• Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless

These are the finest and quirkiest production SUVs that aimed at stealing the thunder from conventional convertibles

SUVs have had a rich yet troubled history when it comes to confining to a single shape or form. It is a pretty common sight to see people driving around in "coupe SUVs" these days and petrol heads forbidding their existence. But Coupe SUVs are nothing in comparison to the five convertible SUVs that we have lined up for you. And before you ask, no we aren’t talking about one-off models and custom rat rods, this list is solely comprised of production SUVs that anyone could have brought straight from their nearest dealership.

VW T-Roc Cabriolet - Golf Cabrio’s unloved cousin

2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet Exterior
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The VW T-Roc is a sensible four-door compact crossover that promises to offer an economical and practical means of transport, in a good-looking and well-equipped package. But when VW decided to remove two of its doors and chop off its roof, it left people across the globe scratching their heads in confusion. The T-Roc Cabrio was an attempt to bridge the gap created by the highly successful Golf Cabriolet, and today it is also the only Convertible sold by Volkswagen. This car then is a classic case of boardroom meetings and graphs dictating what a car should be rather than giving designers and engineers a free rein on the execution. It’s still a practical crossover but with a fold-away roof, so now it appeals to not only the young and hip demographic but also old people who want something small, maneuverable, and easy to get in and out of that still lets them enjoy drop-top motoring.

2020 Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet Exterior
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Powering this unique vehicle is either a 1.0-liter or a 1.5-liter TSI engine that sends power exclusively to the front wheels, and it’s even offered with a manual to appeal to the enthusiast crowd. Well as ironic as that sounds, it is a very logical decision to replace the golf cabriolet with a crossover cabriolet since crossovers are one of the highest-selling vehicle segments globally. The problem is that not as sharp as a hatchback like the golf, and it comes with all the compromises of a hatchback like the lack of rigidity, the impossibly small boot, and rear seats that are barely big enough for a 10-year old. So Volkswagen, just one question for you, is it really the wise man’s Golf Cabriolet?

Read our full review on the VW T-Roc Cabriolet

Mercedes G500 Cabriolet - The Trend Setter

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless
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Mercedes was one of the earliest adopters of this questionable drop-top SUV design, and it decided to do it with one of their most controversial and well-renowned SUVs, the legendary G-Wagon. The G-Wagon brand is without a doubt one of the most successful attempts by an automaker at recreating a neo-retro product and, as a result, Mercedes charges a hearty premium with prices starting at over $100K. But this pop culture icon has generated so much hype over the years that Mercedes has taken bold moves and made some seriously questionable yet over the top versions and special editions like the G63 AMG 6x6 and the G 650 Landaulet but the car in question today is the G-500 Cabriolet which is a short wheelbase, 2-door convertible version of the regular G-Wagon that costs around $200K in the U.S.

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless
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And unlike the G 650 Landaulet, which was inspired by the Maybach 62 Landaulet and was limited to 99 units with a seven-digit price tag, the G-500 Cabriolet was a regular version in mass production that went out of production in 2013, but it was never officially sold in the United States. This is why anybody who seeks to own these has to get them "federalized" to meet U.S. government regulations before they can be legally imported into the United States under the 25-year law. It was powered by a 5.0-liter M113 naturally aspirated V-8 that made 292 horsepower and 336 pound-feet of torque. These SUVs used to cost around €95,000 when new which is equal to $110,000, but the whole import and federalization process would bump the price up to $200,000 and as a result, these quirky convertibles have now turned into gold mines that have held their values incredibly well over the years.

Toyota RAV4 Convertible - Riding the first wave

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless
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Toyota’s first RAV4 was a stroke of brilliance. It was arguably one of the first and the most popular compact SUVs that practically proved the feasibility of the compact crossover segment. So back in 1996, the RAV4 was trying to mimic regular SUVs like the Jeep Wranglers and Suzuki Sidekick for a familiar design that most people would find acceptable. So it was only logical to make a soft-top version since both these aforementioned SUVs offered a soft top. So in 1998, Toyota introduced the RAV-4 convertible, featuring a manual soft top design and it did not look out of place since it was a boxy 2-door convertible, a tried and tested formula. It was powered by a 2.0-liter Inline-four that made a modest 126 horsepower and power was sent exclusively to the front wheels.

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless
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But surprisingly for Toyota, it did not sell well and as well as the brand had hoped, which could have been due to the lack of a 4x4 system. Toyota ended up pulling the plug on the RAV-4 convertible in 1999 right before the first facelift in 2000. Toyota even killed the two-door RAV-4 in the states and with the arrival of the 21st century, the RAV4 was only offered as a sensible four-door in the states while the rest of the world continued to get the two-door version. Now the RAV4 convertible is a cool artifact and the rarity means it will become a future collectible.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible - The Stylist

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible High Resolution Exterior
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The Evoque is regarded as one of the best-looking SUVs of all time, so it came as no surprise when JLR decided to launch this baby Range in a two-door coupe as well as a Cabriolet. Produced between 2017 and 2018, it was offered with either a 2.2-liter diesel engine in two states of tune or a 2.0-liter turbocharged petrol engine. The diesel versions made between 150 and 190 horsepower while the gas-powered 2.0-liter turbo is our recommended pick of the bunch thanks to the 240 horsepower on tap and all the refinement you need from a luxury drop-top SUV.

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless High Resolution Exterior
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According to Land Rover design chief, Gerry McGovern, it was the world’s first luxury SUV convertible and we do believe him. The drop-top styling was elegantly executed and it did not look out of place. The drawbacks however came in terms of space in an SUV that was small and impractical to begin with. Apart from the convertible roof eating into the boot space, the Evoque Cabriolet had next to no headroom for the rear seat occupants with the roof up. Space and practicality are factors that appeal to most SUV buyers, but the Evoque did not have either and the $52,000 base price meant it was a full $11,000 more than the base Evoque and at that price point it competed with some serious competition such as the C-Class Cabriolet and the 4-series convertible. As a result, the Evoque Convertible was never a sales success, and it was pulled out of production in 2018 after just a single year in production. But if you don’t care about practicality and want a fun and quirky drop-top, capable of treading off-road, a used one of these might be a very good option.

Read our full review on the Range Rover Evoque Convertible

Nissan Murano Cabriolet - The unloved child

2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet High Resolution Exterior
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It is safe to say that Nissan’s history with crossovers has been somewhat questionable. First, there was the unanimously hated Nissan Juke, and then came the Nissan Murano Cabriolet. Nissan unveiled the Murano Cabriolet at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2010. At the time of launch, Nissan officials insisted that it offers room for four adults, space for golf bags or luggage (even with the top down), and a "premium level interior". Well, it’s safe to say that they were partially right and it was one of the roomiest cabriolets but seating four full-sized adults was still tight.

Drop Top Utility: SUVs That Skipped Utility to go Topless High Resolution Exterior
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However, the biggest problem with this crossover cabriolet was that it looked anything but sensible. Nissan went ahead and converted their four-door crossover into a two-door convertible but the Murano wasn’t a very pretty car to begin with. Roof up or down, the Murano just didn’t look natural and to add to that it was still a two-wheel-drive crossover powered by the same tried and tested 3.5-liter V-6 with 265 horsepower -undeniably the car’s best feature. So, unlike a G-class cabriolet or a Suzuki X-90, the crossover body style didn’t add to the go-anywhere capability for owners to forgive its compromised looks. With a starting price just shy of $48,000, the Murano never managed to sell in profitable numbers and as a result, it was killed in 2015 after a four-year production run, making it a truly rare and odd artifact in the world of drop-top motoring.

Read our full review on the Nissan Murano Cabriolet

Bhavik Sreenath
Bhavik Sreenath
A keen automotive enthusiast with a love for anything with engines. He loves discovering the world of cars and technology to explore new boundaries in the field of modern-day journalism.  Read full bio
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