Although you won't find one on every street corner, convertibles remain a vibrant presence on the American scene. Some buyers always insist on a drop-top, and others buy one as a reward for suffering through a lifetime of boring cars. Whatever your reason, it's a good time to be in the market. Almost all of the big brands offer at least one path to the freedom of open-air motoring. Here are five of the most compelling choices for 2017.
The poster car for American cool, the Mustang convertible came roaring back in the 1980s and hasn't let up since. Introduced in 2015, the latest version comes standard with a 300-horsepower V6 engine, and you can upgrade to a four-cylinder turbo with 310 horsepower. GT models get a 5-liter V8 that lays down 435 horsepower and allows the Mustang to hit 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. All versions grip the road with gusto.
Unlike past generations, the Mustang of today boasts a contemporary, even high-tech interior with tons of available comfort and trim upgrades. In fact, the whole car is highly customizable. Ford offers a huge array of design packages and performance add-ons. Value has always been part of the Mustang story, and we're glad to see that hasn't changed. The convertible starts at just over $30,000.
The topless version of Chevy's long-running muscle car proves that raw power and macho looks never go out of style. The Camaro convertible holds just as much appeal as the 1967 original when it comes to sheer excitement for the money.
The Camaro lost 200 pounds in last year's full redesign and emerged as a trim and exotic muscle car for the modern era. The standard 2-liter turbo puts out 275 horsepower, enough to make the Camero suitably quick while achieving 30+ mpg in the highway.
The available 3.6-liter V6 provides a boost to 335 horsepower. SS models carry a 6.2-liter V8 good for 455 horsepower. Buyers looking for something truly ferocious can step up to the 650-horsepower ZL1, which is one the most track-worthy convertibles you can buy.
The sexy Italian that you can afford, the all-new 124 Spider brings back the look and personality of classic Fiat roadsters. At the same time, the Spider is a thoroughly modern machine with quality and refinement that its ancestors could only dream about.
The new Fiat shares its basic structure with Mazda's famed MX-5 Miata, which alone should tell you something about its capacity for fun. The styling and interior treatment are very Italian, and by that we mean beautiful. The available two-tone leather interior will remind you of European sports cars costing three times as much.
Fiat's 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo delivers 160 horsepower to the rear wheels. That might not sound like a lot of oomph, but it's enough to take the little roadster from to zero to 60 mph in under 7 seconds. The sporty Abarth variant offers slightly more power and a firmer suspension.
The VW Beetle demonstrates that fun and frugality can not only coexist, but live in perfect harmony. It's affordable, entertaining, and able to make heads turn. What other car can you say that about?
While the Beetle sells on its personality, there's also a practical side to the little German. The power cloth top does an excellent job of sealing out the elements, including wind noise. With the top up, front passengers still get plenty of headroom. The rear seat features a pass-through for carrying long items and folds down completely to accommodate cargo.
The standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo puts out 170 horsepower, more than most base engines in the class. Sporty R-Line models get a 2-liter turbo with 210 horsepower, which make the Beetle much faster than it looks. In addition, you'll get more standard equipment than usual for the price, including heated front seats, ambient interior lighting, and an eight-speaker sound system with touchscreen.
While the Cascada is a different kind of Buick, it’s still very much a car for grown-ups. You get legitimate room for four passengers, a usable trunk, and all the interior comforts you expect in an entry-level luxury car. The Cascada hit the street just last year and continues for 2017 unchanged.
Convertibles aren’t known for their practicality, but the Cascada comes with very few concessions. You don’t need to live where it’s always warm and sunny to justify buying one. The thickly insulated soft top does an impressive job of filtering out noise and cold, and you can still hold a normal conversation when it’s down.
Handling is typical of a modern luxury car, confident and responsive, but subordinate to ride comfort. Power delivery from the 200-horsepower four-cylinder turbo is exceptionally smooth. The Cascada is a relaxed cruiser that's easy to enjoy even when you're just commuting in the rain.