Thule Motion XT XL Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Easy to install, ergonomic handle, sleek design
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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