Every spring, as the snows thaw and the days begin to warm, you begin to dream of summer drives cruising down the open road with the top down. The usual catch comes when you start actually pricing convertibles and find the reality to be a lot more expensive than you’ve imagined. But not every convertible has to be a Ferrari to be fun.
We found 10 great, affordable convertibles on the market, with each one clocking in at less than $20,000. There’s plenty of things to consider when buying any car and convertibles are no exception, so our list spans across manufacturers, driving styles, and aesthetics. No matter your taste, you’re sure to find something to blow your hair back.
Volkswagen is saying farewell… at least for now, to the Beetle. With 174hp from its 2.0liter engine, this incarnation maintained the long-held tradition of the Beetle’s unimposing pickup. But these cars have never been about killer driving dynamics, and that classic Beetle aesthetic remains strong in its final lap. In fact, the final edition is available in Aquarius Blue or Safari Uni (tan), both throwback Beetle hues. This Beetle offers quality interior trim materials even in the SE trim. And probably the best part is you can get your hands on a new one for under the $20,000 mark. We are sad to see it go, but what better final voyage could you imagine than riding off into the sunset in your Beetle convertible?
You can surely find other compelling BMW convertibles, say the i8 for example, but what you might have a harder time finding is one as good as a 2-Series for under $20,000. With the 2-Series you get excellent acceleration (0-60 in 5 sec.) balanced against an impressive mpg rating residing in the mid-30s (23 city / 34 hwy). Be on the lookout for the Track Handling package available in either the turbo-four 228i or the turbo-six M235i trim levels, this will add more agile steering, breaking, adaptive dampeners, and 18-inch wheels. The iDrive infotainment system comes standard in the 2-Series, with a 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth capability, USB adaptors, and HD radio.
If you’re thirsting for something with that traditional muscle car heft, the 2015 Camaro might be just your ticket. Sleek and powerful on the outside, this perennial classic features engine options delivering 323hp all the way up to a heck-raising 580hp. Since you’ll be skipping the coupe this time around you won’t have to worry about the former’s otherwise lackluster visibility, just drop the top. The overall profile of the Camaro results from a rather squat, almost intimidating exterior design. It looks its best when seen as a blur and appears almost unnatural at speeds below 45mph. Since you might be tempted to open up the throttle a wee bit with this one, you’ll be happy to hear the Camaro received a 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA. Not only does the Camaro provide plenty of straight-line power, its superior handling makes for a fun and fashionable ride.
This is the one that put “sporty” in the term sports car. The 2016 MX-5 is a spicy auto maximizing fun over raw power. The full experience can be had with the 6-speed manual or if you prefer to simply bliss out, go for the automatic. The inline-4 delivers when you want it to while still providing respectable mpg ratings of 27/34 for the manual and 27/36 for the automatic. The 2016 Miata is a driver focused machine, modern and stylish both inside and out. Like many in its class, the Miata is built for short, exhilarating drives in the country, as its limited cargo space makes long distance travel questionable at best.
A Mustang with a 4-cylinder might raise some eyebrows. How can Ford shortchange its pony car of ponies?! But, in fact, it hasn’t. Even the 4-banger Mustang will call up 310hp and 320 pound feet of torque. Still skeptical? Just go ahead and upgrade to the V6 or V8, we won’t blame you. More is more, after all. Speaking of upgrades, this generation of Mustang received a new independent rear suspension, and overall the drive has improved making this car as nimble as its namesake. The Mustang is a blend of the classic and the modern, echoing the attitude of past models while offering updated capabilities and a fresh look.
No list of desirable convertibles would be complete without a Porsche in the mix. The 2008 Boxster represents the Porsche brand well with its precise steering, nimble handling, and the option of a 2.7liter V6 offering up 245hps or a 3.4liter good for 295hps, either choice capable of pinning you back in your seat. The classic feel, the classic drive, the classic look of a Porsche all with the top down for under $20,000. What’s not to love?
Yes, this one is the oldest car on our list, but there’s a good reason why we included the 2006 Honda S2000. It’s one of the most fun rides you can have with the top down. Period. The S2000 possesses some of the sharpest, most responsive handling you’ll encounter outside of six-figures while cornering at speed with more zip than Miracle Whip. While Honda’s reputation for middling interior design goes unchallenged here, you probably won’t find time to notice. Function emphatically triumphs over form in the S2000.
The 370Z covers a lot of bases. Track-car like handling? Check. Assertive V6 engine? Check. A price point well below its comparative quality? Cha-check. Indeed, the 370Z looks and feels the part of a luxury brand sports car combining both performance and comfort with equal aplomb. The 370Z comes with your choice of a 6-speed manual or automatic, a minimum 332hp, and average mpg ratings of 18 city / 24 hwy.
Modified from an Opel design, the Casada was built as a convertible first (and Buick’s first in decades) and as a result looks the part in ways its competitors do not. The Casada keeps with the Buick tradition of high-quality bang-for-your-buck interior comforts. Not as cat-like as some other entries, the drive is still quite fun. Of note is the cargo space which greatly exceeds that of other vehicles in the segment at 9.8 cubic feet of trunk space with the top down! Rest assured, you can enjoy the Casada on trips longer than just around the block.
The MINI has made its bones on its lively handling, packing as much fun as possible into its diminutive frame, and the MINI Convertible Cooper carries on this tradition while adding the extra fun of a drop top. The S trim comes with a 2.0L Turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 189hp, so it definitely ends up as our recommendation. The MINI also features a Rain Warning function to alert you when you’ve left the top down with an impending rainstorm approaching. Meaning no worries about soggy seats.
Love convertibles as much as we do? Let us know what your top picks are when going roofless.