Edmunds (AP) — If last summer was all about hunkering down, staying safe and social distancing, 2021′s sunshine season will see us reconnecting with friends and getting back out into the world. What better way to embark on new adventures than in a convertible? The decision to buy a new drop-top might be easy to make, but selecting from the wide range of models is a bit more difficult. The experts at Edmunds are here to help you narrow your selection by naming the top convertibles for 2021.
2021 MAZDA MX-5 MIATA
The original Mazda MX-5 Miata from the 1990s bowled over buyers by expertly combining the driving dynamics of classic British sports cars with the reliability offered by a modern Japanese automaker. Today’s Miata is still a classic two-seat convertible with an easy-to-lower manual top, but Mazda has also seen to keep it up-to-date with a sufficient number of technology features.
The Miata is one of the smallest cars on sale, and taller passengers will feel cramped. But the benefits of its petite design pays dividends in the areas of vehicle balance and fun. The Miata boasts quick acceleration and a sublimely nimble feel when going around turns. It’s impressive stuff for such a modestly priced roadster.
Starting price (including destination): $27,825
Fuel economy: 29-30 mpg combined
2021 FORD MUSTANG CONVERTIBLE
The vehicle that started the pony car craze is also Edmunds’ favorite drop-top muscle car. The Ford Mustang convertible isn’t as lithe as the Miata, but its four-seat layout is more practical and its trunk is more than twice the size of the Miata’s. If you’re looking to take a road trip up the coast with friends, the Mustang is hard to beat.
The Mustang’s standard engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder that returns a 0-60 mph time in the low 6-second range. Even more enticing is the V8 motor, which makes the same run in 4.6 seconds. Other Mustang highlights include a composed ride and a nicely trimmed interior, but we’re not fans of the slow-to-shift automatic transmission.
Starting price (including destination): $33,900
Fuel economy: 18-23 mpg combined
2021 BMW Z4
If you want a roadster that places a premium on refinement, the BMW Z4 might be the one. The Z4 is a two-seat convertible that deftly switches between relaxed cruiser and corner-carving sports car with a prod of the throttle. It’s also one of the most luxurious vehicles in its class, with excellent noise control with the top up and a simple but richly appointed interior. On the downside, the Z4 doesn’t have much in-cabin storage space, so finding places to hold small items can be challenging.
Two models are available. The standard sDrive30i uses a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the M40i is driven by an impressively powerful turbocharged six-cylinder. The BMW Z4 is perfect for shoppers looking to step up their convertible game without breaking the bank.
Starting price (including destination): $50,695
Fuel economy: 25-28 mpg combined
2021 LEXUS LC 500 CONVERTIBLE
From its expressive exterior design to a cabin replete in rich leather and racy faux suede, the Lexus LC 500 convertible is a stunner inside and out. This Lexus is at its best cruising along endless stretches of highway rather than tackling a race circuit. Even so, the LC 500 retains the sprightly handling you’d expect of a six-figure sports car.
The LC 500 convertible has a standard 471-horsepower V8, and its intoxicating exhaust note is almost worth the price of admission alone. But its infotainment system is frustrating enough that we recommend a thorough test drive before you commit.
Starting price (including destination): $102,125
Fuel economy: 18 mpg combined
2021 PORSCHE 911 CABRIOLET
The Porsche 911 has long served as the gold standard against which all other sports cars are judged. The same is true of the Cabriolet, which shows no signs of excessive vibration or other classic convertible drawbacks that can manifest when you lop off a coupe’s roof. Instead, the 911 remains totally poised when navigating tight mountain switchbacks. It’s also eminently comfortable on the road.
The 911 comes in many flavors, all of which feature a turbocharged six-cylinder engine. While Porsche is (in)famous for its extensive options list, you don’t have to dip into the kids’ college fund to get superlative performance. For instance, the Carrera S is just one step up from the base model and rips from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds. It isn’t cheap, but the 911 Cabriolet is practically peerless.
Starting price (including destination): $115,350
Fuel economy: 17-20 mpg combined
From the Mazda MX-5 Miata to the Porsche 911, there are plenty of highly regarded convertibles for you to consider as we head into drop-top weather. – AP