An expensive ride
under sunny skies on the way to Haulover Beach isn't
the only way to go topless. While you can't turn Des
Moines into Miami, not all convertibles have to take a
chunk out of your wallet. Some beauties are priced at
less than $30,000--and, for added frugality, get
more than 20 mpg on the highway.
1. General Motors
rolled out the Pontiac Solstice roadster first, but
gays have taken more to its better-looking twin, the Saturn
Sky. The lines are sexier, though the two-seat
convertible package is essentially the same for both
cars. Under the teensy hood there's a choice of a
2.4-liter four-cylinder with 173 horsepower, or, in the Sky
Red Line, a meatier 2.0-liter turbo four with 260
horsepower. A choice of five-speed automatic or manual
transmission is up to you, though our money is on the
automatic, which still gets as much as 28 mpg on the open
road. And the price tag starts at $26,145.
2. Sharing its
name with the goddess of the dawn, the four-seat
Volkswagen Eos sneaks in at just below $29,000. The
Eos's coolest features include a retractable
hardtop that folds neatly away in the trunk in 25
seconds and highway fuel economy as high as 30 mpg. Engine
choices include a 200-horsepower turbo four-cylinder and a
250-horsepower V-6 that sports VW's nifty
dual-clutch automatic transmission.
3 Intimate as a
table for two in a back corner and responsive as a 911
call, the Mazda Miata is a great choice for a two-seat
roadster with good looks, fantastic handling, and an
easy-to-use top. For just $21,220 you get a classic
roadster with a 166-horsepower four-cylinder engine and a
choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. You also get the
ability to squeeze into the tightest parking spaces --
a sure way to earn the admiration of cute surfers.
4 Raise your hand
if you've never heard of a Mustang -- we thought so.
The Mustang's been around so long, most people forget
it's one of the best-selling convertibles in
the U.S. -- and one of the most fun to drive. The
four-seater starts at just $19,650, and the base V-6 engine
musters 26 mpg on the highway. The Pony package firms up the
base suspension, and color and trim options allow you
to go retro. But the best option is Ford's
1,000-watt Shaker audio system. If only high school
had been so cool.