TTAC Commentator furhead writes:
A while back I had written in with a question about which is the best wagon to get. The advice was great, but I didn’t follow any of it. We ended up with a 2005 Camry SE simply because it was too good of a deal to walk away from. The car is fine…and I guess that is the problem. That is all it is: fine. Except for the seats, they suck. The front seats are by far the worst seats that I have ever had to travel in. Any ride longer than 1 hour requires a bottle of Advil nearby in order to make it through.
So now, after living with two children for some time now, my wife and I have a better idea of what we need and don’t need, and we are coming to the realization that we don’t need a car that neither one of us likes and makes our backs hurt on long drives.
We have something bigger and likely always will, which is making us start to wonder: could we make due with a convertible? We would like it (whenever we rent a car, it has no roof). The kids would like it (they always request all the windows and sunroof open). We both really like Saabs and miss my old SPG, which has us looking at 2006 – 2008 9-3s as well as first generation Volvo C70s (the new hard top looks great, but eats too much trunk space). I know there are potentially other options, but seating for four and front wheel drive are necessary as we live in the northeast (AWD options are likely out of our price range of roughly $12-$14k). Comfortable seats is also a high priority as we regularly travel 3 – 4 hours to visit family.
I have a good independent mechanic who specializes in European cars, and we are a three car family, so when the convertible is inevitably in the shop, we won’t be in a bind.
So, is there any chance that I could hear from parents who have a convertible (of any kind) as a daily driver? Are the compromises worth the enjoyment?
Ah yes, beancounted seating was so 10 years ago! Many cars (including the Camry) from this era had pretty horrible seats. Not sure if new Camrys have better seats, but they are better for a few minutes at a time. But from what I’ve seen in new rental cars (Fusion, Avenger, 300 etc) they are light years ahead of previous iterations.
That said, the best seats in modern family cars are certainly in the domain of the Swedes. I am sure 99% of human bodies are supremely comfortable in them.
So anyway…about your Swedish droptop fantasy. Your expectations of the potential SAAB-Volvo are spot on, since this is a third vehicle and you know a good Euro mechanic, buy one with an excellent service history. But only after your mechanic gives it their stamp of approval. If you keep the child seats (assuming your kids are that small) locked in the rear and fill them with kiddos with the top down, this sounds pretty simple. Not having a roof makes it seem easy.
My only concern is safety: do you want to daily drive a vehicle with a flexi-flyer body packed full of kids in bad weather surrounded by SUVs?
Will you hear from parents with a daily driven drop top? Only one way to find out: off you go, Best and Brightest.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.