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Safest Convertibles

Safest ConvertiblesSafest Convertibles

Everyone wants to be safe while cruising with the top down and the wind in their hair. But owning a convertible brings a host of safety issues that other types of cars don’t have.

Crash Test Ratings

In the United States, two organizations rate cars in crash tests: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These agencies use different criteria when rating cars for crashworthiness, but both are well-respected.

The IIHS gives vehicles a score of “Good,” “Acceptable,” “Marginal” or “Poor” in front, rear, side and roof-strength tests. Cars that receive the top score of “Good” in all IIHS crash tests are named Top Safety Picks by the IIHS. However, there aren’t any convertibles that earn this award from the IIHS because roof-strength tests are not typically performed on convertibles.

Unfortunately, the IIHS and NHTSA don’t test all convertibles on the market. Convertibles are often lower-volume cars when compared with their sedan and coupe counterparts. Given limited resources, the safety rating agencies would prefer to crash test a high-volume Infiniti G37 Sedan, for example, than a comparatively low-volume Infiniti G37 Convertible. For this reason, safety ratings are also particularly hard to come by for luxury cars and sports cars.

IIHS: Convertible Crash Test Ratings

 

Front

Side

Rear

Ford Mustang Convertible

G

G

G

Volkswagen Eos

G

G

G

Volvo C70

G

G

G

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

G

G

M

BMW 3-Series Convertible

G

M

P

Jeep Wrangler (2-Door)

G

P

M

G: “Good”; A: “Acceptable”; M: “Marginal”; P: “Poor”

If neither agency has tested the convertible you want, check to see if the car is also made in coupe or sedan body styles. If so, look for safety ratings for the non-convertible model. Convertibles cannot adopt these scores because they have a different body structure, but the results may give you an idea of the base car’s shortcomings. Some insight into a car’s safety is better than none.

High-end sports cars, such as the Porsche Boxster, are rarely tested. In these cases, you’re limited to making an assessment based on the safety features and overall size and weight. Larger vehicles have an advantage over smaller vehicles in a collision.

Safety Features

When you’re evaluating convertibles, there are a number of safety features you should consider. Most convertibles come with standard features that include side and side-curtain airbags, driver and front passenger airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. You may want to add safety tech like a backup camera, parking sensors or a blind-spot monitoring system, though they can be costly. Despite the higher price, these enhanced visibility features are especially helpful on convertibles like the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, which reviewers say has particularly poor outward visibility.

Some convertibles also have roll bars behind the headrests of the driver and front passenger to help protect them in the event of a rollover accident. The Mazda MX-5 Miata has stationary roll bars behind the headrests, while the Volvo C70 has roll bars that automatically pop up if the car senses it’s about to roll over. The C70 also has door-mounted curtain airbags that inflate if the car is in a rollover accident. The Nissan 370Z Roadster is another convertible that has door-mounted curtain airbags that help protect occupants in a rollover crash, as well as roll bars behind the headrests. In the luxury convertible segment, the Porsche Boxster has a two-part rollover system and provides additional airbags to protect the head and chest in a crash.

Unique safety features can be found on some models. For example, the Ford Mustang Convertible comes with MyKey standard. MyKey is a system that allows owners to program a key to limit vehicle speed and stereo volume in order to keep teen drivers safe.

Overall, keep in mind that convertibles offer less protection than other types of cars in an accident. Blind spots, hard-to-use controls and distracting displays can make it difficult to drive safely and avoid accidents. Be sure to pay close attention to each of these during your convertible test drives. With all the safety features and technology currently available on new convertibles, you should be able to find one that you feel safe in.