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Cruising around in a convertible is a dream for many car lovers. They envision happily putting the top down to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the great outdoors, all from inside a stylish and comfortable ride.

With plenty of these luxury vehicles available on the marketplace, from the 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible to the highly-anticipated 2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder, today’s consumers have plenty of options available.

Whether it’s veteran convertible drivers or those who have never owned this model, there’s a number of important items to consider before making this purchase. Without any further adieu, here are five things customers should carefully review before buying this type of vehicle.

1. Soft versus hardtop convertibles

Back in the day, there were fewer hardtop choices compared to soft top models and both types were not without their issues. For example, some soft rooftops were subject to more wear-and-tear from weather. Another issue was noise from a less-than-perfect seal. Retractable or removable hardtops were sometimes heavy and clunky. The hardtops also had problems functioning properly. 

The age of technology has brought about better design and operation of both choices. However, buyers should still consider the pros and cons of both options.

For those who consider the convertible a luxury investment, the hardtop is more aesthetically pleasing when the roof is installed or in the upright position. Fans of the softer option will usually get a break on the sticker-price in comparing the two.

2. MSRP and features

Speaking of price, the Porsche Boxster Spyder, as mentioned previously, comes with a base sticker price of $96,300 and that doesn’t include additional features along with costs uncovered when reading the small print (*taxes, title, registration, delivery fees, additional dealer charges, etc).

However, with this higher sticker-price, drivers can enjoy reaching highway speeds of 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds with a 414 horsepower engine.

For those on a budget who still want to ride in style, there are a number of much less expensive convertibles on the marketplace. Even the eco-friendly and easy-on-the-wallet Smart Car offered an EV Cabrio that came sans roof (the new 2020 model is called the Cabriolet).

Whether consumers are looking at spending five or seven-digits on this ride, be sure to consider the additional costs and features that come (or don’t come) along with this genre of vehicle. 

3. Safety

Similar to motorcycles, open-air vehicles are often thrilling to drive but aren’t necessarily the safest option available. Some convertibles come equipped with either pop-up or fixed roll bars to protect passengers in case of a rollover.

There are models with available airbags that deploy from the seat. These models inflate on the interior sides in the event of a collision to the doors or other parts of the exterior. In higher-priced luxury brands, safety features are usually included, but in lower-cost models, these protective devices are almost always optional.

4. Engine size and fuel economy

There’s a theme starting to emerge here with cost versus concessions. The same is true for engine size compared to fuel economy.

In this case, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Generally speaking, more expensive models will often come equipped with high-performance, turbo-boosted power. This means the larger, more-powerful V8 gas-guzzling engines.

Less expensive models commonly come with either four-cylinder or V6 engines. These almost always get better gas mileage compared to their larger counterparts.

5. Size and seating

As a quick closing note, most convertibles come in two options when it comes to size and seating. For the most part, an often more affordable two-seat roadster will be less expensive overall and will usually get better fuel economy compared to a four-seat luxury model. Also be sure to check the vehicle’s trunk size, as both hard and soft tops will sometimes take up a significant amount of space in this area.