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Thule Motion XT XL Review

An excellent, high-end cargo box that excels in just about every category
Thule Motion XT XL
Thule Motion XT XL
Credit: www.thule.com
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Price:  $980 List | $979.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy to install, ergonomic handle, sleek design
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   Thule
By Lauren DeLaunay ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 10, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Ease of Use - 40% 8.0
  • Security - 30% 7.0
  • Quality - 20% 7.0
  • Appearance - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

While it does top the price charts as one of the more expensive cargo carriers, we wholeheartedly believe that you get what you pay for with the Thule Motion XT XL. We drove this box all over and loved it for everything from its incredible user-friendliness to its sleek design and color options. At first glance, the Motion XT may look like any other roof box, but its ease of use sets it apart as one of our favorites, making for a hassle-free installation process. It feels safe and secure and is one of our overall favorites, so if your wallet can take it, we don't think you'll be disappointed.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Thule Motion XT XL
This Product
Thule Motion XT XL
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $979.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$829 List$579 List$660 List
$559.99 at Amazon
$450 List
$449.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Easy to install, ergonomic handle, sleek designSleek, large capacity, dual-opening, flat bottomGreat value, easy to install, dual-openingRelatively inexpensive, easy to attach, convenient to useWell-priced, decent looking, fits long skis and snowboards
Cons ExpensiveNo integrated light, dedicated tool required for installLimited to <170cm skis/boards, not the sleekest lookWon’t fit longer skis, longer crossbar spans can be problematic for installNot the easiest to install, less convenient
Bottom Line An excellent, high-end cargo box that excels in just about every categoryIf you are looking for a premium cargo box that's easy to use with plenty of room, this is our strong recommendationIf you are searching for a cargo box without busting your budget, then we highly recommend this optionIf you are searching for a well-priced cargo box and don’t need to transport longer skis and boards, then this is a great optionIf you want to transport skis and snowboards on top of your car without spending a ton, this is a great option
Rating Categories Thule Motion XT XL Yakima GrandTour 16 Yakima RocketBox Pr... Goplus Rooftop Carrier SportRack Horizon A...
Ease of Use (40%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Security (30%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Quality (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Appearance (10%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Thule Motion XT XL Yakima GrandTour 16 Yakima RocketBox Pr... Goplus Rooftop Carrier SportRack Horizon A...
Weight 42 lbs 51.5 lbs 40 lbs 25 lbs 25 lbs
Volume 18 cu ft 16 cu ft 14 cu ft 14 cu ft 11 cu ft
Dimensions 84.5" x 36" x 17" 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 L (16 cu ft) and XXL (22 cu ft) 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 200 cm 180 cm 170 cm 140 cm 210 cm
Access Dual-side Dual-Side Dual-side Dual-side Passenger side

Our Analysis and Test Results

All in all, we found the Thule Motion XT XL to be one of the better cargo boxes we have tested to date. We love Thule's mounting system, and the stiff lid, large handle, and bonus pull cord make this box one of the easiest to use in our lineup. We gave it bonus points for style, loving the color choices and shiny finish, and were impressed with the red locking indicator, which gave us confidence that our beloved possessions were always secure.

Performance Comparison


Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - overall, the thule motion xt is a joy to use and attractive to boot.
Overall, the Thule Motion XT is a joy to use and attractive to boot.
Credit: David Wise

Ease of Use


The Motion XT received excellent marks in this metric, and for good reason. It has tons of great features and is exceptionally easy to install. We were surprised that the mounts did not come attached to the box, though we imagine this might be to protect them during shipping. Regardless, it took us less than two minutes to install the clamps, as they easily click right into their slots. We barely had to glance at the instructions to understand their attachment, and compared to some of the other box's assembly requirements, this one had us grinning with its incredible straightforwardness.

Once the clamps were attached to the box, it took us less than five minutes to have it mounted on the car. While most every box in this review requires two people to install, this one hardly did; we couldn't believe how easy it was to simply twist open the clamps, lift the box on top of the car, slide the clamps to fit the cross-bars, and then twist them until they click. Compared to a U-bolt system or the Yakima cam system, Thule's PowerClick mounting system is by far our favorite. If you plan on regularly removing and re-mounting your box, whether to accommodate your small parking garage or to uphold your in-town style requirements, you will be undoubtedly thankful you chose a Thule if for no other reason than this one.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - the powerclick mounts of the motion xt are very easy to install.
The PowerClick mounts of the Motion XT are very easy to install.
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

We also love the handle on this box, making it possible to open and close with one hand. Compared to some others, the big handle of the Motion XT makes getting inside a breeze. The pull cord inside is a nice bonus for height-challenged users or drivers of larger vehicles, though our 5'4" tester didn't find it necessary on even her mid-sized van. The Motion opens from both sides, which is exceptionally more convenient and useful than the single-side or rear-opening roof boxes.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - the sturdy lid of the motion xt holds up to a springtime wind storm...
The sturdy lid of the Motion XT holds up to a springtime wind storm in Bishop, California.
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

Security


This category was designed to look at everything concerning the security system of each cargo box. The Motion XT scored high marks in this metric due to its unique SlideLock mechanism, one of our favorite locking systems. We opened and closed these boxes dozens of times, trying to knock them off their tracks to see if there was any way they could be accidentally closed but not latched properly. The Motion XT was flawless.

We love the handles and easy-to-read locking indicators on the Motion. The system has a loud, satisfying click when the box is successfully latched. The all-around stiff construction of this box makes it simple to close, lock, and remove the key. Additionally, the SlideLock handle shows a red strip when not latched and is one of the only boxes in our review with this feature. We're not sure if it's really necessary, but we appreciate the design nonetheless.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - the motion xt&#039;s slidelock handle.
The Motion XT's SlideLock handle.
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

The sturdy lid contributes to security, and we never knocked this box off its track, making it one of the easiest carriers in our test to keep secure. It is impossible to remove the key unless the box is latched properly, so there's no way to lock the keys in the box or accidentally drive away with an unlocked box — unless, of course, you forgot to close it entirely.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - the motion xt stuffed to the brim for a ski and climb trip to mount...
The Motion XT stuffed to the brim for a ski and climb trip to Mount Whitney
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

Quality


For quality, we looked at both weather resistance and construction materials. We opened and closed this box countless times, shoving our skis and packs and camping gear in and out and trying to push its limits. We drove it through rain and windstorms, on the highway and dirt roads, and were always impressed by the nonchalant, unwavering acceptance of the elements.

While there are minuscule holes in the bottom of the box due to the customizable latching system, we feel confident that this box is just about as waterproof as they come — short of spraying a hose directly into one of these tiny holes. Driving rains were never an issue as we drove this box through storms in the High Sierras, and even the high-speed winds we encountered failed to shake or disrupt the Motion XT. Of course, we wouldn't want you to trust the life of your electronics to us, and since the manufacturer doesn't want to claim complete waterproofness, we still recommend you protect your valuables.

The Motion XT has one of our favorite lids of any box we tested. Its incredibly sturdy construction is easy to open with one hand, making it much easier to load big items like skis or heavy packs into the box. We were impressed by all the details of this product, from the solid hinges and handle to the thick, unyielding material. No aspect of this box gave us pause when considering its longevity, and we feel convinced that it will last a lifetime. Still not sure? Thule is so confident in their boxes that they come with a lifetime warranty.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - all components of the motion xt are high quality and reliable...
All components of the Motion XT are high quality and reliable, though the shiny exterior is more prone to showing wear and tear.
Credit: David Wise

Appearance


We realize that people will have different personal style preferences, but we shop for cars based on style, so why wouldn't we evaluate their accessories the same way? While most of our "long and lean" cargo boxes share the same general shape, we like the sleek look of the Motion XT and appreciate its tapered rear end to limit trunk door interference. We also appreciate that the handle is ergonomic without detracting from the box's sleek design and feel that all the details were thoughtfully calculated. We think this looks like a high-end cargo box, which it is.

Thule Motion XT XL cargo box - the classy motion xt is ready for any adventure.
The classy Motion XT is ready for any adventure.
Credit: Lauren DeLaunay

Value


Despite its high price tag, we fully support the claim that you get what you pay for with the Motion XT. It's a well-built option that is very convenient and easy to use. While the price point of some budget models may be a little easier to swallow, be prepared for a significant drop in performance.

Conclusion


The Thule Motion XT XL is a really nice cargo box. The combination of sturdy construction, thoughtful locking mechanisms, incredible mounting clamps, and an ergonomic handle easily earns it our solid recommendation. Despite its high price point, we can't imagine you'll ever be disappointed with this quality product.

Lauren DeLaunay
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