Spring is springing all around us, and that means warmer temps, more sun, and, hopefully, some kind of vacation. So what kind of car is best for the warm months? A convertible, of course. Here are the five best options in the used market for top-down summer cruising.
If you’re after the purest, simplest form of drop-top delight, the Mazda Miata has been the go-to car since 1989. Fun-to-drive, easy-going, and friendly looking, the Miata is as approachable as convertibles get. Early models can be had very inexpensively, even for examples with low miles and minimal wear. Later Miatas are just as fun and even quicker than their predecessors, though they tend to cost a bit more, too. Still, you can have plenty of fun without breaking the bank with the Miata.
For those who’d prefer a bit more power with their blue sky experience, there’s always the Chevrolet Corvette convertible. Strong V8 engines, good handling, and surprisingly decent gas mileage enhance the top-down fun with serious road trip or back road potential. Look for models from the fifth and sixth generations of the Corvette, built between 1997 and 2013. The earlier models may look a bit dated to some, but other eyes may find them just the right shade of retro. The later cars, built from 2005-2013, are still sharp-edged and modern looking, perfect for a cruise down the coast or up into the mountains.
Ford’s Mustang convertible is another great choice, offering models from as far back as 1973 that will deliver ample smiles and, in GT models, ample speed, all for very little money. Newer examples offer more creature comforts and tech features, so if those are must-haves, stick to the fifth-generation Mustangs built between 2005 and 2014. Those who don’t care so much about speed, but love the Mustang’s style can look for models with V6 engines, which still offer plenty of fun, but are both more affordable to buy and more affordable to feed at the pump. As a bonus, the Mustang has a back seat, so you can bring more friends along for the ride.
Chevrolet’s Camaro is another great choice, especially if your family is more into the Bowtie than the Blue Oval. Like the Corvette, the Camaro convertible packs potent V8s, but like the Mustang, is also available with a V6. Also like the Mustang, the Camaro convertible’s back seat means you can pack in a couple more friends—or just more gear for that day at the beach, the river, or the park.
If luxury is an ingredient you’d like to add to your summer escapades, you might want to consider the Jaguar XK convertible. Classic British styling, powerful engines, and rich leather and wood interiors make the XK one of the best values in the used luxury convertible market. It’s true, Jaguar doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability, but a little time in the shop (and a hefty repair bill or two) isn’t too big a price to pay for a truly stylish, luxurious warm-weather companion, is it?
automotive freelance journalist