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We pick the best drop-tops for all-around fun driving.

Best Convertible Cars | CarMax

What makes a best convertible? That’s easy — it’s the fun factor. It’s universally accepted that come springtime, climbing into a convertible and driving with the top down is one of life’s pleasures.

Now that warmer weather is here, we’re thinking about the best convertibles for enjoying the spring season. To put this list together, we talked with some of our experienced CarMax associates for their take on the most fun convertibles we sell.

  1. Chevrolet Camaro
  2. BMW 3-Series/4-Series
  3. Jeep Wrangler
  4. Mazda Miata
  5. Ford Mustang

05

Chevrolet Camaro

Best Convertible Cars: Chevrolet Camaro | CarMax

Why it’s fun

The Camaro has been around almost as long as the Mustang, from back when automakers wanted to offer a fun, sporty two-door to younger (and youthful-feeling) drivers. The formula still works today, with the Camaro filling the role of a muscle car that won’t break your budget. This car shows up in our 9 High-Horsepower Cars for Under $20,000 article, and as of the date this was published (May 2018), we had several 2014 Chevrolet Camaro LT convertibles available for sale at CarMax stores for less than $20,000.

This 2014 LT convertible comes with a V6, and it’s a pretty quick one — Road & Track says it’ll reach 60 mph from a standstill in just under five seconds. Find yourself a six-speed automatic version of this particular car and you could have more fun per mile — it delivers an estimated 19 city/29 hwy mpg.2

Want even more fun in your Camaro convertible? Opt for a 2016 Camaro SS convertible with the big V8 engine and your choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. If this isn’t enough fun for you there’s one step beyond: the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has a 6.2L V8 that’s good for 580 hp. That’s serious fun.

Top-droppin’ tips

The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a top that’s a single-button affair. Push and hold it down and the roof unseals and folds back while the trunk opens to swallow it up, hiding it underneath your rear decklid. Very streamlined!

CarMax Average prices (as of April 2018)1

2014-2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible: less than $22,500

2017 Chevrolet Camaro convertible: less than $27,500


04

BMW 4-Series

Best Convertible Cars: BMW 435i | CarMax

Why it’s fun

These BMWs are swoopy, slick-looking, and glamorous — they’re great vehicles for taking advantage of the perfect spring day.

The 2015 BMW 428i has room enough for four fun-seeking passengers and gives you, the fun-seeking driver, a turbocharged engine and a great-sounding Harmon Kardon® stereo system. The 2015 BMW 435 xi convertible, on the other hand, gives you tall, alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, and a 300-hp, six-cylinder engine. The leather front seats are heated and the steering wheel is heated too, so you can have more top-down fun in chillier weather.

Top-droppin’ tips

The coolest thing about the convertible tops on recent model years of these two 4-Series convertibles is their construction. They’re made of several metal panels, and they lift up, back, and down into the car’s trunk in two pieces at the touch of a button. Because it’s not a cloth top, it’s quieter when it’s up and you’re buttoned up inside. So you won’t have to shout over each other while you’re making fun plans. Our associate convertible enthusiast in Florida says he feels like the BMW 4-Series are some the quietest convertibles on this list, by far, for passengers when the roof is up.

CarMax Average prices (as of April 2018)1

2014-2016 BMW 4-Series convertible: less than $33,000

2017 BMW 4-Series convertible: less than $36,500


03

Jeep Wrangler

Best Convertible Cars: Jeep Wrangler | CarMax

Why it’s fun

Yes, the Jeep Wrangler. C’mon, for pure fun, you know it’s hard to top a Wrangler. Four-wheel drive lets you go just about anywhere. The doors come off. And the top comes off. It’s a convertible in wild, open-road spirit.

The Jeep Wrangler can trace its lineage more than 75 years back to the original Jeeps, which were designed to go anywhere, and get any job done, for US soldiers. That can-do spirit of fun conveys in today’s Wranglers and Wrangler Unlimited vehicles, which are tailor-made for adventure seekers.

Mike, a CarMax employee, loves his 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara. He bought it at CarMax, then added an aftermarket lift kit, larger tires, and a new stereo. (“It’s kinda loud with the top off,” he says.) We caught up with him a few weeks before a planned trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he plans to drive it on the beach beside the ocean.

Best Convertible Cars: Jeep Wrangler | CarMax

“I love the fun aspect of this vehicle, and I’ve always loved Jeeps,” he says. “And on warm spring days, you can just throw down the soft top before heading to work.”

Top-droppin’ tips

OK, a Jeep top is a little bit more work. Unbolt the hard top on a 2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport or 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, (find a friend to help with this part), and the top lifts right off. If you’ve got a soft-top Jeep, unpop the snaps, lift off, fold up, and put away till the next cloudy day.

Don’t stop with the top — the Wrangler has removable doors (two doors for the Wrangler Sport, and four doors for the Unlimited models) for even more fun, open-air experiences.

CarMax Average prices (as of April 2018)1

2014-2016 Jeep Wrangler (all): less than $29,500

2017 Jeep Wrangler (all): less than $33,500


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02

Mazda Miata

Best Convertible Cars: Mazda Miata | CarMax

Why it’s fun

If fun’s what you want, it’s certainly what you’ll get with the Miata MX-5. This little two-seater isn’t quite as small as it used to be, but models like the 2017 Miata RF are still eminently tossable in corners and literally just over a ton of fun (curb weight) to drive. We love the manual-transmission Miata, and named it a CarMax Future Classic in our Mazda Miata review article, where indeed, we wondered if it’s not one of the best sports cars ever.

One of our resident CarMax Miata enthusiasts, a senior buyer for the Florida region, points out that at just 2.0L, the 2017 Miata’s four-cylinder engine is the smallest (in terms of horsepower) of any powerplant on this list — but that disqualifies it from exactly nothing.

Best Convertible Cars: Mazda Miata | CarMax

“The 2017 Miata RF only weighs 2,300 pounds, and its light weight is a reason why it handles so well,” our Miata expert says. “Add the fact that there’s a soft top model and a retractable hard top trim (the Miata RF), and you’ve got a lot of fun in a pretty manageable package.”

Top-droppin’ tips

It’s almost ridiculously easy to lower the convertible top on a Miata. Just pop two latches on the soft top and flip it back. Another of our associates, who takes exceedingly good care of his own red 2003 Miata, says he can lower the top on his car at a stoplight in four seconds.

The 2017 Mazda Miata RF has a folding hard top, which quickly retracts into the trunk at the touch of a button (12 seconds, according to a Jalopnik road test).

CarMax Average prices (as of April 2018)1

2014-2016 Miata convertible: less than $21,500

2017 Miata convertible: less than $27,000


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01

Ford Mustang

Best Convertible Cars: Ford Mustang | CarMax

Why it’s fun

Named for the wild horses that free-roamed the Old West, the Ford Mustang is a beloved and iconic American sporty car. Ford’s got the formula down; the spirited Mustang hasn’t been out of production since the 1965 model year, making it the most senior convertible on this list. It’s also currently parked at the top of another list — our Best 2018 Convertibles Ranking article, which is based on 2017 sales.

Many Mustang trims are available as drop-tops, including the V6-engined 2014 Ford Mustang and the 2016 Ford Mustang GT muscle car.

Drop the top on a Mustang and hit the road, and you’re in for some life-affirming, open air experiences. Maybe you’ll pilot your ‘Stang to some canyon roads, to carve up the twisties. Maybe you’re just going to sneak out to run a few errands. Whichever route you choose, you’re looking at a fun time.

Top-droppin’ tips

Above the rear-view mirror on the 2017 Ford Mustang GT convertible there’s a handle; twist it to release front corners of the top, then push and hold a button until the roof drops down behind you. It doesn’t disappear under the trunk, but sits folded right behind the back seat. This makes it a bit easier to raise quickly at the first sign of raindrops on your windshield.

CarMax Average prices (as of April 2018)1

2014-2016 Ford Mustang convertible: less than $22,500

2017 Ford Mustang convertible: less than $27,000


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All of these cars have been in production for decades. Is it coincidental that these five best convertibles are still being sold today? We don’t think so!

Ready to shop for these or other great convertibles? These articles can help you with your research:

1Based on prices on carmax.com in April, 2018. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees.
2 Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.