The convertible segment isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, but there are many great options left for buyers seeking that unique wind-in-your-hair experience. None are better than the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Now in its fourth generation, it continues to deliver a blend of fun and value in a package that’s reliable, affordable, and more user-friendly than ever before. It didn’t become the world’s best-selling roadster by pure luck.
If you want to cruise in something different, we’ve selected the best luxury convertible, the best convertible sports car, and the best convertible SUV — yep, that’s really a thing. We’ve hand-picked this crop of drop-tops after traveling all over the world to drive the newest, sexiest, and greatest convertibles on the market. One quick tip: remember to bring sunscreen.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Why you should buy this: It’s the distilled essence of driving pleasure.
Who it’s for: People who view driving as a joy, not a chore.
How much it will cost: $25,730+
Why we picked the Mazda MX-5 Miata:
It may not be fast or flashy, but the Mazda MX-5 Miata offers one of the purest driving experiences of any new car. It’s small, light, and responds to the driver’s inputs with immediacy. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine’s 181-horsepower rating won’t impress your friends, but it’s eager to rev and it’s available with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. You can order an automatic transmission if you prefer a two-pedal setup.
The rest of the Miata is pretty good too. The current, fourth-generation model (called ND in Mazda-speak) has more expressive styling than previous versions, and the interior is admirably simple and ergonomic for a modern car. Previous generations of Miata have proven to be fairly reliable as well, which bodes well for the new one.
Mazda offers two choices of convertible top. You can opt for the basic soft top, or step up to the Miata RF to get a power-folding hard top. The RF offers a sleek fastback shape with the roof up (hence the name, an acronym for “Retractable Fastback”), although it’s really more like a 1970s or 1980s targa top than a true convertible.
Our full Mazda MX-5 Miata review
The best luxury convertible
Why you should buy this: It’s a drop-top lounge on wheels.
Who it’s for: Very, very rich people.
How much it will cost: $335,000+
Why we picked the Rolls-Royce Dawn:
The Rolls-Royce name is synonymous with luxury, and the storied British automaker’s latest convertible does not disappoint. From a powerful V12 engine, to a flawlessly smooth ride, to a gorgeous interior, the Dawn has it all.
The Dawn is based on the same platform as Rolls-Royce’s Ghost sedan and Wraith coupe, and it shares its powertrain with those models. The 6.6-liter, twin-turbocharged V12 produces 563 hp and 575 pound-feet of torque, which gets the Dawn from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. That’s not bad for a car that weighs over 5,000 pounds, and the V12 does its job so smoothly and quietly you’d think it was an electric motor.
The interior is on a different level from anything produced by any other automaker, with the possible exception of Bentley. Everything looks and feels crafted rather than manufactured — there are cute touches like umbrellas stashed in the doors, and the front seats are like lounge chairs. Even the back seats have a decent amount of room, and that’s a rarity in a two-door convertible. The Dawn may be one of the most expensive new cars on sale, but you certainly get a lot for your money.
Read our full Rolls-Royce Dawn review
The best convertible SUV
Why you should buy this: It’s the only convertible SUV that isn’t ridiculous.
Who it’s for: Adventurers and off-roaders.
How much it will cost: $28,295+
Why we picked the Jeep Wrangler:
Most convertible SUVs are weird. The Range Rover Evoque convertible, the now-retired Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, and the limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet are all questionable propositions at best, but the Jeep Wrangler is a convertible SUV that actually makes sense. It’s one of the few SUVs left with serious off-road capability, and being able to put the roof down just adds to the experience.
The Wrangler isn’t the traditional kind of convertible. It’s not a compact roadster or an elegant luxury barge, and it doesn’t stop with a folding roof. You can also fold the windshield and remove the doors for a true open-air experience. The Gladiator pickup — which shares many of its mechanical components with the Wrangler Unlimited — offers the same wind-in-your-hair experience with, as a bonus, a cargo box.
This Jeep can also go where few vehicles can. Its four-wheel drive system, beefy suspension, and short overhangs make the Wrangler an off-road athlete, exactly what you’d expect from the car with the closest ties to the original World War II-era Jeeps.
Porsche 718 Boxster
The best convertible sports car
Why you should buy this: It’s one of the best-tuned convertibles on the market.
Who it’s for: People who view driving as a joy, not a chore.
How much it will cost: $59,600+
Why we picked the Porsche 718 Boxster:
Porsche’s 718 Boxster is the kind of car you need to drive to understand; words don’t do it justice. We’ll try, though. It’s a relatively small, nimble roadster with a mid-mounted engine so it’s a joy to drive. Placing the engine and the transmission — the heaviest parts of the car — directly behind the driver creates a convertible that seems to pivot around a corner. Add Porsche’s near-perfect steering and a suspension tuned with driving pleasure in mind, and the Boxster turns into one of the best ways to have fun on four wheels without visiting a race track.
The engine in question is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter flat-four that makes 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque in the base Boxster. Selecting the Boxster S adds a 2.5-liter flat-four turbocharged to 350 horsepower, and the GTS model offers a 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated flat-six with 394 horsepower on tap.
Regardless of the model you choose, the Boxster benefits from Porsche’s spectacular attention to detail. It offers a luxury car-like interior with useful tech features like smartphone integration.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
The best high-performance convertible
Why you should buy this: It’ll fix your hair quicker than gel.
Who it’s for: Speed demons.
How much it will cost: $216,300+
Why we picked the Porsche 911 Turbo S:
Unveiled in 2020, the Turbo S is positioned at the top of the Porsche 911 range as a no-holds-barred drop-top with supercar-like power. It receives a 3.8-liter flat-six engine turbocharged to 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, and bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Porsche quotes a zero-to-60-mph time of 2.7 seconds, a figure reserved for hypercars up until a few years ago. It keeps accelerating until it reaches 205 mph.
That’s a ton of power, even considering it’s split among the four wheels, so Porsche made extensive modifications to the suspension and the brakes in order to keep it in check. The big rear wing isn’t there just for show; it creates downforce that keeps the rear end planted on the ground at high speeds. An active suspension cancels body roll.
And yet, the 911 Turbo S isn’t a stripped-out track rat. It comes standard with 18-way power-adjustable seats, a surround-sound system made by Bose, and a 10.9-inch touchscreen that displays Porsche’s excellent infotainment system. It’s not cheap, but after a jaunt in it, you’ll get why it’s nearly twice as expensive as a regular 911 convertible.
How we test
The Digital Trends automotive team tests vehicles through a comprehensive scrutinizing process. We examine the qualities of the exterior and interior and judge them based on our expertise and experience in the context of the vehicle’s category and price range. Entertainment technology is thoroughly tested as well as most safety features that can be tested in controlled environments.
Test drivers spend extensive time behind the wheel of the vehicles, conducting real-world testing, driving them on highways, back roads, as well as off-road and race tracks when applicable.
- Best car brands
- The best cars for 2020
- The best compact cars for 2020
- The best station wagons for 2020
- 2020 Toyota 86 Hakone Edition review: Cheap thrills