Reviews

LAST UPDATED:  November 15, 2019

Best Car Coolers: Keep Snacks Cold on a Hot Day

A car cooler will keep your drinks cool and close at hand during a trip

Entering our 7th season of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and with millions of YouTube and Facebook followers, The Drive is a leading authority of all things automotive.

The Drive on NBC The Drive on YouTube The Drive on Facebook

The Review Team

  • Product Network

    17 Products

  • Clock

    9 Hours

  • Reviews

    11 Reviews

How We Decided

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

PUBLISHED ON November 15, 2019

Some drivers spend a lot of time in their cars. It can be expensive and inconvenient to stop on your drive to buy food and drinks. Car coolers provide a great option for snacking while driving. You can save time and money by packing some beverages and easy-to-eat food items instead. Our buying guide features some of the best car coolers on the market.

Best Overall
CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

A mostly polyester cooler bag designed to keep your drinks and beverages cold. This option contains a Velcro handle for easy transport and can be used for any outdoor endeavor.

Pros
Pros
  • This bag can hold up to 50 cans in addition to ice
  • This option also can be used for either grocery store trips or food delivery services
  • Its collapsible construction allows for easy storage whether it is in use or not
Cons
Cons
  • Lining has been prone to leakage
  • Its ability to keep items cold isn’t as extensive as other options
  • Snap hinges may need to be snapped more than once for functionality
Best Overall
CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag
Best Value
Arctic Zone Titan Cooler
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This shoulder bag carry car cooler is available in three sizes. The inner hard shell keeps the soft-sided cooler from collapsing. Add pre-frozen ice-blocks and you are ready to go.

Pros
Pros
  • Cooler has several pockets for storing various items
  • Comes with a zipperless, flip-open lid for easy access
  • This bag is leakproof
  • Inner liner can be removed easily for cleaning
Cons
Cons
  • You will need to purchase reusable ice blocks and freeze them before using them
  • Once the ice starts defrosting, the temperature may not stay cold for as long as you need it
Best Value
Arctic Zone Titan Cooler
Honorable Mention
Wagan Electric Cooler
LEARN MORE
Summary
Summary

This is a car cooler that looks like an armrest. It can be used for keeping food cold or hot. Connector included. Has no handle, but it can be easily moved with two hands.

Pros
Pros
  • Has two external cup holders and a central spot to hold other small items
  • Cooling capacity of 32-36 degrees
  • Offers plenty of space, as it can hold up to 30 cans
  • At less than 12 inches wide, it can be used as an armrest
Cons
Cons
  • Does not have a handle for transport
  • This is a cooler, not a refrigerator
  • Works as a warmer, not a product that will heat your food
  • You will need to purchase an additional adapter if you want to plug in this unit at home
Honorable Mention
Wagan Electric Cooler

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Overall

The CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag earns its Best Car Cooler Overall distinction for a variety of reasons. This option measures 18. 25"L x 12. 25"W x 12"H when open and collapses flat to three inches. This option is lightweight enough for easy carrying while compact enough to fit inside any vehicle for road traveling. The CleverMade can hold up to 50 cans of your favorite drinks. It also contains the capacity to hold enough ice to keep these cans cold during any outing to the beach, park, camping, or any youth sporting events. This option contains snap hinges on both sides of the cooler bags that offer structured support when the tote is open. Pushing the side hinges closes the cooler and returns it into a flat position. This option also comes in handy for food delivery service or grocery store trips, making this option the personification of durability. 

Best Overall
CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag

The CleverMade Collapsible Cooler Bag earns its Best Car Cooler Overall distinction for a variety of reasons. This option measures 18. 25"L x 12. 25"W x 12"H when open and collapses flat to three inches. This option is lightweight enough for easy carrying while compact enough to fit inside any vehicle for road traveling. The CleverMade can hold up to 50 cans of your favorite drinks. It also contains the capacity to hold enough ice to keep these cans cold during any outing to the beach, park, camping, or any youth sporting events. This option contains snap hinges on both sides of the cooler bags that offer structured support when the tote is open. Pushing the side hinges closes the cooler and returns it into a flat position. This option also comes in handy for food delivery service or grocery store trips, making this option the personification of durability. 

Best Value

The Arctic Zone Titan Cooler provides the efficiency you demand from any car cooler at a reasonable price. The Titan’s interior liner dimensions are (L x W x H) 9.8" x 4.75" x 10.25". These measurements allow for the storage of several water bottles, soda cans, or any other items requiring cool temperature maintenance. This option contains deep freeze high-performance insulation with a radiant heat barrier that reflects heat instead of absorbing it. The Titan contains a patented, flip open zipper-free lid which allows for quick, seamless access to food and drinks. This option is leak-proof, helping to protect your storage area from leaking bag contents. The Titan contains an easy-clean interior lining that maintains the cleanliness and integrity of your bag in between uses. The Titan offers the convenience you need to store anything you need.

Best Value
Arctic Zone Titan Cooler

The Arctic Zone Titan Cooler provides the efficiency you demand from any car cooler at a reasonable price. The Titan’s interior liner dimensions are (L x W x H) 9.8" x 4.75" x 10.25". These measurements allow for the storage of several water bottles, soda cans, or any other items requiring cool temperature maintenance. This option contains deep freeze high-performance insulation with a radiant heat barrier that reflects heat instead of absorbing it. The Titan contains a patented, flip open zipper-free lid which allows for quick, seamless access to food and drinks. This option is leak-proof, helping to protect your storage area from leaking bag contents. The Titan contains an easy-clean interior lining that maintains the cleanliness and integrity of your bag in between uses. The Titan offers the convenience you need to store anything you need.

Honorable Mention

The Wagan Electric Cooler is another fantastic option for traveling. This option shows its versatility by keeping cold items cold and warm items warm. Its internal dimensions measure 12" x 8.25" x 5.5" (LxWxH). These dimensions allow for easy storage of up to 12 soda cans. Standard size water bottles also fit inside, along with healthy snacks like fruit or yogurt. This option’s external dimensions measure 19" x 10.25" x 12" (LxWxH), allowing for convenient vehicle storage. The Wagan contains a 14L 12v cooler/warmer, allowing drivers to save money and time by enjoying food and drinks on the go inside your vehicle. This option comes in especially handy for rideshare drivers who are driving all day. The Wagan contains a hot/cold/off switch with indicator lights for instantly viewing which temperature mode is in use. The Wagan provides efficient food and beverage storage required every time you’re on the road.

Honorable Mention
Wagan Electric Cooler

The Wagan Electric Cooler is another fantastic option for traveling. This option shows its versatility by keeping cold items cold and warm items warm. Its internal dimensions measure 12" x 8.25" x 5.5" (LxWxH). These dimensions allow for easy storage of up to 12 soda cans. Standard size water bottles also fit inside, along with healthy snacks like fruit or yogurt. This option’s external dimensions measure 19" x 10.25" x 12" (LxWxH), allowing for convenient vehicle storage. The Wagan contains a 14L 12v cooler/warmer, allowing drivers to save money and time by enjoying food and drinks on the go inside your vehicle. This option comes in especially handy for rideshare drivers who are driving all day. The Wagan contains a hot/cold/off switch with indicator lights for instantly viewing which temperature mode is in use. The Wagan provides efficient food and beverage storage required every time you’re on the road.

Honorable Mention

Our second honorable mention goes to the Lifewit Collapsible Cooler Bag. This option measures 14.9 x 8.6 x 11 inch / 38 x 22 x 28 cm (L x W x H), proving to be the perfect travel companion on any outing. It also holds up to 32 cans in addition to ice, allowing for the cooling and maintaining of cold beverages. The Lifewit’s exterior is constructed out of high-density, water-resistant, dirt-proof oxford fabric which makes it durable, waterproof, and easy to clean. It comes equipped with one wide top pocket, two side pockets, and two front pockets that allow for the storage of different items. Lifewit contains a padded handle and a detachable shoulder strap that offers three carrying styles. This option also contains two insulated sections that separate cold items from warm items while maintaining each item’s respective temperatures. Lifewit’s temperature versatility makes it a must-have for every outing.

Honorable Mention
Lifewit Collapsible Cooler Bag

Our second honorable mention goes to the Lifewit Collapsible Cooler Bag. This option measures 14.9 x 8.6 x 11 inch / 38 x 22 x 28 cm (L x W x H), proving to be the perfect travel companion on any outing. It also holds up to 32 cans in addition to ice, allowing for the cooling and maintaining of cold beverages. The Lifewit’s exterior is constructed out of high-density, water-resistant, dirt-proof oxford fabric which makes it durable, waterproof, and easy to clean. It comes equipped with one wide top pocket, two side pockets, and two front pockets that allow for the storage of different items. Lifewit contains a padded handle and a detachable shoulder strap that offers three carrying styles. This option also contains two insulated sections that separate cold items from warm items while maintaining each item’s respective temperatures. Lifewit’s temperature versatility makes it a must-have for every outing.

Honorable Mention

Any cooler bag list wouldn’t be complete without the Coleman Soft Cooler Bag. This option contains a zippered main compartment that can hold up to 30 cans. Coleman maintains ice integrity for up to 24 hours in temperatures as high as 90°F. This option provides a health-conscious feature for those with respiratory concerns. It contains an odor-resistant liner that is treated with antimicrobials to resist odor, mold, and fungus. Coleman contains a top hatch for easy to access contents. This option also contains adjustable shoulder straps for a custom, comfortable fit. This bag comes in handy as a viable option for those that wish to take their lunch to work. Coleman provides another efficient option that solidifies their status as a leader in cooler bag options.

Honorable Mention
Coleman Soft Cooler Bag

Any cooler bag list wouldn’t be complete without the Coleman Soft Cooler Bag. This option contains a zippered main compartment that can hold up to 30 cans. Coleman maintains ice integrity for up to 24 hours in temperatures as high as 90°F. This option provides a health-conscious feature for those with respiratory concerns. It contains an odor-resistant liner that is treated with antimicrobials to resist odor, mold, and fungus. Coleman contains a top hatch for easy to access contents. This option also contains adjustable shoulder straps for a custom, comfortable fit. This bag comes in handy as a viable option for those that wish to take their lunch to work. Coleman provides another efficient option that solidifies their status as a leader in cooler bag options.

Honorable Mention

This cooler from Coleman is perfect for tailgating, picnics, and other outdoor activities. It keeps the food up to 40 degrees colder than the temperature outside. Its 8-foot power cord makes it easier to plug into outlets in your car or boat. The door can open from the left or right side to make it easier to store, giving you more options to use. It is extremely lightweight by itself, so it is easy to haul around. It is about the price you would expect for electric coolers, but it runs on the lower end so it makes it more affordable than competitors. 


You will have to ensure this is plugged in to keep things cool, so if you are looking to be really off grid, then this is not the item for you. It also will not work the best in hotter climates, so taking it to the desert or on a tropical beach isn’t the best idea. It draws power continuously, so it will drain your batteries quickly. Make sure you have charging options to keep a power supply running to it.

Honorable Mention
Coleman PowerChill Hot/Cold Portable Thermoelectric Cooler, 40 Quart

This cooler from Coleman is perfect for tailgating, picnics, and other outdoor activities. It keeps the food up to 40 degrees colder than the temperature outside. Its 8-foot power cord makes it easier to plug into outlets in your car or boat. The door can open from the left or right side to make it easier to store, giving you more options to use. It is extremely lightweight by itself, so it is easy to haul around. It is about the price you would expect for electric coolers, but it runs on the lower end so it makes it more affordable than competitors. 


You will have to ensure this is plugged in to keep things cool, so if you are looking to be really off grid, then this is not the item for you. It also will not work the best in hotter climates, so taking it to the desert or on a tropical beach isn’t the best idea. It draws power continuously, so it will drain your batteries quickly. Make sure you have charging options to keep a power supply running to it.

Honorable Mention

If you are looking to spend a bit more on a high-quality cooler, this iceless chest from Igloo is a great option. It comes in a silver color with a white lid, and it has a large handle for ease of carrying, as well as two side handles. Its dimensions are 12.87 x 16.65 x 18.23 inches. It is made of plastic with a polypropylene liner. Its power cord is 8 feet long, so you should have no trouble reaching your car’s 12V receptacle for power. However, if you are parked, that does drain the battery. It can cool items within up to 36 degrees lower than the surrounding temperature.


While its smaller, compact size makes transportation easy, the downside is that you can’t fit much within it. This is definitely a disappointment given the higher price, but Igloo has designed this as a beverage cooler. It also needs about four hours to cool down the interior from room temperature, so you will need to wait to put your items in. There are also reports of the cord getting quite hot to the touch, so you will want to run it in a place where you are not likely to reach.

Honorable Mention
Igloo Thermoelectric Portable Ice Chest

If you are looking to spend a bit more on a high-quality cooler, this iceless chest from Igloo is a great option. It comes in a silver color with a white lid, and it has a large handle for ease of carrying, as well as two side handles. Its dimensions are 12.87 x 16.65 x 18.23 inches. It is made of plastic with a polypropylene liner. Its power cord is 8 feet long, so you should have no trouble reaching your car’s 12V receptacle for power. However, if you are parked, that does drain the battery. It can cool items within up to 36 degrees lower than the surrounding temperature.


While its smaller, compact size makes transportation easy, the downside is that you can’t fit much within it. This is definitely a disappointment given the higher price, but Igloo has designed this as a beverage cooler. It also needs about four hours to cool down the interior from room temperature, so you will need to wait to put your items in. There are also reports of the cord getting quite hot to the touch, so you will want to run it in a place where you are not likely to reach.

Tips

  • Check the size of the car cooler. Smaller coolers may be designed to hold only a few items. If you want to carry more items on your drive, look for a bigger size.
  • Some car coolers use electrical connections that only keep cool when plugged into a power source. Make sure you have a source for power and a long cord.
  • These types of coolers are not for storing frozen food. You may be able to bring home frozen food from the market, but don’t plan to take any frozen food with you on a long trip.

FAQs

Q: What should I look for in a car cooler? 

Buy a car cooler to fit your driving habits. If you take road trips or spend many hours driving, then consider a larger cooler that will hold more items. 

Q: Why should I buy a car cooler? 

It will help you save money and time and help you eat healthier. You can bring along food and drinks that you like best, so you don’t have to stop to buy items at a convenience store.

Q: What should I pack in a car cooler?

Pack some of your favorite snack items. Bring water, soda, fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, and any other popular food items. Pack food that is easy to eat while driving.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a car cooler, consider the Igloo Iceless Cooler. The handle makes it easy to transport, and it keeps your food cool through its plug-in design.

For a budget-friendly option, try the Arctic Zone Titan Cooler.