Thule Vector Review
Cons: Extremely expensive, floor liner might not be for everyone
Compare to Similar Products
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
|$579 List||$660 List|
$509.99 at Amazon
|Check Price at Amazon|
|Pros||Interior lights, felt-lined interior, stylish, dual-side opening||Sleek, large capacity, dual-opening, flat bottom||Great value, easy to install, dual-opening||Relatively inexpensive, easy to attach, convenient to use||Well-priced, decent looking, fits long skis and snowboards|
|Cons||Extremely expensive, floor liner might not be for everyone||No integrated light, dedicated tool required for install||Limited to <170cm skis/boards, not the sleekest look||Won’t fit longer skis, longer crossbar spans can be problematic for install||Not the easiest to install, less convenient|
|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||If you are searching for a cargo box without busting your budget, then we highly recommend this option||If you are searching for a well-priced cargo box and don’t need to transport longer skis and boards, then this is a great option||If you want to transport skis and snowboards on top of your car without spending a ton, this is a great option|
|Rating Categories||Thule Vector||Yakima GrandTour 16||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Horizon A...|
|Ease of Use (40%)|
|Specs||Thule Vector||Yakima GrandTour 16||Yakima RocketBox Pr...||Goplus Rooftop Carrier||SportRack Horizon A...|
|Weight||59.3 lbs||51.5 lbs||40 lbs||25 lbs||25 lbs|
|Volume||13 cu ft||16 cu ft||14 cu ft||14 cu ft||11 cu ft|
|Dimensions||83.5" x 34.5" x 14"||79" x 35" x 18"||74" x 33" x 16"||63" x 31" x 15"||88.75" x 21" x 15.75"|
|Additional Available Sizes||Alpine, M||18 cu ft||Pro 11 (11 cu ft), Pro 12 (12 cu ft)||n/a||L (16 cu ft), XL (17 cu ft)|
|Maximum Ski Length||185 cm||180 cm||170 cm||140 cm||210 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The GrandTour is a slightly smaller capacity than some of the other models we tested at 13 cubic feet and holding gear with 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 each car-top cargo carrier is to use. The bulk of the score for each product is based on the difficulty of the installation process, with the remainder based on ease of loading gear and 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 most 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 tightened sufficiently, something we really appreciate. Many boxes don't indicate when their clamps are correctly tightened, making it easy to either over-tighten them and damage something or under-tighten them and cause a security risk.
There is also a sliding seal to minimize any water intrusion where the clamps are, all while allowing 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 interior 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 as well, 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 and feature-rich cargo carrier.
While we don't feel any rooftop cargo carrier is truly secure enough to keep out a particularly motivated thief, some of the boxes we tested gave us a bit more confidence when it came to security than others. The Vector did very well in this regard — it is clearly a well-designed piece of equipment.
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. All components are robust and burly, inspiring confidence that your gear will remain safe from all but the most motivated intruder.
Next, we looked at each contender's craftsmanship and overall build quality. 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, as we would expect from such an expensive product.
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 helped with our lid floppiness test. It makes it much stiffer and removes plenty of flop when going to open or close the lid, increasing the overall pleasantness of the user experience.
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 rainstorm. However, we would still be cautious about putting sensitive gear like electronics or cameras in the Vector without an additional waterproof case, just to be safe. We also like that the matte 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.
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, the matte titan we tested and a black metallic if you prefer a shinier look.
Unfortunately, we would be hard-pressed to say this product is a good value. TheThule Vector has a premium price tag and is not the option we would recommend to anyone shopping on a budget. It's well made, attractive, and has some useful and fun features, but for the steep jump up in price, we're not sure even these extras are worth the large dent in your wallet.
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. If you're looking for a premium model, this is it, but for most of us, we'll happily save a ton of cash for something equally as functional.
— David Wise
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