Best Cargo Box For Subaru Outback [2024 Buyers Guide]

The Subaru Outback is known for its versatility and ruggedness. It’s also a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts who must transport their gear on the weekends or travel across the country.

But are you constantly inconvenienced by the lack of cargo space in your Subaru Outback? 

Your car has plenty of space for storage, but when you bring along the family dog or any other large item like skis and snowboards, it seems there isn’t enough room left over.

A perfect solution would be installing a cargo box on the rooftop to hold some of your stuff.

If you’re looking for one, I recommend the Thule Motion XT (XL) Rooftop Cargo Carrier as the best cargo box for Subaru Outback on the market.

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This review will help you get started in your search by looking at three leading products by Yakima and Goplus. We’ll look at their pros and cons, as well as some helpful tips on how to find the best cargo box for your Subaru Outback.

3 Best Cargo Boxes For Subaru Outback Reviewed

Here is our list of which cargo boxes we think are the best for Subaru Outback owners looking for extra storage on their next family road trip:

Best Overall Cargo Box: Thule Motion XT (XL) Rooftop Cargo Carrier


  • Capacity: 18 cu ft
  • Opening: Dual-sided opening
  • Weight Limit: 165 lbs
  • Dimensions: 84.5 x 36 x 17 inches
  • Item Weight: 46 lbs

If you’re looking for a sleek design, spacious, easy-to-install, and durable cargo box, this Thule Motion XT cargo box is the best Subaru Outback roof box.

Regardless of which model and generation Subaru Outback you’re driving, this cargo box will blend in easily with your car.

It measures 84.5 inches long by 36 inches wide by 17 inches high. It’ll easily hold larger items like suitcases and a couple of pairs of adult-size skis and snowboards. The maximum capacity of the cargo box is 165 lbs.

The cargo box is made from durable, impact-resistant ABS plastic material that will serve you for longer. In addition, the innovative quick-mount system allows you to secure the cargo box without using any tools. 

This dual-side opening makes it easy to load and unload, but the cover flexes a bit. It can be difficult to get open when you close the lid. Just make sure all latches are engaged, and you’ll be fine.

The Thule Motion XT Cargo box has a lifetime warranty to give you complete peace of mind. Overall, you simply can’t go wrong with the Thule Motion XT Rooftop XL Cargo Carrier.

Most Aerodynamic: Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box, Large


  • Capacity: 16 cu ft
  • Opening: Dual-sided opening
  • Weight Limit: 165 lbs
  • Dimensions: 74.75 x 33 x 18 inches
  • Item Weight: 41.23 lbs

At first glance, the Thule Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box looks identical to Thule Motion XT. The notable difference is the AeroSkin finish of the Force XT and the gloss finish of the Motion XT.

Another feature of the Thule Force XT is it has a lock knob system that engages the linkage.

This 16 cu ft cargo box is a little bulkier at the back to accommodate taller gears towards the back of the box. It doesn’t interfere with the rear antenna when the rear hatch is fully open. The front aerodynamic design will reduce wind resistance and improve gas mileage.

The Thule Force XT is an excellent option for all your storage needs. It can store up to seven pairs of skis or snowboards, and its dual-sided lockable compartment ensures safety and security.

Thule Force XT will allow you to open from both sides. It’s so easy to access; however, some owners complain that closing is difficult. You must put it all together and close it properly to make it work.

The Thule Force XT is a great alternative to the Motion XT if you’re looking for something slightly cheaper and can still hold up a lot of travel gear on your Subaru Outback.

Best Cargo Box For Family Trips: Goplus Cargo Box


  • Capacity: 14 cu ft
  • Opening: Dual-sided opening
  • Weight Limit: 165 lbs
  • Dimensions: 63 x 31 x 15 inches
  • Item Weight: 25 lbs

If you don’t ski and are looking for some extra room for your suitcases, small bags, or camping gear, the 14 cu ft Cargo Box by Goplus is a perfect choice.

Not only does it come in a little cheaper than the 2 Thule models, but it only weighs about 25 pounds, making it pretty lightweight as far as rooftop cargo carriers go. It has a dual-sided opening and is easy to handle by one person, even seniors (yes, I’ve watched my Uncle install this one to verify!)

The cargo box measures 63 inches long by 31 inches wide by 15 inches high. It’s a low-profile box; going in and out of your garage shouldn’t be a problem. In addition, the box is equipped with four quick-connect anchors for easy installation.

The carrier is durable ABS material that protects your items from all elements. The robust cargo box design allows you to pack all your stuff to a maximum capacity of 165 pounds

To improve its security feature, the Goplus Cargo Box has a double-lock mechanism that removes your key after the cover is fully closed and locked.

The Goplus Cargo Box comes in three different color options, too. The white cargo box could be a perfect match if your Subaru Outback is Crystal White Pearl (however, one owner reported that it changed to yellowish because of sunlight exposure over time)

We’d always recommend storing your Subaru Outback car top carrier in your garage when not in use to keep it in tip-top condition.

How To Choose The Best Cargo Box For Your Subaru Outback

There are several reasons to consider buying a cargo box for your Subaru Outback. Despite its roomy interior (you can get over 32 cubic feet behind the rear seats), you can free up a great deal of room and work with bulkier items by moving your suitcases or items like skis and fishing rods to the roof.

Here are a few factors to consider when buying your first Subaru Outback roof cargo carrier.

Cargo Box Capacity

Cargo boxes come in various sizes, and the most available on the market are 8, 12, 16, 18, and 22 cubic feet. If you have a growing family with 2-3 kids, getting the very large one, like the 18 cu ft, makes sense, and the 22 cu ft is probably not fit with the Subaru Outback.

I would opt for an 18 cu ft capacity because these boxes can hold suitcases or duffels without difficulty, as well as camping gear, fishing gear, skis, or snowboards that you might bring along. However, the 16 cu ft cargo is perfectly fine for most people.

If you’re going on ski trips, measure the length and width of your skis to get an idea of what cargo box dimensions will work best.

Large boxes can have big negatives as well. One of the issues with a large car box is that it can be challenging to store. Another point is, of course, the pricing is a tad expensive.

The Ability To Open The Rear Hatch

One of the factors you must consider when choosing a cargo carrier for Subaru Outback is to make sure the cargo box size allows the hatch to open fully. If the cargo box is too long, it can impact the ability to open the rear hatch.

The Thule Motion XT and Thule Force XT are 18 cu ft cargo boxes and well-sized for the Subaru Outback. Even though the rear hatch is fully open, there are still a couple of inches of clearance for the hatch and shark fin antenna.  

Choose A Low Profile Cargo Carrier

The height of your garage clearance should be an important factor in choosing the correct cargo box size for you. Ensure you get one with low-profile dimensions so it will fit under a garage without scraping against its top. 

In addition, the low-profile cargo box will improve the aerodynamics of your car and give you less drag while still giving you enough space to carry all your gear.

How Does It Impact Your Gas Mileage?

The weight and drag of your cargo box can significantly impact your gas mileage. If you’re driving around with a cargo box, you might get around a 2mpg loss. So, expect to get a little less gas mileage than usual.

The cargo box’s aerodynamic design can help reduce wind resistance and improve gas mileage- hence why we are huge fans of cargo barrier boxes rather than baskets on the roof of your Subaru.  

FAQ – Subaru Outback Roof Storage

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Subaru Outback cargo carrier solutions:

What size cargo box should I get for a growing family?

Thule Motion XT (XL) is a popular choice for families with four adults, as it allows full tailgate opening and can hold reasonable amounts of luggage.

Do I need to buy extra locks to avoid theft?

All the cargo boxes we recommended in our post come with locks included as standard. You won’t have to buy extra ones.

What size of cargo box can fit my 180 cm skis?

The Thule Motion XT (XL) cargo box is the right size for your skis or similar-sized snowboards. Please check out the 22 cu ft version if you have something larger than this, but be mindful of your ability to open the hatch if you are using something larger than 18 cu ft.

What is the best crossbar for Subaru Outback Cargo Box?

Here, we have covered more details about the best roof rack for Subaru Outback. But if you want a quick answer, we recommend Thule Wingbar Evo Crossbars as the best one for this type of SUV.

Our Verdict

If you’ve ever felt like your Subaru Outback has insufficient storage space, it might be time to give in and purchase a cargo box. The Motion XT (XL) is our favorite because it can easily hold large items like suitcases and a couple of pairs of adult-size skis and snowboards.

If an 18 cu ft cargo box is too big for your needs, we recommend looking into Thule Force XT or Goplus Cargo Box.

We hope this article will help you find the perfect cargo box for your Subaru Outback.

You can find all of Terry’s detailed cargo-carrying guides over here.

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