We may be in the heart of winter, but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring. More specifically, there’s never a bad time to ponder the ownership of a convertible. Die-hard performance enthusiasts will tell you a convertible top adds weight and detracts from a vehicle’s stiffness, but there are few feelings as great as driving along with the top down. Here are some our our favorites (click on the vehicle names to get more info and images on each drop-top ride).
Mini Cooper Convertible
Base MSRP: $25,700
There are other convertibles here that are arguably more fun to drive, and others that might be more capable, but few cars blend go-kart-like handling with a convertible top and seating for four. The last part is pretty key, as this car is Miata-level fun, and yet has twice as much seating capacity.
Mini is owned by BMW, which means you can get hosed on options, but fight the temptation to go for extras and you can pay as little as around $26,000 for a 2015 models. A new generation is on the way, and pricing might be incrementally higher, but still in the same neighborhood.
Base MSRP: $23,895
You might not expect to see a 4×4 on this list, but the Wrangler is the most useful convertible of them all. With standard four-wheel drive and a removable soft top, the Wrangler is the de-facto go-anywhere convertible.
Of all the convertibles on this list, the ragtop on the Wrangler is the most spartan, however, if you are in the market for a Wrangler, then you should know what you are getting into. If you want more protection from the elements, Jeep even offers the Freedom top, which features removable roof panels over each individual front seat.
Base MSRP: $24,915
It should come as no surprise that the Miata finds its way on this list. The quintessential modern roadster originally took inspiration from cars like the Alfa Romeo Spider and Lotus Europa. The latest version is as good as its ever been, with enough body roll to keep you on your toes, and a modest power that forces you to wring every horsepower from its 2.0 liters. The mesh seat designs allow for taller drivers to fit in the car, which is a huge deal for this 6-foot-3 writer’s frame.
Ford Mustang Convertible
Base MSRP: $29,695
The ultimate pony car has something that no Mustang before it ever had—a compelling four-cylinder engine. To keep the frame as stiff as the coupe version, many convertibles have added reinforcement, which adds weight. The base model’s 3.7-liter V6 makes 300 horsepower, which is enough to make the entry-trim of the drop-top pony car a seriously fun ride. Sure, this might be the engine you get with a rental, but opt for it with the manual and it completely changes its nature, and you won’t regret it.
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Base MSRP: $31,205
If you ask our writers, the most-improved sports car of last year would be the Chevy Camaro. The car is far more advanced than the fifth-generation model. The chassis and engines are new, and inside, it’s fitted with Chevy MyLink infotainment and Apple CarPlay.
The new Camaro is better in every way, but it still retains its horrid rearward visibility. The solution is the convertible version of the Camaro, which starts at around $31K for a manual V6 model, making a solid 323-hp. You can’t drive with the top down all the time, but the chance for occasional full visibility is better than the alternative.
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Base MSRP: $25,490
It’s unavoidable to describe the previous-generation Beetle as a “chick-car.” But the modern version of the convertible, which has been around since 2013, is a completely different vehicle, with nimble handling, a handsome interior and some solid motivation in the Turbo model. You can also get a bunch of cool special editions, each embodying a unique personality
Base MSRP: $33,605
We’ll have our full review on the Buick Cascada later this week, but it’s a great addition to the Buick lineup. It’s an attractive convertible with European DNA, a pretty responsive powertrain and direct, energetic steering. Unlike a typical luxury car, which comes with little content and then forces buyers to shell out for even the most basic amenities, the Cascada comes loaded up with features like 20-inch wheels, a turbocharged engine, leather seating and navigation all for the