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Selecting Best Cargo Carrier Option for 2010 Nissan Altima Hybrid Sedan

Question:

I am considering intallation of a trailer hitch with cargo carrier vs. a rooftop cargo bag. My vehicle is a 2010 Altima Hybrid Sedan. Your website does not allow the hybrid option to be ed when looking for compatible products. Would the same trailer hitch products that appear for a non-hybrid Altima also fit a hybrid model? Any differences or added difficulty for the hybrid model? In regards to the Roof Bag, I do not have raised side rails or crossbars on my vehicle, therefore the bag would be installed directly to the rooftop. Any issues with scratching the paint or shifting during transport? I see that you also offer a non-skid protection pad, but is there concern with damage to the paint and there were a few reviews of the product slipping from under the bag while transporting. Is one option mentioned more fuel efficient than another? Thank you for your time and assistance.

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Expert Reply:

You ask good questions! We can help you decide which cargo carrying option, hitch carrier or roof bag, will be the best choice for your Altima and for your specific type of cargo.

In terms of sheer weight capacity the hitch wins hands down. The Class I hitches offered for your Altima Hybrid are light-duty types that can handle a maximum load of 200-lbs. This means that the carrier you select and its loaded cargo cannot exceed 200-lbs total. Your roof will have a weight capacity of about half that, and you can find that specific rating in your owner's manual. If you are transporting just lightweight items like clothing then a roof bag may offer you enough capacity, but for anything heavier the hitch carrier is a better choice. A hitch carrier will also have less effect on your fuel consumption and generate less wind noise.

I checked with Draw-Tite to confirm that their 1-1/4-inch Class I hitch # 24796 is a fit on your 2010 Altima Hybrid Sedan. It is, and it installs without any special concerns. You can see the installation in the video I linked for you.

For a hitch carrier that will work in this hitch I suggest the Curt 20x48 Cargo Carrier # C18110. This carrier offers enough weight capacity to fully utilize your Class I hitch and it will fit well at the back of the car.

From a cost perspective a waterproof rooftop bag like the Rightline # RL100S30, Car Clips # RL100600 and no-skid pad # RL100650 will have a lower total price tag. This option will generate more noise while you drive and will tend to have more effect on your mileage. Keeping the vehicle roof, the protective pad and the bottom of the cargo bag very clean will reduce the chance for any scratching of your paint, but certainly this is still potentially possible. Here the hitch option pulls ahead since it avoids this issue entirely.

Having a hitch also means you can use other hitch-mount accessory items like a 2-bike Class I bike rack. A great lightweight example is the Swagman XC # S64650 along with hitch lock # SHP2082 and bike cable lock # e98891.

The linked articles will help you make your selection.

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