The easiest way to go:
- roof mounted cargo bag,
- add an aftermarket hitch (no harness) and cargo tray
The big issues with those:
- security if you stop overnight at a hotel/motel, a sharp knife is all you need to remove bag or just the contents (might have remove items everynight)
- weather proofing for the bag
- roof bag scratching MDX roof because it isn't secured properly
- poor mpgs, aerodynamics, and wind noise with roof bag
I have OEM roof rails/crossbars and have an Yakima Rocket box already for several years I used with my RDX. A little better security, weather proof, and more aerodynamic. Downsides are harder to store in garage, 7 foot height limitations in parking garages, acts like a big sail on windy days, and I'm the only one that can put items in/out because it is too high for wife/kids.
Mrgold, I like the idea of an aftermarket hitch as well. Is this a DIY project or will it need to be installed professionally?
I found the roofbag online, but have concerns about the weatherproofing as well as noise. The Thule luggage compartments would be best in those regards, but roof rack installation would be the main issue.
I did the OEM hitch with harness (along with OEM roof rack and adv side steps). I ordered all 3 with Acura and got a discount on price, install labor, and shipping. I don't know the difficulty level for just installing the hitch alone. I did the hitch for my RDX and it took about 15-20 mins to do the 4 bolts with a second set hands. We didn't even have to jack the RDX up to secure the hidden hitch. Most of time was aligning the holes and getting the bolts started. We would have been a 5-min job with luck.
The only issue you might have with some aftermarket is they sometimes don't take a full-size spare (donut only). The OEM hitch can take a full size spare; but, it isn't as hidden from the rear like some aftermarket brands.
OEM Hitch+Harness+full size 255/50/19 tire spare with cover. Had to remover the center cover from bottom/center of bumper for install:
I ended up getting a StowAway2 Max with swing out arm last year to use along with my Yakima RocketBox. We (me, wife, 17 yr old kid) took a 2-week long vacation last year and the kid had a summer national track meet during that time in Jacksonville, FL (also stopped a few day in New Orleans). I ended up needing both for the long trip and zero problems with either one.
That was the only time I needed both. I usually only need one or the other for a normal trip for 3-4 people for 5-7 days. I really can't pick roof mount over the hitch mount because it really depends on what you need at the time. Roof mount is good for long items that are not too heavy (beach umbrella, skis, folding lawn chairs). I usually take the roofbox when I need to transport things that would normally cause you to fold down the 2nd row. I also like roof boxes for sports travel bags since they can be shaped to fill the roof box better than hard luggage. Hitch mount is good for bulky heavy items about suite case size too heavy to lift overhead into a roofbox.
The good thing about some aftermarket roof rail systems is you can get them extra wide to put two roof boxes side-by-side (or box+bikes, etc...). I think the roof lbs limit is 190lbs (roof rails lbs+roofbox lbs+cargo <190lbs). Some aftermarket rails or roof boxes might have a higher weight limit; but, the MDX does not.
With 3 kids and a 7 day cruise coming in April, we need all the options we can get. Space wise, we stepped down from a van to the MDX. Oldest can ride 3rd row with one seat down, but the amount of luggage needed for 5 on a week-long trip would surely not fit in that limited space.
Will the roof box fit in the back of the MDX with seats down? I ask because I will need to store whatever I use inside the vehicle while it sits in parking all week.
The hitch mount StowAway2 Max is too big for the hatch and will only fit my 2" hitch when traveling. I can fit my Yakima RocketBox Pro 14 inside my MDX with 2nd row folded. It will take up a lot of room in the MDX unless you can store some stuff inside it (or pop it open to place stuff). I haven't tried to put one of the second rows down to see it the Yakima would stores sideways in the hatch? I originally got my Rocketbox for my RDX; which, is a lot shorter/narrower than my MDX. Other roofbox models my be longer and may not fit inside the MDX (might have to side the front passenger side forward all the way).
Usually after anytime on the road, the rocketbox is covered in bug guts and I can see it stinking up the MDX in the hot sun if you store it in the back. I usually have to really scrub down my rocketbox after every trip to remove the guts before storing in the garage.
There is really no reason to remove the roof-box on the MDX unless there is a height restriction or policy at the parking lot. You can take the keys to unlock the box with you and the Yakima products are made to withstand any kind of weather. I sometimes take my roof box off when I reach my destination so I don't look like a tourist driving around town. I do this if there is a side door to our room and if there is enough space in the room or balcony to store (I have a long cable lock if there is a balcony).
The good thing about the hitch mounted cargo tray is it can hold about the same or more as the largest roofboxes and very easy to remove/store. I've seen the cargo trays with a pin that you can swing up to move out the way for parking. A extra large weather proof cargo bag+cargo tray would be easier to store in the back of the MDX.
Other downsides I've had with my large fixed hitch box were:
- blocked license plate, had to move license to hitch box for trips
- blocked back-up cam (had to rely on my old skills of backing up before back-up Cams)
- blocked back-up lights at night (MDX poor back-up lights sucked already)
I usually back my MDX into a parking spot against a wall or sidewalk. I don't want the cargo box sticking out in parking lot traffic lanes for someone to hit at night. This is why I decided on the StowAway2 instead of just a tray because of the added security like the cage in your post, easy access, and lights I can plug into my harness (parking, left/right turn, brakes).
The more I looked, the more issues that needed additional solutions started to pop-up. My travel needs required me to purchase 2 cargo carriers to get to the 90%-99% solution depending on what I needed. Too bad you don't live near ABQ because I would let you borrow either one of my cargo carriers for your trip.