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The Freedom of a Convertible

Tuner Tom
by Tuner Tom
October 25, 2013

Cars have always been equated with freedom. The open road, the wind in your hair and your past behind you, ultimate mobility, perhaps even the ability to pick up and go find a better life just over the horizon. Nothing exemplifies this notion like the classic convertible. Be that convertible a roadster, hardtop convertible, cabriolet, soft-top convertible, retractable, or anything else you would like to call it, the convertible has won a place in the hearts of the public like no other body style.

Over the decades, convertibles have always been of limited production and of greater desirability than their enclosed counterparts have. These days, the convertible is almost exclusively an up-market option with just a handful of more proletarian convertibles available on a budget. In order to provide the best possible fit for your budget, we created two lists for our best used convertibles. On our top-10 list, we capped the price at our standard $200,000 cut-off, but not to fear, many of the convertibles on our top-10 are priced far below. Our top-10 also features a ‘just missed the cut’ addendum of five additional vehicles. For those of us who still want cash in our wallet while the wind is in our hair, we have created a second addendum of five excellent convertibles that can be had for under $30,000.

Regardless of how you slice up the field, the Mazda MX-5 Miata was the clear winner. While it may not have the pricey cachet of a Cadillac XLR-V or the muscle car styling of the Pontiac Solstice, the Mazda MX-5 Miata rose above the rest in its overall value and has been selected our best buy in the convertible category both over all and in the under-$30,000 sub-categories. See the sidebar on more specifics on the Miata.

Computing the Rankings

A total of 10 cars were selected as the best convertible under a variety of technical classifications such as cabriolet, retractable top, roadster, convertible, etc. Each convertible was rated on 15 individual indicators including safety, reliability, mileage, style, price, cost-of-ownership, fit and finish, drive system, telamatics, performance, warranty, comfort, child friendliness, fuel selection, and towing capacity.

Category Winner - 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Taking the number one spot in the best convertibles list is the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Mazda Miata has been a long-time favorite of those looking for a sporty convertible that does not cost a small fortune. The Miata is priced low enough to make it a very viable second or third car to be used primarily for recreation driving. The Miata for ’07 is available in no less than seven major trims, each featuring the 2.0-liter inline 4 cylinder producing 166 horsepower. The 4 cylinder provides plenty of pep for the small Mazda, and achieves a healthy EPA 30 mpg highway rating. MSRP on the Miata starts at $20,435 for the SV trim, and ranges up to $26,360 for the Grand Touring model with power retractable hardtop.

Top 10 Convertibles

  1. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  2. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
  3. Lexus SC 430
  4. MINI Cooper Convertible
  5. Volvo C70
  6. Cadillac XLR
  7. Honda S2000
  8. Volkswagen Eos
  9. Porsche 911 Carrera
  10. Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible

Just missed the cut:

  • Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
  • Pontiac Solstice
  • Saturn Sky
  • Mitsubishi Eclipse
  • Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Top 5 Convertibles under $30,000

  1. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  2. MINI Cooper Convertible
  3. Volkswagen Eos
  4. Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible
  5. Pontiac Solstice


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