Five-seater convertibles are extremely rare because the body and chassis design of a convertible make it so. The rear seating area is usually narrower in any type of convertible because it has to be that way in order for the roof to close properly.
Furthermore, convertible cars also have reinforced sidewalls that also narrow down the rear passenger department in order to reach a specific level of structural integrity. Besides thicker and stronger sidewalls, convertibles are often equipped with a central beam that goes between the seats which also reinforces the body.
All of this means that it takes considerable adjustments to make a 5-seater convertible which means that there are no new 5-seat convertibles on the market besides the Jeep Wrangler. If you are willing to buy a used 5-seater convertible, check out the 2007 Audi A4 convertible or the 2008 Chrysler Sebring.
Another reason why there are no 5-seater convertibles is that not enough people are interested in buying them. If there is no market large enough for a certain item, the item itself usually perishes after a while, and that was the case with 5-seater convertibles.
Structural compromises of a convertible
It may seem easy to make a convertible from a regular hardtop variant at a first glance, but it’s way more complicated than just cutting the roof off and making it look nice. Many aspects need to be carefully addressed before a certain convertible is ready for the opened road.
To make a convertible, you first need to cut the roof of which in itself does not seem like a difficult task, but after you do that, you need to make sure that the chassis of the car is strong enough to endure everyday micro flexing. This is rather difficult to do without adding too much weight or decreasing the practicality too much.
Because there is no roof, the structural integrity is severely compromised and it means that many reinforcements are needed to make the chassis more rigid. Most manufacturers tend to do so by adding steel onto the door seals and by making the central section of the car beefier than before.
2/4/5-seater convertibles – Which ones to go for and why
Between these three types of convertibles, a 2-seater convertible is the most popular option, and that’s why there are so many 2-seater convertibles out there. 4-seater convertibles are popular enough, but the market demand for a 4-seater convertible is way smaller than it is for a 2-seater convertible.
That being said, there is almost no demand for a 5-seater convertible, plus it’s harder to make a 5-seater convertible anyway. Even most 4-seater convertibles are extremely cramped in the rear passenger department because the rear bench is way narrower than it usually is with a hardtop.
That being said, a 2-seater convertible is usually a sportier option which should cater mostly towards drivers who want performance and handling. A 4-seater convertible is usually designed to be comfortable and relaxing which would also be the primary objective for a 5-seater if it existed.
That being said, another reason why 5-seater convertibles don’t exist is that 4-seater convertibles do, and the difference between these two is way too small to create a separate 5-seater convertible market.
5-seater convertibles – A dying breed
A few decades ago, there were many 5-seater convertibles on the market because car safety regulation was a bit of a joke back then. Cars like the 1972 Ford LTD convertible were extremely famous, but they were also extremely massive and unsafe compared to even cars from the 80s and the 90s.
That being said, the only relatively modern convertible car that still offers 5 seats is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited because it’s built on a separate chassis. This is extremely rare these days as most cars are using a so-called monocoque design that integrates the body and the chassis during production.
The Wrangler Convertible can comfortably seat 5, but it’s not made for everyone. Furthermore, the closest thing to a real 5-seater convertible these days is the 2007 Audi A4 convertible or the 2008 Chrysler Sebring Convertible, but both of these are way too old for most people.
Are convertibles worth it?
It’s a matter of personal perspective, but objectively speaking, most convertibles are way too compromised to be suitable for everyone. They are lacking when it comes to interior foot space for both the front and the rear passengers. Furthermore, they suffer from inferior levels of headroom as well, so much so that it sometimes makes the rear seats unusable.
They are heavier which does not benefit fuel efficiency nor aerodynamics, and they often rob you of the cargo space when the roof is down because the roof mechanism is usually stored in the trunk space. Moreover, they are not as structurally sound which means that they are not as agile as their hardtop counterparts.
Are soft-top convertibles better than hardtops?
It depends on the car in question, but most cars are better off with a decent soft top because it makes more sense. On the one hand, super sports cars like the McLaren 720S Spyder use a hardtop mechanism which better isolates the driver even though it does weigh more.
However, the 720S Spyder does not add more weight through chassis strengthening because the chassis is made from carbon fiber which makes it way stronger than regular steel chassis and thus justifies the decision. On the other hand, almost all “regular” cars these days are moving towards soft tops because they make more sense overall.
Are coupes better than convertibles?
If you value performance, handling, and a thrilling drive, it’s better to opt for a coupe variant as it’s usually way more agile, lightweight and it looks nicer and more aerodynamic. On the other hand, a convertible is mostly tailored for those who enjoy the process of motoring and are not in such a big rush.
That being said, there are a couple of convertibles there that manage to combine the thrills of a coupe, and the specialness of a convertible, but these are rather rare and expensive.