Convertibles make everything better right? Not necessarily. Convertibles come with some tradeoffs and aren’t automatically better. Sure you get the wind in your hair, you get the sun on your face and you’re seen by more people, but you’ll have to deal with some serious downsides.
For many these downsides are enough to convince them to opt for a vehicle with a solid, non-retractable roof. For other, less practically minded drivers, top-down driving fun trumps the practical non-moving hard roof any day. Here’re some things to think about when considering a convertible.
Convertibles are More Expensive
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that having a car with no roof costs more. Look at any model that has both a regular version and a convertible version, and you’ll see that the convertible price is higher. Convertibles are a little more difficult to make as rigid and as safe as a version with a regular roof, so naturally, they cost a little more.
Also, it takes quite a bit of equipment to make the top function correctly – especially for hardtop convertibles – so you’ll end up paying more for that as well. Although convertibles are generally more expensive, there are affordable ones out there for around $20,000. The Smart Fortwo Cabriolet starts at $18,900 and if you don’t want something that looks like a stubby French bulldog on wheels, the beautiful Mazda MX-5 Miata starts at $24,915.
Convertibles Have Less Cargo Space
With the top up, convertible cars generally have a decent amount of cargo room. If there's a non-convertible version of the car, the convertible version will usually have about the same amount of room with the top up. Put the top down, however, and the cargo space is considerably diminished, at least in most models.
This is less of an issue with soft top convertibles, but still should be taken into consideration. With hard top models, you’ll be lucky to have much space at all for your bags once the roof disappears. While some hard tops do it better than others, few offer much cargo space once all the hard panels of the roof are hidden away. If you carry a lot of gear, a convertible might not be the way to go.
Convertibles Require More Maintenance
The removable roof of a convertible is just another part of the vehicle that requires regular maintenance. Whether you have a hardtop or a soft top, you’re going to have to make sure it goes up and down correctly, doesn’t leak, and, in the case of a soft top, doesn’t wear out due to exposure to the elements.
The rest of the car will require regular amounts of maintenance, but don’t just think you drop top will never need to be fixed up to stay operational. If you want your roof to function as it should, you need to keep an eye on it and ensure it’s well taken care of.
A good way to make sure your top is well cared for is to have your mechanic look over the top after every few oil changes. Specifically ask your mechanic to do this if you don't want to keep track of it yourself, because the last thing you want is a leaky or non-funtiontioning roof.
Convertibles Aren’t Great for All Types of Weather
A convertible can be a year-round vehicle in certain areas of the country. However, if it’s cold, snowy or rainy all the time, you’ll be better served with a regular roof. Still, hardtop convertibles can eliminate the downside of a soft top convertible while still giving you the opportunity to do some top-down driving when the weather’s nice.
If you keep your car garaged, a soft top convertible can still be a four-season vehicle, as long as you’re willing to let the elements batter your soft roof. If this is the case, and you’re strong enough to brave the elements, you need to pay even more attention to the condition of your soft top, as it will wear out quicker.
Convertibles are the Perfect Car for the Right Person
Convertibles come with some downsides, but if you really want one, you probably don’t care. Go and buy a convertible if you need to feel the wind in your hair. Top-down driving is just more fun. There’s something about the wind and the sound of the exhaust and the sun on your face that makes it hard not so smile.
A convertible instantly makes any car more fun. Ever seen an old Chrysler LeBaron convertible? It’s not a great car, but in convertible form it suddenly becomes tolerable. The fun factor of any automobile is an important thing to consider and is something that’s often thrown aside in favor of practicality. Still, we’d rather give up a little practicality for enjoyment, and that’s exactly what a convertible is all about.
As for if a convertible is worth it, the answer is yes, for the right person. If you’re the kind of person who feels that they want to enjoy life rather than be boring and practical all the time, then a convertible is probably a good car for you. In essence, you pay more for the privilege of being able to put the top down on that perfectly sunny day.