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Friday, September 19, 2014

5 ways to better enjoy a convertible in the fall

 

ConsumerReports.org
                    
            
 
 
 
 
The days may be getting shorter, and fall is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your convertible top up until spring. Sure, a Sunday morning drive is a bit chillier compared with going out in August, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy open-top driving well into the fall months. Here are just a few features from automakers that allow you to enjoy convertibles in colder temperatures.

Mazda Miata’s Extra Fan Direction


Few automakers have a handle on the roadster concept as Mazda does with the Miata. As we've said in our road test, it is "hard to find a car more agile and fun to drive" then the Miata, and through the years, Mazda has learned quite a few lessons about daily driving a roadster.

 Where most cars have three climate control directions (defrost, head, and feet), the Miata has a fourth, directed at the occupant’s midsection and upper legs.

 As wind from the road can make a mockery of the climate control, the added direction provides more uniform comfort for the driver and passenger in any climate.

We also like to remind drivers that if they are switching between summer tires and all-seasons, the next few weeks would be the ideal time.


 
Mercedes-Benz Airscarf

So Mazda keeps your thighs toasty on a weekend drive through windy roads, but what about your head? There are differing opinions as to how much heat we lose through our heads, but if cold air from the road is constantly buffeting your upper body, it can be quite uncomfortable.

 Mercedes-Benz was one of the first to offer a neck warmer, which pumps warm air through a vent in the head restraint, as an option. Its version of the system is called Airscarf but other automakers, such as BMW and Bentley, have similar systems.

Heated Seats/Steering Wheel

This feature is kind of a no-brainer, and thankfully is available on many new cars. The benefits of a heated seat when driving with the top down in fall are pretty self-evident, but the heated steering wheel takes cold-air convertible comfort to a new level. In addition to keeping your hands warm, you don’t have to make the drastic jump to wearing gloves while driving.

Small Convertibles with Smart Features

The Mini Cooper Convertible and Fiat 500C are nimble, plucky runabout drop tops, but they offer more than just impressive city parking capabilities. In our road test, we praised the Mini for its "go-kart-like handling," while the Fiat felt lively around our track and sprightly in the corners.

 Each car has a different take on allowing for the sun to beat down on you while gusts from the road stay out. The Cooper Convertible has a unique sunroof function in which only the front third of the cloth top retracts. The 500C features a tonneau-style cloth top of which a narrower slice of the roof and the rear window retract, allowing coupelike protection from the elements everywhere else. Think of it as a giant, soft sunroof.

Jeep Wrangler 
The Jeep Wrangler has proven to be an all-weather, all-condition vehicle that is as capable as it is fun. With a removable roof and four-wheel drive, it is perfect for summer and winter. So why not the spring and fall?

 It's simple enough to lower the cloth top, but that can let in a lot of cold air. Jeep offers the Sunrider Top ($400 option), which it calls a "sunroof for a soft top."

There is also the Freedom Top ($995 option), which is a three-piece hard top that offers multiple configurations, including the ability to individually remove panels directly above the driver or front passenger. That keeps in some warmth, while allowing an open-air feel.