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Buying a Convertible: Softtop or Hardtop?

Four Reasons to Buy a Softtop over a Hardtop and Four Reasons Not to

Four Reasons to Buy a Softtop over a Hardtop and Four Reasons Not to

I know firsthand how difficult it can be to choose the right used or new convertible. Chances are your process started by considering one of the most important drop-top purchasing factors: hardtop or softtop? Both models have their pros and cons though, in my case, I picked a softtop with a removable hardtop. From price and cargo space to maintenance costs and how quick that top drops, there are plenty of things to consider when purchasing a convertible. Here are four reasons to go with a softtop over a hardtop and four reasons why that hardtop may be worth a few extra dollars.

Go Soft Top

Space

When it comes to cargo space in a convertible, every cubic inch is precious. With a softtop, you’ll get more room. Hardtops fold into the trunk to be stored, often taking up more space than would a soft top.

Weight Savings

Because a soft top consists of fabric and, depending on the age of the convertible you’re considering, either a plastic or glass rear window, it offers decent weight savings when compared to the much heftier hardtops. Without the added weight of a hard top, the convertible’s trunk doesn’t get loaded down and, overall, a hard top can weigh 100 pounds (45 kg) or more compared to a similar soft top.

Up/Down Speed

Softtops don’t take lots of time to put up or down, but the process can take longer in a hardtop. Plus, most softtops can be operated at slightly higher speeds than hardtops.

Price

Because a hardtop features more mechanical and electrical components, the price will often be higher, depending on the model. Also, when it’s time to replace or repair your top, the soft top could save you money, with potentially cheaper parts and fewer things that can go wrong.

Go Hardtop

Crash Safety

Nobody wants to think about getting into an accident, but it might happen. Especially if your search involves older models, having a solid roof over your head could be a safer choice. Yes, both models may feature roll bars behind the front passenger seats, but that added level of security and safety can’t hurt.

Noise/Weather Insulation

Hardtops, thanks to their conventional roof-like practicality, offer better insulation against the elements. But weather isn’t the only thing that a new or used hardtop sometimes insulate against; road noise might be significantly reduced, too.

Theft-deterrent

The standard hardtop rear window is always glass, which can help prevent against theft. An older softtop with a plastic rear window is more likely to be stolen or vandalized, as that window can be slashed easily with a knife. Although newer models may be somewhat better protected, canvas or vinyl tops can also be sliced open, something I once experienced firsthand.

Top Replacement

As soft tops go, older models with plastic rear windows can get sun damage or crack, , and may need to be replaced at least once over the vehicle’s lifetime. Also, on older models at highway speeds, soft tops can tear, and replacing one can be rather tedious when installing it yourself, something I discovered over two days when I once replaced a vinyl top and plastic window on a soft top with a vinyl top and a glass window.

What do you think? Would you take the coupe-like appeal of a hardtop or the more simple nature of a softtop?