It’s no secret convertible cars have been a popular trend lately and nowadays they are on the edge of glory. Since hardtop and soft-top cars are extremely widely-used common convertible modifications on the market right now. If you are not sure about choosing one or the other, this post is a detailed guide that’ll compare both options and will make it easier for you to decide which one fits your needs.
If you already own a vehicle with a soft top, you might be wondering how often you should change the top and what the most secure and comfortable models are. For you, we have a review of the best models you can find online.
Let’s dive right into it.
Hardtop vs Soft top – The Difference
To understand which one is a fit for your convertible, you need to have a clear distinction of hard and soft car top.
A hardtop is a fully rigid metal car roof. A hardtop can be detachable or retractable, although in most vehicles it’s completely not removable.
A soft top for convertible cars is a roof you can fold or remove. This modification is not as safe or sturdy as a hardtop is – on the other hand, it’s easier to maintain and considerably cheaper to replace.
There isn’t a clear distinction as to which roof modification is better – both come with advantages and drawbacks.
Benefits of Hardtops
- Security. If you choose a hardtop for a convertible car, the risk of someone making their way inside is low. In case you’re worried about the safety of your vehicle, choosing this roof modification will give you more confidence and peace of mind.
- Higher bad weather protection and improved insulation. A hardtop is a win-win choice for continental, rapidly changing climates as they protect the car from strong winds and heavy snows much better than soft tops do.
- Improved durability. Since hardtop cars are vinyl-and-perspex-made, they are not as likely to wear out as is the case for softer tops, made from glass or steel.
- Exterior. Putting a soft top on a car does not add aesthetics points to the convertible. From a stylistic point of view, hardtop cars are more stylish and presentable, both with the lid off and on.
Drawbacks of Hardtops
- Cost. High-quality hardtops are not the cheapest option on the market – and the bad ones will create loads of trouble for your car – they will glitch, not remove properly, and suffer in terms of durability.
- Weight. Being too heavyweight is a common issue for hard car tops. Thus, the modification is challenging to store since it gobbles a ton of square meters to fit in.
- Tricky to detach and reattach. If you’re new to convertibles, you might struggle with removing and reattaching the lid from the car.
Benefits of Soft Tops
- Higher ergonomic efficiency. Soft car tops don’t take up much trunk space for storage. Thus, you won’t have to worry about fitting in the luggage in the trunk. Being able to fold the cover frees up space to fit more stuff in – you don’t get this kind of flexibility with hardtop cars.
- More light inside the vehicle. Being able to see the sun and the sky is one of the main benefits convertible cars offer. A soft top is a sold way to reap the benefits of getting a convertible vehicle without having to remove the top altogether. The driving experience is tenfold more pleasant when there’s a view of the sky and the sunlight above – for that reason, a soft top is a solid choice for families with kids.
- Lightweight and fuel-efficient. Since soft-top convertibles don’t make a vehicle too heavy, the car feels much easier to drive. Also, although there’s no conclusive evidence, a common point in favor of soft-top covers drivers usually make is that it helps reduce fuel consumption, cutting vehicle maintenance costs.
Drawbacks of Soft Tops
Although they are good-looking, easy in terms of maintenance, and considerably cheaper than their counterparts, soft tops come with two major drawbacks. The first one is security. No matter how you look at it, less effort is needed to cut through the soft rooftop as opposed to a hard one, made from metal.
Experienced drivers suggest getting a soft top in case you don’t have to park your vehicle outside or have video surveillance or an alert system in case someone tries to make his way into the vehicle.
The second major drawback soft top owners have to put up with is insulation. The roof will not provide you as much protection from climate changes and snow as a hardtop cover would. A soft top is a solid choice in moderate or warm climates – think LA but not the best one in mountain zones or northern countries like Canada.
When you choose a top for your vehicle, be sure to evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of each modification. If you’re a new convertible owner, trying a cheaper soft top first will be a reasonable idea. Then, if you are not satisfied with it, you can always switch to more durable and expensive hardtop covers.
Soft-Top Cars Maintenance Tips
To make sure you make the most out of your car’s soft top, pay attention to maintenance. Taking daily care of the cover is a way to ensure it serves you for years to come and look aesthetically pleasing to others.
To start with, do some research on the materials your soft top is made of. Polyacrylic or polyester canvas are the most common options manufacturing companies use for soft tops. Remember that they are not fully waterproof and don’t use too much water when taking care of the car top.
Avoid using household chemicals for car top cleaning. Also, keep in mind it’s better not to use chemical detergents, any alcohol-containing liquids, or vinegar for maintenance.
These solutions will either deteriorate or dry the fabric. Instead, get a specialized solution for soft-top cleaning. Even though such liquids are typically more expensive, getting them for your household is a must-have.
Top Soft Tops For a Convertible Car: Review
If you settle the convertible tops in favor of a soft-top alternative, choosing the right cover for your car is the decisive step. There are a lot of modifications on the market – some are universal, others fit most vehicles well.
For a tighter and more custom fit, consider making a vehicle-specific soft-top choice. In this post, we are going to review seven best soft-top alternatives for Jeep that have been popular all over the web to help you make the best buying decision.
1. PAVEMENT ENDS by Bestop For 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler
This cover is large enough to fully cover the windows of the vehicle. The unit takes little storage space and is a solid choice for small cars that fall short in terms of trunk space.
The Pavement Ends soft-top is made from vinyl – thus, it’s more durable than a polyester-based model, water-resistant, and good-looking. The seller offers car owners a warranty for testing the model out for one year and returning it in case it didn’t last past that time.
Unfortunately, the model does not fit Jeep Unlimited – if you own one of these models, look for a different soft top.
|• A low-cost modification|
• Easy installation process
• Fits the top well
|• Zippers are glitchy|
• Visible factory defects
• Struggles to fully cover the rear windows
2. BESTOP NX Black Twill For 2007-2018 Wrangler
This Wrangler soft-top is known for the durable twill fabric. The model does a solid job of covering car windows with a 40-millimeter thick layer of vinyl. While it’s not the highest-level protection, this cover helps to ensure car safety.
BesTop NX Black Twill is relatively easy to install thanks to a couple of customized features, such as the Sunrider open-driving modification. The coverlets a fair share of sunlight in and brings more joy to the driving experience.
The online driving community has been repeatedly praising this model for durability zippers with self-correction.
|• The top folds down well|
• The cover is a tight fit for Wranglers
• Durable material
|• Ambiguous installation instructions|
• Needs to be loosened up during hotter days
• Low bad-weather resistance
3. BESTOP Black Diamond Trektop
This model schools all others in terms of convenience and installation simplicity. After giving the soft top for a while, drivers don’t fail to remark its ease of use and thought-out design. It takes little-to-no storage space, covers the car windows impressively well.
The bad news is, you will need additional hardware to mount the top to the vehicle. All the hardware needed for installation is included in the package. Also, before you choose the model, keep in mind that it only fits 2007-2017 Wranglers – the four-doored ones in particular.
|• Easy and quick folding|
• High insulation
• Durable material
|• Heats quickly|
• The cover for the rear windows
is easy to scratch
• No way to install the cover without additional
4. PAVEMENT ENDS Black Diamond Bestop
This top is another cost-efficient yet sturdy option Jeep drivers should consider. Although it’s safe to say the model is not the best work Bestop has put out so far, its general durability and sturdiness are quite above average.
The model is relatively easy to install. According to online reviews, it takes car owners around an hour to set the soft top up, as opposed to 4 hours as an average amount of time it takes to install a convertible cover.
This unit has a one-year warranty. The model fits only Unlimited models.
|• High insulation;|
• Quick installation
|• Convoluted user manual;|
• Has branding elements that take away from the overall look and feel of the car;
• Needs a couple of hours in the sun to stretch
5. SPIDERWEBSHADE Jeep Sunshade
This sunshade is a cover that doesn’t let the sun into the vehicle. Although it does not increase the enjoyment of open-air driving, car owners can block out harmful UV lights and ensure they don’t harm their loved ones.
The model resists well to bad weather. You will be able to go through relatively heavy snows and rainstorms without damaging the cover. The model is a tight fit for any 2007-2018 Wrangler.
The manufacturer matched the color of the hade to the most popular colors of Wrangler models so that car owners can enjoy a stylish look of the vehicle.
|• Solid sun, bad weather, and wind coverage;|
• A thick protective layer that increase the security of car windows;
• Gives a clear view through the top to see outside of the car clearly
|• Too tight|
• Having to remove it to put a hardtop back on
• No installation tutorials or user manuals
6. SMITTYBILT Black Diamond Replacement Top
This cover is known for a durable tight seal that protects the inside of the vehicle from snow or rain. The soft top is made from vinyl, is relatively straightforward in terms of maintenance and lasts well. The fabric fits dimensions of the vehicle like a glove and doesn’t stretch over time – a car owner can be confident that there will be no loss of durability or water-resistance as time goes by.
There are skins for doors, front, and rear windows that can be either tightened or loosened depending on how much ventilation a car owner wants to have inside the vehicle. Altogether, Jeep drivers have nothing but praise for the quality of zippers.
|• Made from DOT materials|
• Sits tight on the top, the doors,
and the windows
• Smoothly running zippers
|• Lack of clear installation instructions|
• The protection layer for rear windows is a little too thin
• No installation hardware in the package
7. SIERRA OFFROAD Jeep Wrangler Top
This top is well-known for long-lasting materials – the manufacturer used a thick and sturdy vinyl to protect the car from intrusion, increase insulation, and improve the durability of the cover.
The seller offers car owners an extensive warranty – you can test te cover out for three years and ensure you’re fully satisfied with it before committing to the product once and for all. Sierra Offroad is well-designed from the aesthetic point of view.
The designer of the model paid attention to the smallest details – for instance, the shade of the sewing thread is purely identical to the color of the fabric.
|• Anti-leak protection|
• 3-year warranty
• All zippers are self-correcting
|• Lightweight compared to OEM|
• Doesn’t cover the passenger-side windows smoothly
• Has a lighter liquid stench for a couple of days
Do soft tops let water in?
No, most models are not fully waterproof. However, most of them are water-resistant which means they absorb the smallest amount of liquid, don’t stretch, and dry quickly.
How often should I replace a car top?
As a rule of thumb, a single car top can equal 3-4 years. However, it’s more common among vehicle owners to change the cover at least two-three times throughout the car’s entire life span.
How do I choose a car top?
At first, decide if you prefer a hard or a soft top. Also, make sure to choose vehicle-specific models to increase the odds of getting a tight fit.
What are the tips about soft top maintenance?
Regular cleaning is essential for a stylish look and durability of a car top. Having said that, be sure to not apply detergents, bleach, ammonia, or alcohol and switch to specialized solutions instead.
How do I know if a car-top is good?
Check out online reviews or go to your local car tore to see a similar model to the one you want to order online. Also, choosing a seller who offers a return guarantee is a safer, risk-free way to end up with a satisfying purchase.
What are the most common car soft top materials?
Polyvinyl chloride, polyester canvas, and fabric – cotton and other types, are the most common materials manufacturers use to design soft tops.
Choosing a soft top for a car is a challenging task since you have to customize the cover to your vehicle. The good news is, as soon as you take the time to research the market, finding a fit should not take too much time. We hope that the review of the seven alternatives that are commonly used by Jeep drivers was helpful in making the right purchasing decision.