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Which Convertible Is Best: Hardtop or Soft-Top?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

If you're searching for a new convertible, you've likely come across both hardtop and soft-top models. And you've probably realized that most cars offer only one or the other. But which is better? We've provided a few pros and cons to each top style to help you decide.

Hardtop: Pros and Cons

There are a few major benefits to a hardtop. One is security: A hardtop can't be slashed, while a soft-top can. While that may sound unlikely, it's a common way to break in to convertibles -- and the repair is a lot more costly than simply sewing up the hole.

Beyond protection from thieves, a hardtop convertible also protects from weather. Hardtops are more effective at sealing and keeping out moisture, and they're more insulated in cold temperatures. No, a soft-top car won't feel cold once you get the heat going, but those first few minutes can be important.

The downsides? One is that hardtops are typically more expensive -- both to buy and to fix, if something breaks. Also, some drivers don't like hardtops because the car loses its convertible look. For that reason alone, many upscale manufacturers have stuck with soft-tops, even on the most expensive convertibles.

Soft-Top: Pros and Cons

As you may expect from reading above, the soft-top's main benefit is cost: Cars with soft-tops are usually cheaper. Soft-tops also tend to be cheaper to fix, as they don't have as many complicated folding parts as a hardtop. 

Soft-tops also give drivers the "convertible look." The reason is that soft convertible tops usually differ from a car's exterior color, so soft-top convertibles retain the look of a car in which its top goes up and down. Many drivers, especially those paying big money for the convertible instead of the coupe, appreciate that detail.

The soft-top has two downsides: insulation and security. It isn't as insulated as a hardtop, meaning wind noise and cold temperatures are more likely to be an issue. And thieves can always slash open a soft-top -- a problem you won't have with a hardtop. 

Conclusion

Choosing between a hardtop and a soft-top is less important than choosing the right car. Soft-tops and hardtops are fairly similar -- a surprise, considering their vastly different appearance. So whereas a soft-top may be a little colder and a hardtop may cost a little more up front, it's best to pick the car that's right for you rather than turning your back on your dream car because you don't like the roof.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Which Convertible Is Best: Hardtop or Soft-Top?