Spring is here, and so is the nice weather (finally). A great way to take advantage of this is hitting your local cruising spots in a new convertible. Problem: gas prices are well past $4.00 per gallon in a lot of places, and if things continue at the current rate, $5.00 gas is likely to be a harsh reality this summer. Despite the wet blanket that is soaring fuel prices, frugal convertible shoppers actually have a number of options that are both reasonably priced and offer better fuel economy than you might expect.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been around for more than two decades, and for good reason: the current model is one of the best-reviewed convertibles overall and carries on the alluring mixture of delivering great fuel economy and sporty driving. The appeal of the MX-5 Miata doesn’t stop at its low base price (it starts at $23,110) or the impressive-for-a-sporty-car 24 mpg in combined driving. Interior quality is a cut above its competition and its reliability record is beyond reproach. Convertible shoppers needn't spend a lot to get an efficient, overwhelmingly well-reviewed convertible that’s a ton of fun to drive.
Even those looking for a more practical convertible have good choices. The Ford Mustang convertible is only slightly more expensive than the Miata, but is much brawnier and can accommodate four passengers (the back seat, however, is better suited to kids). The Mustang's V6 base engine is both powerful and surprisingly fuel efficient, delivering 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway/23 mpg combined rating. Those numbers are impressive -- not only against the Mustang’s traditional pony-car competition, but other convertibles in general.
If fuel efficiency is of paramount importance (an understandable position these days), the Mini Cooper convertible delivers EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. There’s more to the Mini than gaudy fuel-economy numbers, though. The Mini Cooper convertible is praised by reviewers for having a polished, premium-car feel and tossable, fun handling that’s impossible to find in larger cars. It technically offers seating for four occupants, but don’t be surprised if your friends consigned to the rear stop returning your calls.
These convertibles offer a nice blend of fuel efficiency and affordability, and more importantly, they’re highly regarded by reviewers for being the most fun-to-drive drop-tops in their price range. As gas prices climb higher by the day, you might still be able to have your cake and eat it, after all. So, grab your keys, drop the top, put on some sunscreen, and watch out for low-flying hawks. For additional information on these and other convertibles visit our comprehensive full report.