Dear Car Talk:
My soon-to-be-80-year-old mom is a lifelong convertible driver. She currently drives a 2005 Chrysler Sebring Convertible with 64,000 miles on it. Over the years, the car seems to have gotten lower to the ground, and she’s having difficulty getting into and out of it. For her birthday, I was thinking of replacing her car, and I wanted to get her something a little “taller,” as it were. Of course, it still has to be a convertible — at this stage of the game, she wants what she wants, and she gets what she wants. I looked at a 2016 Buick Cascada, but even the base model comes with all sorts of things she’ll never use, like a navigation system, XM radio, etc. Can you suggest anything that might be a little “simpler” yet still higher off the ground than the Sebring (which leaves out the ubiquitous Ford Mustang convertible) in or around the same price range as the used Cascada? Thanks. Trying to stay in the will. — Rory
Rory, if you were any kind of son at all, you’d go right out and buy your mom a brand-new Bentley Continental GT Convertible. If you go in at the end of the month, when they’re trying to hit their quota, you probably can pick one up for less than $250,000. If she generally likes the Sebring except for the spring-sag, I think you’ve homed in on the right replacement for her in the Cascada. That’s the closest you can get, these days, to the Sebring in terms of design, comfort and handling.
I mean, you can consider a few others. VW makes a Beetle Convertible, and Mini makes a Cooper Convertible. But she might not like the way those look. And if she thinks the Sebring is a good-looking car, I’m guessing she’ll turn her nose up at the VW Beetle or Mini. But you can show them to her. Maybe she’ll love one of them.
Audi makes a very nice A3 convertible, but that’s not going to be in the same price range as the Cascada. Neither is the BMW 4 Series convertible.
And if you get her a low, little sports car like the Mazda Miata, you’ll also have to install a winch in her driveway to lift her into and out of it.
So even though the Cascada has technology she might not use, I think that’s probably your best bet, Rory. All cars have new technology now. Some of it (the safety stuff) is wonderful and doesn’t require her to do much to use it — she just has to know what the warning lights or sounds mean. The rest, she can ignore. If she doesn’t want to listen to satellite radio, then she doesn’t have to subscribe. If she doesn’t want to use the navigation, she can just drive around and get lost, like she does now.
As long as she can get comfortable using the basic functions of the car — starting it, changing gears, steering, stopping and turning on the windshield wipers in case it starts to rain when she’s on her way home from the early bird special — she should be very happy in the Cascada, Rory. I hope so.
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