the locking mechanism on each cargo box. The Hyper XL is quite secure.
The Hyper XL has the identical locking mechanism to the Thule Force. The lock comes installed from the factory, preventing any mishaps from installing it wrong. The lock securely latches and prevents you from removing the key if the lock isn't fully engaged. Our only gripe with this lock is there isn't a visual indicator that shows if the box is unlocked or locked, like the Yakima SkyBox or the Thule Motion XT.
For our final metric, we evaluated and scored the aesthetics of each box, for the remaining 15% of the total score for each box. The Hyper XL again did exceptionally well here, earning a top score for its superior style.
This box has undeniably sleeker and more stylish lines than the vast majority of rooftop cargo boxes out there, having a slightly lower profile than the Motion without sacrificing much storage.
The Hyper's finish is glossy and is only available in black with grey accents. Our only issue is the glossy coating does highlight any dings or scratches on the box a bit more than a matte finish, but this shouldn't be too much of an issue if proper care is taken when mounting and unmounting the box.
While the Hyper XL is an excellent cargo box, it isn't the best bet when shopping on a budget, as you are definitely paying a premium for style. High style doesn't equate to high value here.
All in all, this top-of-the-line cargo box is worth considering — if you don't immediately balk at its hefty price tag. This box is super easy to use, secure and sturdily built, and looks great. It has more than enough room for all sorts of gear and can be installed or taken off most cars in less than 5 minutes. Unfortunately, it only is available in one color and size, so if the glossy black and grey color scheme isn't for you, then you have to consider another model. However, the Hyper XL won't disappoint if you are on board with its look and can finance the premium price.
— David Wise