I’m 65 and financially very comfortable. Tall, looking for a near luxury hardtop convertible with room for a dog and golf clubs. Would consider preowned. $60,000 is my upper limit. Is there anything out there that you could recommend? – Kevin
Richardson: Well, there aren’t that many hardtop convertibles with room for a dog and clubs. Kevin will need a two-row car, since it’s dangerous to carry a dog on the front seat. If there’s even a small collision, the dog will be killed by the passenger air bag.
Gentile: A two-row convertible is the sensible way to go. When it comes to Fido, it’s also dangerous to have him loose in the backseat or even sitting on someone’s lap. It’s important to use a pet harness safety system to keep Fido securely in place and protect him in case of an accident. And not all pet harness-safety systems are created equally.
Richardson: Especially so if the roof is down. Even a complacent dog can be startled by something outside the car, and must always be restrained to within the cabin.
Gentile: And please – just close the window. Dogs like to hang their heads into the wind, but the dust and dirt will injure their eyes.
Richardson: Let’s not even start on the drivers who let their little dogs sit on their laps behind the wheel. I once rode my motorcycle up to a red light and alongside a van with an open window, and the driver’s little dog jumped up against the window to bark at me. It fell right through and was almost throttled by its leash. Anyway – none of this is helping Kevin find a car.
Gentile: Right. There aren’t many two-row hardtop convertibles, though.
Richardson: I can only think of one: the BMW 4-Series. There are plenty of them parked at golf clubs around the world.
Gentile: Not only is the 4-Series a looker, it’s also a dream to drive, but it is slightly over his price range. The base model starts around $63,000 without freight and PDI. And a few extras and he’ll go north of $70,000 fast. But maybe a used 4-Series cab could do the trick?
Richardson: It’s been around for a few years now, so Kevin should find a gently used, very clean Bimmer for well within his range. He should look for a car with an existing and transferrable extended warranty, however – when BMWs break, they can get expensive very quickly.
Gentile: You’re right. But that’s the case with most German brands. Another convertible Kevin should consider is the Audi A5. It’s competitively priced with the Bimmer 4-Series – it starts around $63,000. But he’d be better off getting his hands on a gently used one.
Richardson: Audis tend to hold up better over time than BMWs, but that’s a generalization. Again, though, with all the German cars, if there’s a transferrable extended warranty, it will be worth the peace of mind.
Gentile: Of course, the A5 isn’t a hardtop convertible, but soft tops aren’t what they used to be.
Richardson: They’re much quieter and more secure than the old days, and they’re not usually as expensive. The fabric isn’t your common-or-garden canvas any more. Hardtops are tough to engineer in a size large enough for two rows. The different panels have to be sealed together, and those seals break down and can leak.
Gentile: Mercedes makes its two-seater SLC Roadster as a hard-top, but the larger C-Class is a soft-top, for all those reasons.
Richardson: So unless Kevin leaves the dog at home, or doesn’t care about its safety, or is content with a well-engineered soft roof, his only real choice is the BMW. But that’s not a bad choice at all.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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