With summer-like temperatures reaching into the heartland of American vehicle production country as early as mid-March, the convertible-buying season came early this year. The temperature on the first day of spring was an easy seven degrees warmer than the previous record in metro Detroit. Motorcycles and droptops were dusted off as employees told their bosses they had a “special appointment at the doctor’s office”.
For those who found their garage sorely lacking inconvertible options, considerations were made. How quickly can I find a cheap, used convertible? Are there any interesting new convertibles available, not including the Ferrari 458 Spider? What if I want to spend as little as possible on a brand new convertible? How low can I go?
Enough questions. These are the ten least expensive new convertibles on sale in America right now, incentives aside.
#10 – Chevrolet Camaro: $30,180
Aggressively designed and oozing with all-American appeal, the new Chevy convertible, though not capable of catering to every buyer, forms part of the Camaro range, the best-selling “sporty” car vehicle line in the United States. The V6-powered Camaro is the only car on this list with a base price north of $30K, but it’s also the only car on this list with more than 305 horsepower.
#9 – Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder: $27,999
The Eclipse Spyder is a dying breed – only 88 were sold in the first two months of 2012 – and Mitsubishi has announced no plans to continue with the Eclipse line now that production of this fourth-generation car has ended. It isn’t the driver’s car it once was, but there are deals to be had on the few remaining examples you’ll find on dealer lots.
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#8 – Ford Mustang: $27,200
In terms of powerplant arrangements, transmission options, trim lines, style packages, and options, there likely isn’t another car on this list capable of satisfying so many different budgets. Upgrade to the Mustang V6 Premium for more than $30,000, the Mustang GT V8 Convertible for more than $35,000, or the Shelby GT500 Convertible for closer to $60,000, or $66,380 in fully-optioned form, 2.4 times the price of a basic V6 hardtop Mustang. Have it your way.
#7 – Chrysler 200: $26,775
Derided by many in the enthusiast auto press as a convertible lacking any other redeeming qualities, the 200 Convertible remains popular with older buyers and rental car companies which need to supply convertible renters with a spacious car.
#6 – Mini Cooper Convertible: $25,650
Mini’s original convertible is no longer solely responsible for carrying the droptop aspirations of the Mini brand, what with the Roadster claiming attention lately. The Convertible is, however, the only Mini droptop with a rear seat.
#5 – Mini Roadster: $25,050
Attempting to be a bit of a keener, more cart-like driving machine than the conventional Mini Cooper Convertible, the new Roadster is a bit more attractive, lower-slung, and aggressive than the original Convertible. And while losing rear seats is a bit of a sacrifice, there’s a lower MSRP on offer to make up for the Roadster’s inability to take more than one friend for a ride.
#4 – Mazda MX-5 Miata: $23,470
One of only two cars on this list that is designed exclusively as a convertible, the Miata is nearing the end of its current lifecycle. The new yet-to-be-revealed MX-5 is said to have lost hundreds of pounds as Mazda strives to take the best-selling roadster in history back to its roots. Keep in mind, for an MX-5 Miata with a hardtop, you’ll pay an extra $4070, but the hardtop still drops.
#3 – Jeep Wrangler: $22,045
The other vehicle on this list which has been and should always be intentionally topless, Jeep’s Wrangler is more powerful, more fuel-efficient, and more comfortable than ever. Of course, there’s also the relatively new option of adding two rear doors, a comfortable rear seat, and a huge cargo area with the $25,544 Wrangler Unlimited.
#2 – Fiat 500C: $19,500
Fiat is struggling to gain a foothold in the American marketplace. As if the 500 Cabrio needed any help removing males from its possible buyers list, the cutesy Jennifer Lopez commercials went a long way to restricting potential owners to females.
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#1 – smart fortwo: $17,690
Although sales have recently been increasing, the fortwo passion cabriolet will never be a popular car in America, not in our lifetimes. It’s ridiculously economical in the city and a rather roomy inside for two, but the transmission requires patience and the savings compared to a car like the 500C are simply not substantial enough. However, given the fortwo’s size, just think how shipping costs are saved when fortwos can be loaded in the back of an auto transporter over and over and over again.