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After our trip to drop the kids off at college we decided to look for a cartop carrier for a bit of extra room. We then found the option of hitch carriers. Does anyone have experience with one over the other or brands that streamline it all well enough to make a gas mileage difference? Thanks
 

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For the rooftop carriers the size is probably the most important gas mileage factor. More surface area is going to be worse gas mileage. As long as you don’t pick one of those plain boxy looking ones the difference in gas mileage isn’t going to be all that much. Don’t forget about price too. If you pay twice as much for a Thule hyper xl you’ll probably never make up the difference by saving gas money, but it will look nice up there!
 

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If you want something up top, then the most streamlined is best and light weight helps, too. For a hitch receiver mounted carrier, streamlining is less of a factor. These are available as open units (most prevalent) as well as closable/lockable containers. In either case with the hitch receiver mounted solution, if it blocks your license plate, you need to move the plate onto the carrier to be in compliance with the law in most jurisdictions. I have an aluminum hitch receiver mounted open carrier I obtained from Northern Tool a number of years ago...actually bought it while on vacation travel to help clear more space inside of my vehicle for humans.

Lots of discussion about solutions in the Accessories area of this forum. ;)
 
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When considering options you may want to also think about convenience and security. I’m very tall and my wife is not, with the roof top I would have to do all the lifting. On the other hand, I would think that an open hitch carrier is easier for unsavory characters to get to.
 

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I use a Thule Motion XL. Fuel economy goes down quickly above 75mph, but it's hard to notice the difference if you drive 65mph. Why that box and not a different one? Good load ratings, looks good on the car, can be opened from both sides and it's easy to attach. Also it's light enough so I can lift it by myself and put it on the roof without any help (that's important to me). Another point is the attachment works well with the Subaru cross bars, so if your vehicle already has them you don't need to spend more money on proprietary bars.
Has a good locking mechanism but a determined thief can always use a crowbar and break the plastic top, it's not that strong.

My suggestion to you is: forget mpg and get a box that carries what you need. The penalty at the pump is minimal and you can always blame the headwind. But not being able to fit all the bags your mother in law wants to bring to the trip... will cost you dearly (all similarity with real events is a mere coincidence :rolleyes:) and you can only blame yourself.
 

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I've got both. Our Thule rooftop carrier is an old one, lacks some streamlining of the newer models but it's got a round nose. In my previous experience as an aero engineer, drag is an much the nose shape as the tail, and the back end of the Thule box is an angled cutoff -- pretty swirly air and drag back there. At highway speed, I definitely see a couple mpg drop, but that's in combination with the skis next to it. Anyway, the box holds a lot, opens from both sides, and locks. We love it. (We call it the Chicklet, for you gum chewers. Or Spock's Tomb, for you Wrath of Khan fans).
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Automotive exterior Mid-size car


The hitch box is from Stowaway, is gigantic, swings out to clear the hatch, locks, and robs zero mpg. I love it.
Land vehicle Vehicle Trunk Car Automotive tire


Land vehicle Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Automotive tire

You can see the swing mechanism in the second hitch box pic. It's beefy - my 100 lb kid can sit on the box and bounce around and not worry that the hinge will bend.

F.S.
 

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We Used a hitch carrier for our long trip to the beach over the summer. Got one of the weatherproof bags to go in it.
Curt Hitch Carrier

Zero drain on our gas mileage and added a ton of extra utility. We had all 3 rows up with a car full of kids/teens and were able to pack everything we needed and still get 27-28 MPG on the drive.
 

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A rooftop tent makes quite a bit of difference in mileage, a decrease of 17%. The decrease would not be so great for an ordinary rooftop box.

 

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I like the lightweight aluminum hitch carrier I have from Harbor Freight, about $50 w/ coupon when they go on sale. It's rated for 500lbs but IMO I would not to exceed 300lbs. Overall, it's very effective to carry stuff and not have to worry about space or getting the cabin dirty.

I was never a big fan of using roof rack on my previous SUV (4Runner) because it's not very practical and can be difficult for multi-person use.
 

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We have a mid-sized Thule rooftop box. It looks fairly aerodynamic. We got up to 29mpg with the box on top on a recent trip.
ditto. we've been well satisfied with the Thule box. It affects mpg, but it's also performing a key function by hauling our (extra) stuff securely. it's also easy to get on and off.

fwiw, we have a factory hitch and have used a, light,aluminium open cargo tray with good success. the next hitch item we'll get is a Thule bike mount.
 

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Please see my older post. I do have the cross bars on but I fix the cargo carrier when needed. No notable mileage loss from what I found.
 

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I went with rooftop Thule. I think it looks better, doesn't involve moving a license plate, doesn't block the backup camera, and you can park in normal parking spots without worrying about sticking out. We use ours for skis and snowboards as well...so those wouldn't fit in the other one anyways.
 

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Those are good points! Tradeoffs.

When I use my hitch box, I do have to move the license plate (and I got tamper-resistant bolts on everything, so I have to pull out the Special Screwdriver set), and the resulting car length is such that I can't comfortably load in the garage (it all fits, but there's no room to swing it open, so I can't open the Ascent hatch unless I load in the driveway).

It does block the backup camera, but I have a Touring with the camera mirror, so I can see behind... but it looks out rather than down, so not an identical replacement for the backup cam view.

One more, mounting it on the hitch is a one person job (tilt up, rest 2" mount on the lip, lift up, and push in). But removing it is a 2-person job so I don't drop it on my foot. The rooftop Thule is light and can be a 1 person job.

But it sure is nice to have all that deep and wide space, just cavernous. And I don't need to step up on anything to load/unload. And the height of the car is unaffected so I can go into parking garages without worry (Thule rooftop box puts me at 8'2"). Each does a slightly different job.

With both boxes mounted, there is lots of room left in the car!

F.S.
 

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With both boxes mounted, there is lots of room left in the car!
Indeed there is! But remember, there's still a finite amount of weight you can carry, regardless of location. ;) That varies by trim level...there's a discussion somewhere in the technical area...probably towing...that details those numbers if I recall correctly. The weight limit includes people and stuff combined.
 
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True, and the roof rack has limits (I can't quote the number, but I remember concluding that my 150lb roof top tent plus crossbars barely slides under the limit).

Basically, don't put all the heavy gear up top in the Thule chicklet.

F.S.
 

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True, and the roof rack has limits (I can't quote the number, but I remember concluding that my 150lb roof top tent plus crossbars barely slides under the limit).

Basically, don't put all the heavy gear up top in the Thule chicklet.

F.S.
There is a Static and Dynamic load limit to worry about...

Static is when your parked and not moving while dynamic is while your in motion.

I have found that the Static load can me much higher and will handle the load of a tent and a few adults as well.
Page 384 of the Owners Manual states:

1) Roof rails Cargo can be carried on the roof after securing the roof crossbars to the roof rails and installing the appropriate carrying attachments. When installing the roof crossbars and the carrying attachments,follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The roof rail system is designed to carry loads(cargo,roof crossbars and carrying attachments) of no more than 176lbs (80kg). Be sure not to exceed your vehicle’s GVWR and GAWR.
Pages 385 & 386 talk about Roof Top Tents:

The total weight on the roof rails–including the roof crossbars, roof tent, and all occupants and contents in the roof tent – must not exceed either the vehicle’s roof rail load limit (700 lbs (317 kg)), evenly distributed,or the load limit of the roof crossbars,which ever is lower.
DOWNLOAD THE MANUAL as there are MANY CAUTIONS stated within....

CAREFUL WHAT RAILS YOU BUY FOR THE ASCENT...
Not all are equal and some carry surprisingly less weight. The dynamic load rating on some of the rails options may fall below the weight of the actual roof top tent or cargo you may plan to carry.
 

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More than everything anyone would want to know about roof rail limits and a few choices...

 

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ROOF or HITCH

We were looking at both types roof or hitch. Finally went with a Curt 18153 Folding Hitch, when not using could fold up.. As we are Seniors late 60’s and 70’s. It was easier to load and unload from the rear height versus the roof. Plus the rack with bag weighted 65# and would carry 500# total weight vs. much more than any roof carrier, Just completed 4,900 mile road trip with 4 adults, luggage for 20 days and it worked great. With this rear hitch the rear lid will operate. Mileage was not effected, if any minimum and no wind noise even at 80 mph South Dakota’s interstate limit.
1565
 
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