Hardtop vs Soft-Top Convertible Cars

The comparison below applies to most convertible cars, as well as Jeep.

  • Safety. Hardtops seem to be generally safer than soft-tops in rollover accidents. However, some experts express doubts about that and recommend choosing hardtops with rollover protection systems, which include stability control systems that prevent rollovers, head-protecting side airbags and roll-bars behind the rear seats that automatically deploy, providing headroom for the car occupants if a rollover occurs.
  • Roof material durability. Hardtop convertible cars have a metal roof that folds away. Soft-top convertibles have a roof of fabric or vinyl pulled on metal ribs, which is less durable, may tear.
  • Keeping. Soft-tops should be kept only in a garage or on a covered parking. Hardtops with properly sealed roof can stand any weather conditions.
  • Weather protection: Hardtop convertible cars have better weather protection because of better isolation from outside by the means of the metal roof that seals well. Soft-top convertibles have poor weather protection and temperatures isolation. With time, the soft roof materials tend to wear and tear, literally. In addition, water protecting substance covering the fabric wears off, which means you’d better not get caught in the rain with such a roof if you didn’t reapply the protectant in due time. If it’s cold outside, it will also be cold in a soft-top convertible.
  • Cost. Soft-top convertibles are generally cheaper than hardtop convertible cars because of simpler roof construction.
  • Roof operating method. Soft-top roofs are generally manually folded, hardtop roofs are retracted and pulled on with the help of an electric motor. Although that may cause some inconvenience if you are not quite skilled yet, there is an advantage as compared with hardtop convertible cars: electric roof motors used are heavy. In addition, an electric motor can fail, which will never happen to a manually operated roof.
  • Hardtops have more moving parts and electronic systems which increases the chance of a failure.
  • Noise. Hardtop convertible cars block road noise, soft-top convertibles don’t. However, some hardtop owners complain of rattling roofs, which is not a problem with soft-tops.
  • Luggage space in the trunk remaining after you pull down a hardtop roof is little to none. Soft roofs leave more room for the luggage.
  • A disadvantage of a hardtop as compared with a soft-top in extra-weight in the trunk form the retracted metal roof which increases pressure on rear chassis and affects handling of the car.
  • A very common opinion is that soft-tops look cheap, hardtops look rich.
  • Hardtops will incur higher repair bills
  • Soft-tops are easier to break and steal than hardtops
  • In some states, the registration fee depends on the vehicle’s weight, so hardtops are a bit more costly. However, considering the cost of the hardtop, the registration fee is not a big deal.
  • If a convertible is going to be our only car then soft-tops drop out of the competition.
  • When repair is needed, a soft roof can be detached and you can continue using the car. With the hardtop you’ll have to leave the whole car in the bodyshop.