Jeep Hardtop vs Soft Top

Jeep Hardtop vs Soft Top

Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Alison Smith

Thinking about buying a Jeep Wrangler but don't know whether you should get a hardtop or a soft top? One of the great things about Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators is their ability to wear many tops. Even if you're planning to go topless most of the time, you'll be grateful for any type of cover during a sudden storm. Here are the pros and cons of having a Jeep hardtop vs a soft top.

Jeep Hardtops

Pros: Sturdy, protective, secure, quieter

Hardtops are easily the most durable of the Jeep Wrangler tops. Since they are solid and stronger than soft tops, they will typically last longer. Hardtop Jeep Wranglers and Gladiators can also provide more insulation, shielding you from the chilly winter wind or the hot summer sun. This also allows for a quieter ride compared to a soft-top Jeep, which would typically be louder. With a hardtop, you also have the option to install a roof rack so you can carry all your outdoor, off-roading necessities. Hardtops offer more protection and security for your personal belongings versus soft tops.

When it comes to Jeep hardtops vs soft tops, it’s important to consider the purpose of your Jeep Wrangler. Is your Wrangler for everyday commuting or off-roading expeditions? For everyday commuting, perhaps a hardtop is a better option than a soft top as it provides better security, protection, and a more comfortable ride.

Cons: Difficult to remove, requires storage

Hardtops aren’t without their downfalls, though. You will need someone to help you remove the hardtop as it is at least a two-person job, and removing the hardtop is easier than putting it back on, which will probably take longer. This might deter you from wanting to take off the top when it’s nice outside and will make it difficult to switch back and forth. While hardtops will usually last longer than soft tops, they are more expensive to replace in the event that you would need to buy a new hardtop. Since hardtops don’t fold down like soft tops, you will have to find a place to store them when your Jeep is topless.

Hardtop Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Soft Tops

Pros: Easily removable, portable, versatile

While Jeep Wrangler hardtops may offer more protection in comparison to soft tops, soft tops offer more versatility. Soft tops are easily removable due to their lighter weight, which is extremely helpful when you need to put your top back on quickly. Soft tops are foldable, so you can store them right in your Jeep Wrangler for easy access. If you're off-roading with the top off and suddenly a thunderstorm rolls through, a soft top will allow you to swiftly put the top back on and save your seats from getting soaked. For the off-roading Jeep Wrangler owners, soft tops are perfect for all your outdoor activities while still offering a way to cover up when needed.

Cons: Little protection, louder

So while the Jeep Wrangler soft top offers more accessibility than the hardtop, there are also some negatives to consider. Due to the lack of durability, soft tops will need replacing more often than hard tops. However, soft tops are significantly cheaper than hard tops, which balances it out. Since soft tops are more flexible, they are also less insulated. Not only will cold air seep through the soft top in the winter, but heavy snow can also weigh it down. Because of the lack of insulation, soft tops are also louder than the hardtops. This might be more of a consideration if you're commuting long distances every day. With a Jeep soft top, not only is there less protection against the elements but there's also less protection against theft. For Jeep lovers who plan on going topless more often than not, the soft top is probably your best bet as it is the simplest to remove and provides the most versatility.

Wrangler With No Top


If you're specifically thinking of a new Jeep, read this article for a more detailed analysis of JL Wrangler top options, which changed a few key things.

Still having a difficult time deciding between a Jeep hardtop vs a soft top? Here's a simple solution — get both! One of the perks of owning a Jeep Wrangler is being able to have both a hardtop and a soft top. If you live in an area that experiences all four seasons, it might be a good idea to have both a hardtop and a soft top so you can switch them out when necessary. During the fall and winter, a hardtop would be a better option due to the colder temperatures and the potential for snow weighing down the soft top. Once spring rolls around, you can swap your hardtop out for a soft top, and then you will be able to go topless at a moment's notice!

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This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.