Few vehicle types deliver more joie de vivre than the convertible. Exhilarating, freeing and just plain fun to drive, these top-down models are for those who want the wind in their hair and a daily commute that is anything but routine. For these drivers, the 2010 convertible lineup delivers more than a few tantalizing open-air models for your driving enjoyment. Narrow the options and find the perfect bargain ragtop or luxury hardtop for your needs with this 2010 convertible buying guide.
Narrowing Your Options
The convertible body style isn't built for the average car driver. Those interested in a drop-top are likely looking for an exciting drive that is complemented by style, comfort and performance. This added attention to design typically results in a price premium for convertibles. However, while the majority of convertibles slant towards the upscale price range, several models start around $20,000. As with most car buying decisions, determining how much your wallet can handle is typically a good place to start when narrowing your options.
The next factor you may want to check off of your list is vehicle size. Convertibles come in everything from 2-seater compacts to 5-seater models that rival the size of full-size sedans. If speed and performance are your top priority, then you'll likely be interested in the sporty zip offered by a compact model. On the other hand, the need to tote groceries or kids may have you looking towards the larger end of the vehicle spectrum.
Finally, it may be important to determine what kind of convertible top you want. Manual ragtops are the most affordable, but require you to remove the top yourself. Manual hardtops are also available, adding a boost in safety when the roof is in place. Retractable ragtops and hardtops are also available. Though typically more expensive, they offer the convenience of top-down and top-up action mid-drive.
Beyond these main factors, other things to think about when buying a 2010 convertible include horsepower, fuel efficiency and noise-reduction features such as windscreens.
2010 Affordable Convertible Buying Guide
Eclipse" />With a base price below $23,000, the long-time favorite Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most affordable convertibles for the 2010 model year. Despite a low MSRP, the diminutive Miata offers a zippy drive and dreamy handling. It also benefits from superior fuel efficiency and the ability to choose between a ragtop and power-retractable hardtop.
For those looking for a little more room than offered by the two-seater Miata, the 2010 MINI Cooper may be a good option. Supreme handling and solid acceleration deliver plenty of pep for this retro-styled convertible. At 36 mpg on the highway, it is also more efficient than any other drop-top for the year (save for the tiny Smart fortwo city commuter).
Freshened styling and added power under the hood only serve to improve the appeal of the 2010 Ford Mustang convertible. Those looking for a vehicle that is less cutesy and more robust will inevitably be drawn to this classically styled muscle car. Two engine options allow you to balance performance with price - output ranges from 210 hp to 315 hp. Base MSRP starts below $20,000.
Other convertibles that come with a bargain-basement price include the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Volkswagen Beetle. The Eclipse is an aggressively styled sports car that delivers the tameness and luxuries of a family-friendly sedan. The VW Beetle continues to turn heads with its unique domed design.
For maximum cargo space and minimum coin, look into the 2010 Chrysler Sebring. Though less peppy than most convertibles, it does offer the benefit of mid-size sedan proportions at a base price below $20,000. A more classy, yet similarly sized alternative to the Sebring can be found in the upscale Volkswagen Eos. If near-luxury accoutrements are your bag, then the sporty and compact BMW 1-Series may also be worth a test drive.
2010 Luxury and Sports Convertible Lineup
Corvette" />Luxury convertibles make up the bulk of the 2010 convertible lineup. With base prices that range from $35,000 to well over $100,000, these models offer either true sports car performance or unparalleled luxury (and sometimes both). One of the most affordable luxury convertibles for the year is the Audi TT. Smart styling and a refined interior make this sporty model an all-around great option for those seeking a comfortable everyday convertible. However, the Audi TT lags behind other luxury convertibles when it comes to speed and horsepower.
For a little more power under the hood at a similar price, look into the BMW 3 Series or Nissan 370Z. The BMW 3 Series adds comfort, size and power to its BMW 1 Series brother to deliver a superior package in almost every regard. BMW 328i models zip along at 230 horsepower, while 335i models top out at an impressive 300 horsepower. The new Nissan 370Z beats out the BMW favorite with a pulse-pounding 332 horsepower.
Added interior volume and a more well-rounded driving experience can be found in the well-appointed Infiniti G37. Few vehicles offer the superior level of comfort, pristine beauty and performance as the G37 convertible. Base MSRP for the 2010 G37 convertible starts around $44,000.
Pure sports car performance can be found in the Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche Boxster. Of the two, the Boxster provides a better balance of interior refinement and sport-tuned acceleration. However, if performance trumps passenger comfort, the Chevy Corvette's 430 horsepower is tough to beat. The Mercedes-Benz SLK sits in the same price range (about $45,000), and may be worth a look if appearance and comfort are more important to you than number of ponies.
For a few dollars more, drivers can climb behind one of the most iconic convertibles of all time - the Porsche 911 Carrera. Despite its sport car exterior and maximum 385 horsepower, the supreme comfort level of the Porsche 911 delivers a smooth enough ride for everyday use. With a base price around $73,000, few luxury convertibles can compete with the all-around value of the Carrera.
Press onward past the $80,000 mark, and you'll find capable competitors in the 2010 Jaguar XK, Mercedes-Benz SL and BMW 6 Series. Of the bunch, the Mercedes-Benz SL is perhaps the best buy, with unparalleled luxury and a V8 engine that keeps the ultra-luxe vehicle neck-and-neck with sportier-looking models. However, you may want to look into the BMW 6 Series if you require additional interior cabin space or the Jaguar XK if you want a more aggressive body style.