Thule Vector Review
Cons: Expensive, floor liner might not be for everyone
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$1,500 at REI
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|Pros||Interior lights, stylish, dual-side opening||Sleek, large capacity, dual-opening, flat bottom||Easiest to install, ergonomic handle, sleek design||Great handle, cool appearance, less expensive||Relatively inexpensive, easy to attach, convenient to use|
|Cons||Expensive, floor liner might not be for everyone||No integrated light, dedicated tool required for install||Pricey||Frustrating installation||Won’t fit longer skis, longer crossbar spans can be problematic for install|
|Bottom Line||This is the cargo carrier for you if you want all the bells and whistles and don’t mind paying for it||If you are looking for a premium cargo box that's easy to use with plenty of room, this is our strong recommendation||An excellent, high-end cargo box that excels in every category||An exceptional value because of its top-notch user friendly design||If you are searching for bargain cargo box and don’t need to transport longer skis and boards, then this is a great option|
|Rating Categories||Thule Vector||Yakima GrandTour 16||Thule Motion XT XL||Yakima Skybox 16 Ca...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier|
|Ease Of Use (40%)|
|Specs||Thule Vector||Yakima GrandTour 16||Thule Motion XT XL||Yakima Skybox 16 Ca...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier|
|Weight (lbs)||59.3 lb||51.50 lb||42 lb||47 lb||25 lb|
|Volume (Cubic Feet)||13 cu ft||16 cu ft||18 cu ft||16 cu ft||14 cu ft|
|Size (Inches - L x W x H)||83.5" x 34.5" x 14"||79" x 35" x 18"||84.5" x 36" x 17"||81" x 36" x 15"||63" x 31" x 15"|
|Additional Sizes||Alpine, M||18 cu ft||L (16 cu ft) and XXL (22 cu ft)||Lo, 12 cu ft, 18 cu ft, and 21 cu ft||n/a|
|Maximum Ski Length||185 cm||180 cm||200 cm||185cm||140 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This box does have a slightly smaller capacity than some of the other models, limited to 13 cubic feet and a maximum length of 185 cm. This means that it might not be the best option if you have tons of gear to move or need to transport the longest skis.
Ease of Use
We started our comprehensive testing and review process by rating and ranking how convenient and easy to use each of these car-top cargo carriers are. The bulk of the score for each product is based on the difficulty of the installation process, with the remainder based on our thoughts on the ease of loading gear and any other convenience features. The Thule Vector did exceptionally well in this regard, delivering a top-notch performance that netted it one of the best scores of the group.
We love how quick and easy it is to install or remove the Vector on the vast majority of cars. The Thule Quick-clamps make the tool-free installation a breeze and are compatible with a variety of different crossbar types. The knobs have a built-in torque sensor, causing them to click when they have been tightened sufficiently.
There is also a sliding seal to minimize any water intrusion where the clamps are, all while allowing you plenty of adjustability to accommodate different crossbar distances. The lid on this cargo box is dual-opening, with a handy slide latch and ergonomic integrated handle. This cargo carrier has all the bells and whistles, such as a soft lining, not one, but two motion-activated interior lights, and a dust cover for the exterior when not in use.
The lid opens and closes smoothly, making it easy to load or unload your gear. All in all, we can’t recommend the Vector enough if you want a highly convenient cargo carrier.
Following ease of use, our next most significant testing metric for these rooftop products is durability. Points were awarded to each cargo box based on how sturdy we found the hinges and lid to be during the course of our testing, if we thought water or moisture was easily going to penetrate the box and soak the contents, and how the exterior of each box held up to expected wear and tear. The Vector again did very well, earning a score towards the very top of the entire group.
The Vector has one of the lowest overall profiles of any of the cargo boxes we have tested, dipping down quite a bit in front of the forward crossbar. While the main benefits of this are increased aerodynamics and a sleeker overall appearance, this exaggerated curve also helps in our lid floppiness test. It makes it much stiffer and removes plenty of flop when going to open or close the lid.
As mentioned above, the installation clamps have a sliding seal to keep water out and we never had any issues with water getting inside, even when driving through a driving rainstorm. However, we still would be cautious about putting sensitive gear like electronics or cameras in the Vector without an additional waterproof case, just to be on the safe side. We also like that the matte grey exterior of the lid does a good job at hiding not only scrapes and scuffs, but also dirt or other debris. The exterior of this cargo carrier came out essentially unscathed after our testing process but we did notice some rubbing on the inside lip of the lid, causing some discoloration on the base over time.
While we don’t feel any rooftop cargo carrier is truly secure enough to keep out a particularly motivated thief, some of these boxes did give us a bit more confidence when it came to security than many of the others that we have tested. The Vector did very well, earning one of the better scores of the group.
The Vector has the standard Thule locking cores and an ergonomic slide latch that pops the lid open slightly when you push it. We like that it is clear and easy to see if the cargo box is locked or unlocked and that you can’t remove the key when the box is unlocked, minimizing the chance that you might accidentally drive away with it open.
Our final metric for cargo boxes focused on their looks and aesthetics. While we are the first to admit that these criteria are subjective, we think our method of aggregating scores from different judges works to find what most people would consider stylish. The Thule Vector finished out with a very strong score, earning a top-tier mark.
Our judges overall appreciated the futuristic space-age appearance of the Vector. We like the matte finish on the lid and found the overall cargo box to be very sleek and stylish. This cargo carrier is also available in two colors, one all-black, and a gray and black version.
Unfortunately, we would be hard-pressed to say this product is a good value. This product has a premium price tag and is not the option we would recommend to anyone shopping on a budget.
Admittedly, we are huge fans of the Thule Vector. It has just about every bell and whistle we can think of when it comes to these products, looks great, and is exceptionally easy to use and install. However, we do acknowledge that the price tag is most likely going to be well outside the budget of most people, especially when equally functional models are available for far less money.
— David Wise
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