As the proud owner of a Toyota Highlander, you appreciate the blend of spaciousness, reliability, and style that this mid-size SUV brings to your life. However, even the most spacious of vehicles can run out of storage space, especially during those long road trips or family vacations. This is where a roof cargo box, a convenient and efficient solution for augmenting your vehicle’s storage capacity, comes into play.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top roof cargo boxes suitable for a Toyota Highlander, considering factors such as size, load capacity, aerodynamics, and ease of installation. Let’s start this journey towards finding your perfect rooftop companion.
1. SportRack Vista XL Rear Opening Cargo Box
Envision being on the road, a melody of the road’s rhythm and your favourite tunes filling the air, as your car’s roof carries an unobtrusive companion – the SportRack SR7018 Vista XL Cargo Box. Its contour, angled to cut through the air, almost hums a tune of its own, complementing the serene road-trip scene.
|Spacious storage||Limited compatibility|
|Durable construction||Added weight and drag|
|Weatherproof design||Installation complexity|
With 18 cubic feet of storage space, this cargo box has reimagined car travel for me. Its voluminous capacity is like a magic trick – stowing away essentials and then some, yet maintaining a streamlined, aerodynamic silhouette. Built with sturdy ABS plastic, it combats impact, defends against UV rays, and shields my gear from the elements, providing a waterproof haven. It’s as if the box not just carries but also cares for your belongings, a quality that sets it apart.
The ease of installation is another highlight. The box employs U-bolts that weave through the rack loadbars and into the box’s interior. Add to this mix quick-release hardware that attaches to the U-bolt threads, and voila – you have a cargo box secure and ready for adventures. And if you’re worried about rainy day escapades, fear not! The box includes vinyl hole covers that provide an extra layer of protection, keeping the interiors dry regardless of the weather.
Now, onto my favourite feature – the rear-oriented lid opening. It may seem inconsequential at first, but trust me when I say that it makes a world of difference. It not only alleviates worries of interrupting adjacent traffic but also ingeniously allows the rear bumper to serve as a step for easy reach. The automatic lid, a thoughtful touch, stays open for convenience and creates a waterproof seal when closed, further enhancing the box’s utility.
2. YAKIMA RocketBox Pro Rooftop Cargo Box
Without a doubt, as an Acura MDX owner with factory aero rack, I’ve found the YAKIMA RocketBox Pro Rooftop Cargo Box to be a pretty decent travel companion, despite its minor imperfections.
Let’s start off with the good aspects, which for me outweigh the negatives. First, its sturdiness is remarkable – it feels robust and sturdy, like it was built to stand up to the trials of travel. The opening and closing mechanism functions seamlessly, which is quite a relief, considering the nightmare I had with my last cargo box. When it comes to adjustments, the process is straightforward and the box fit snugly onto my roof rack without any hitch. Moreover, the clamps that secure it down are durable and the locks are efficient – it’s a clever design where you can’t remove the key without locking it up, a nifty little feature.
|Sturdy and robust construction||Impact on fuel efficiency|
|Seamless opening and closing mechanism||Limitations on what can be carried|
|Easy and secure installation||Rattling when empty|
|Durable clamps and efficient locks||Tapered design and slightly higher height|
|Ample storage capacity||Folding clips can make positioning tricky|
On its maiden journey, this cargo box was a champ. I was able to fit in three carry-on bags, some baby gear, and a myriad of beach toys. And while it couldn’t accommodate a baby rock and play, I chalk that up to its tapering width. On the whole, the box is a silent passenger, causing barely any noise on the roof.
However, like all things, it isn’t without its drawbacks. The impact on fuel efficiency is the most noticeable issue. At 60 MPH, it’s hardly noticeable, but crank it up to 70 or 75 MPH and you’ll see a reduction of 2-3 MPG and 5-6 MPG respectively. It’s a tad disappointing given I had anticipated it to be more aerodynamic. Also, the box’s tapered design and the slightly higher height than expected pose some limitations to what you can carry.
The cargo box rattles a little when empty, but I suspect it’s more a matter of the rack needing to be tightened after a few hundred miles. As for storage when not in use, a nifty hack of hanging it on a 1X2 on my garage wall works splendidly and maximizes space.
As for the weight, let’s just say I’m no bodybuilder, but I can manage to install and remove the box without any assistance, even on my sloped driveway, which is quite the testament to its manageable weight and easy installation. A minor quirk is the folding clips, which can make positioning a bit tricky, but I’ll take that over the need for a dead center alignment any day.
3. Thule 613 Pulse Cargo Box Alpine
From the moment I embarked on my first road trip with this cargo box, I knew I had made the right choice. Enduring the harshest conditions, including relentless rain, heavy snowfall, and cruising at high speeds of 75 mph and beyond, the Thule 613 Pulse Alpine proved its mettle. It weathered the storm, quite literally, and kept my belongings completely dry, even in the face of blowing, torrential rain. Talk about peace of mind during those unpredictable adventures!
What truly impressed me was the seamless installation process. Right out of the box, it was a breeze to set up, and taking it on and off became second nature in no time. I appreciate products that prioritize user-friendliness, and the Thule 613 Pulse Alpine definitely checks that box. Its sleek design adds an air of sophistication to my vehicle, effortlessly blending style and functionality.
|Weatherproof and keeps belongings dry||Interior could use slight improvement|
|Seamless and user-friendly installation||Mounting brackets compromise interior space|
One standout feature that sets this cargo box apart is its slim profile. It’s astonishingly compact, allowing me to effortlessly drive under my carport without the need for removal. No more logistical headaches or wasted time! Furthermore, parking garages are no longer a cause for concern. With the Thule 613 Pulse Alpine on my Kia Telluride, I confidently pass through with a height of only 7′ 2″, comfortably clearing the 7′ 6″ clearance that most garages provide. Freedom to explore without limitations? Yes, please!
My primary motivation for acquiring this carrier was to accommodate my skis and various other essentials during cross-country drives. I can proudly say that the Thule 613 Pulse Alpine has fulfilled that goal and then some. The installation process was a breeze, and while it is fairly lightweight, I found that having an extra set of hands made it even easier to handle due to its length. However, I must admit that the interior could use a slight improvement. The mounting brackets compromise the flatness of the bottom, resulting in a small loss of space, particularly when carrying longer items like skis. Nevertheless, the cargo box easily accommodated two sets of skis and poles, along with a few other boxy items, ensuring that my gear was secure and accessible throughout my travels.
Now, let’s talk performance. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the slimline design of the Thule 613 Pulse Alpine had no noticeable impact on my vehicle’s fuel efficiency. My MPG remained consistent, allowing me to venture further and longer without worrying about unnecessary stops at the gas station. What’s more, I decided to push the limits and put this cargo box to the test. Speeding past the 100 mph mark, I experienced no flutter or shaking. The Thule 613 Pulse Alpine proved to be a steadfast companion, enhancing my driving experience without compromising safety or stability.
4. Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier
Having owned my 2022 Hyundai Palisade for a while now, one aspect I felt could be improved was the storage space for those long drives I’m quite fond of. That’s when the Thule Motion XT Rooftop Cargo Carrier came into the picture, and since then, I have wondered why I hadn’t made this addition sooner.
Sure, the price tag might initially cause a slight gasp, but I can assure you that it’s a worthy investment. My choice was the XXL glossy variant, and I was pleasantly surprised by its voluminous size, giving my car a dashing look. As with all good things, this too required some effort – to load on the vehicle – but the installation thereafter was smooth sailing and quite effortless.
|Voluminous size and dashing appearance||Modest increase in road noise|
|Effortless installation||Slight dip in driving efficiency|
|Convenient access from both sides||Potential shipping damages|
The real test of this rooftop carrier, however, was during our family trips. We managed to easily fit in three large suitcases, a feature that was enhanced by the convenience of being able to access it from both sides. Its robust construction remained quiet even at 75 mph on windy highways, almost making me forget its existence atop my vehicle. Yes, we encountered dust storms, but the resilient carrier bore only minimal, almost invisible scratches.
Impressively, our gas consumption was barely affected, dropping by just 1 mpg, considering the size and weight of the carrier. I was initially concerned about potential shipping damages, as I had come across a few such instances in reviews, but I was relieved to find my product arriving intact, despite some damage to the cardboard box it was shipped in.
One feature that particularly stood out for me was the security system. The audible click reassured me that the box was closed securely, and the fact that the key wouldn’t release until it was fully locked was a boon, ensuring the safety of our belongings. All I needed was a quick turn to secure the points, although I’d advise enlisting some assistance while removing it to prevent any possible scratches.
Admittedly, the product does come with a slight downside, which seems to be a general trait amongst all rooftop carriers – a modest increase in road noise and a slight dip in driving efficiency. However, given the massive benefits it offers, this minor hiccup can be easily overlooked, especially for first-time users who might find it helpful to be aware of this.
Lastly, a piece of advice – do not forget to register your product immediately after receiving it for warranty purposes. You will find the serial number on stickers inside the cargo box.
5. Goplus Cargo Box
I recently purchased the Goplus Cargo Box for my 06 Scion xB, and it has been an interesting experience. As an auto enthusiast, I appreciate good design and functionality, and this cargo box offers a blend of both, though with a few areas that could use improvement.
One of the primary reasons I purchased this cargo box was its aesthetic. The titanium gray top and black bottom look sleek and seamlessly blend with the color scheme of my car. Size-wise, it covers almost the entire roof of my vehicle, leaving about 11 inches free on one side, which works perfectly for me.
This cargo box claims to hold up to 165lbs, and I must say it does offer ample space. It accommodates my spare tire, an ice scraper, and a mini snow shovel comfortably. There is even additional room for my hammock tent, boots, and other gear. Although I’ve never loaded it to full capacity, I am confident it can handle up to 100lbs without any issues.
|Titanium Gray top, black bottom; blends well with my car.||Top is quite thin and may warp under high temperatures.|
|Perfect fit for my 06 Scion xB, covers almost the entire roof.||Plastic; potential for front catching wind and opening at high speeds.|
|Claims to hold up to 165lbs, enough space for spare tire and additional gear.||Same as Thule and more expensive boxes; hand-operated top that closes the claw underneath; not a good design.|
|Opens from either side for more versatility.||Arrived with minor superficial scratches; no protective padding or styrofoam in packaging.|
What I find particularly handy about the Goplus Cargo Box is its dual-side opening feature. This offers significant versatility when it comes to mounting other items to the roof. However, I do have some concerns about the box’s construction. The top is quite thin and seems like it might warp under high temperatures. The bottom, on the other hand, feels much more robust and sturdy.
A significant downside I noticed is the locking mechanism. While I appreciate that it comes with two keys that cannot be removed until the lock is secure, I was disappointed to find that the locks are made of plastic. I would have expected a more durable material, especially given the price of the cargo box.
Speaking of the price, I must mention the condition in which the cargo box arrived. It had some superficial scratches and a small nick on the bottom – nothing major, but still not something you’d expect from a product in this price range. Also, it was shipped without any protective padding or styrofoam, which was surprising and concerning.
Understanding Your Toyota Highlander
Before diving into the world of roof boxes, it’s crucial to understand the specifications of your Toyota Highlander. As a mid-size SUV, the Highlander boasts a robust roof capable of supporting a substantial roof box. However, the size and weight of the roof box must be within the vehicle’s roof load capacity to ensure safe and efficient operation.
What Makes a Great Roof Box for the Toyota Highlander?
When it comes to selecting the perfect roof box for your Toyota Highlander, there are myriad options available in the market, each with their own set of unique features and benefits. However, not all of them are primed for a seamless fit with your SUV. Here’s an in-depth exploration of the key considerations to make when selecting a roof box for your Toyota Highlander:
Size does matter when it comes to roof boxes. The perfect roof box should optimally utilize the expansive roof space of your Highlander without extending beyond the vehicle’s width or length. Choosing a roof box that’s too large can lead to increased wind resistance and potential difficulties maneuvering your vehicle, especially in tight spaces. On the other hand, a roof box that’s too small may not provide the additional storage space you need. Thus, striking a balance between size and efficiency is crucial.
The weight of the roof box is another significant factor to consider. The combined weight of the roof box and its contents should remain within the roof load capacity of your Highlander. Overloading the roof box can lead to issues with vehicle stability and handling, and in severe cases, may even damage your vehicle’s roof or roof rack. It’s essential to confirm the roof load capacity of your Highlander and ensure you don’t exceed it, even when the roof box is fully loaded.
The design and shape of a roof box can have a substantial impact on your vehicle’s aerodynamics. A well-designed roof box should aim to minimize air resistance, effectively reducing drag and potential fuel consumption. Roof boxes with sleek, aerodynamic designs not only enhance fuel efficiency but also reduce wind noise during travel. Therefore, when shopping for a roof box, consider models with streamlined shapes and smooth surfaces.
4. Ease of Installation
The best roof box should offer a seamless installation process. In today’s fast-paced world, you want a roof box that can be mounted and removed as needed without complex tools or extensive effort. Many modern roof boxes offer tool-free installation, a feature that can save you time and reduce hassle. Additionally, consider roof boxes with quick-release systems that allow for easy on-and-off without compromising the secure attachment of the box to your roof rack.
Protecting your belongings during your travels is paramount. A high-quality roof box should come equipped with sturdy locking mechanisms to secure your items. Look for roof boxes with lock systems that prevent the key from being removed until the box is properly closed and locked. Some advanced models also offer additional security features, such as dual-side locks for enhanced protection.
When assessing these factors, it’s important to remember that the best roof box for your Toyota Highlander is one that meets your specific needs, be it storage capacity, security, or ease of installation. The ideal roof box should be a balance of these critical considerations, providing a reliable and efficient solution for your extra storage needs.
Finding the perfect roof cargo box for your Toyota Highlander is a journey that requires a clear understanding of your vehicle’s specifications and a careful evaluation of the roof boxes available in the market. By considering factors such as size, weight, aerodynamics, ease of installation, and security, you can choose a roof box that not only enhances the storage capacity of your Highlander but also complements its style and performance. Happy travels!