It was a long winter for the auto industry. All through those dark months, the media chronicled the startling realities of bankruptcy for Chrysler and GM, as well as the nation’s plunging car sales.
Now with the sun shining across the country, we’re reminded that despite all the dire news, the showroom enthusiasm tank hasn’t hit “E.” There are superb roadsters and convertibles on sale this summer.
And considering the continuing high level of incentives throughout the market now might be the best opportunity in quite some time to take the plunge for a “want” car.
Convertibles and roadsters — whether with two seats or more — typically are a costlier proposition than everyday cars, so we divided this dozen drop-tops into a group of more-affordable options and some of our favorite premium models.
Affordable Roof Removal
— Volkswagen Eos ($31,615): What’s not to like about the Eos’ blend of practicality, comfort and performance? The folding hardtop retracts in seconds and provides comfy foul-weather protection, the turbocharged four-cylinder is lively and fairly frugal, and the Eos seats four. You might beef that the $31,000 starting price isn’t “affordable,” but the Eos is one of the more inexpensive four-seat convertibles around.
— Saturn Sky ($28,265): Oooh, this two-seat Saturn fronts some of the slinkiest lines you’ll find for the money. Yeah, the Sky (and it’s equally great-looking Pontiac Solstice counterpart) is best considered as an around-town runabout because GM’s stylists forgot to leave room for any storage, but it’s fun enough to drive and even has potential collector value now that Pontiac is shutting down and Saturn will no longer be a part of GM.
— Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder ($25,949): A longtime best-seller, the Eclipse Spyder encompasses just about everything an affordable roadster is all about: great price, decent performance and sexy sheet metal that’s noticeably restyled for 2009. We’d spent extra money for the GT and its 265-horsepower V-6 for the “go” to match the looks.
— Mazda MX-5 Miata ($25,680): The Miata is the world’s best-selling convertible for good reason: it’s an unqualified delight to drive (don’t deny yourself the delectable six-speed manual transmission) and, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009, still is a killer bargain. There’s even a hardtop version that retracts the metal in 12 seconds flat.
— Jeep Wrangler Unlimited ($24,240): The iconic Wrangler is known mainly for its SUV-ness, of course, so it’s easy to forget the top comes off these things, creating one unique driving experience. We priced the four-door Wrangler Unlimited here because it’s so much more useful than the two-door Wrangler, but either way, the Wrangler is a definitively American slant on the convertible formula.