These affordable drop-tops come in quite a few flavors, from small, sporty two-seaters to SUVs with seating for five and off-road chops. There's a match for every lifestyle and budget, just as long as you want the wind in your hair.
If you love to drive and you're looking for a car that makes you feel connected to the road, start your search… with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Lively and engaging, the Miata is a joy to drive at any speed. You'll also like its fuss-free soft top and relatively affordable price.
$26,830 - $32,295
8.0 out of 10
29 - 30
If you love to drive and you're looking for a car that makes you feel connected to the road, start your search with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Lively and engaging, the Miata is a joy to drive at any speed. You'll also like its fuss-free soft top and relatively affordable price.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata RF takes one of the most engaging convertibles on the road and adds a folding hardtop for… more security, more insulation from outside noise and temperature, and a distinctive coupelike look.
$33,045 - $35,050
8.0 out of 10
29 - 30
The Mazda MX-5 Miata RF takes one of the most engaging convertibles on the road and adds a folding hardtop for more security, more insulation from outside noise and temperature, and a distinctive coupelike look.
The Mustang convertible is an impressive effort from Ford. Base Mustangs are accessible to a wide range of… drivers, and V8 models deliver pulse-quickening performance while maintaining enough civility for daily use.
$32,655 - $45,620
7.6 out of 10
The Mustang convertible is an impressive effort from Ford. Base Mustangs are accessible to a wide range of drivers, and V8 models deliver pulse-quickening performance while maintaining enough civility for daily use.
Luxury convertibles let you enjoy the open air in comfort while offering seating for up to five people and usable trunks. Expect lots of creature comforts and advanced technology features.
Look past the controversially styled grille and you'll find that the 4 Series convertible is actually pretty… pleasant and engaging to drive. The 430i has plenty of thrust to scoot around, and the six-cylinder of the M440i is truly special.
$53,300 - $66,200
7.9 out of 10
26 - 28
Look past the controversially styled grille and you'll find that the 4 Series convertible is actually pretty pleasant and engaging to drive. The 430i has plenty of thrust to scoot around, and the six-cylinder of the M440i is truly special.
There are plenty of fast, luxurious convertibles out there, and the BMW 8 Series is elevated even among this… illustrious competition. In its base form, the 8 Series is a fleet-footed and amiable cruiser that has no problem tackling a set of switchbacks. More powerful versions dial up the performance aspect even further.
$94,400 - $109,400
7.9 out of 10
19 - 25
There are plenty of fast, luxurious convertibles out there, and the BMW 8 Series is elevated even among this illustrious competition. In its base form, the 8 Series is a fleet-footed and amiable cruiser that has no problem tackling a set of switchbacks. More powerful versions dial up the performance aspect even further.
The LC 500 Convertible takes everything we loved about the LC Coupe and adds unlimited headroom without much… sacrifice. It's not the quickest or most powerful car in its class, but a silky smooth V8 and competent handling make it one of the most entertaining.
7.8 out of 10
The LC 500 Convertible takes everything we loved about the LC Coupe and adds unlimited headroom without much sacrifice. It's not the quickest or most powerful car in its class, but a silky smooth V8 and competent handling make it one of the most entertaining.
Exotic sport convertibles
These otherworldly convertibles are on the cutting edge of performance, putting handling and acceleration first and foremost. Exceptional attention to detail also sets them apart from the crowd.
Boasting motorsports-derived construction and a gloriously high-revving, naturally aspirated V10 that's… mounted behind the cabin, the Audi R8 ticks every box on the exotic car desirability checklist. It's also surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive.
$154,900 - $208,100
7.3 out of 10
16 - 17
Boasting motorsports-derived construction and a gloriously high-revving, naturally aspirated V10 that's mounted behind the cabin, the Audi R8 ticks every box on the exotic car desirability checklist. It's also surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive.
Edmunds' experts test 200 vehicles per year on our test track. We also test them using a 115-mile real-world test loop of city streets, freeways and winding canyons. The data we gather results in our ratings. They’re based on 30-plus scores that cover performance, comfort, interior, technology, utility and value.
MARK TAKAHASHI: Cars mean a lot of different things to different people. Personally, I prioritize fun over all else. But I also spend like a drunken sailor, so I can't really afford something like a C8 Corvette, or my dream car, a Mercedes AMG GT. My budget is closer to the average transaction price of 40 grand. So where does that leave me? Well hope is on the horizon because there's more fun choices under 40K than you think.
But before that, hit Like and Subscribe below, and head over to edmunds.com/sellmycar to get some cash so you can afford some of these bad boys.
Pony cars are pretty beefy these days. You get a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to horsepower. Seriously, guys? If you ask me though, it ain't a muscle car unless it has a V8. The Chevrolet Camaro SS is most certainly fun, and comes in just shy of our $40,000 limit. For the money, you get a 455 horsepower 6.2 liter V8, a six speed manual, sharp handling, and impressive acceleration. What you don't get is decent outward visibility. Seriously, it's like looking through a mail slot.
Now if you want the same thrills, but want to see where you're going, you should check out my favorite, Ford Mustang GT. It's a bit less expensive, too, which means you can even opt in the automatic transmission and stay under the $40,000 limit, unlike the Camaro. But seriously, you should learn to drive stick if you're going this route.
The Dodge Challenger RT, by comparison, is an elegant muscle car for a more civilized age. It's bigger and more comfortable, but it also makes less power than the Camaro or Mustang, and doesn't handle as sharply either.
[CAR ENGINE RUMBLING]
Like the Mustang, you can add the automatic transmission and stay under budget. And in this case, yeah, it kind of makes sense. Oh, and if you want the convenience of four doors, the Charger is essentially the same car. See? So you can have a family and still have fun.
If you're looking for something more new school than muscle car, we've got the latest batch of hot hatchbacks. Considering that these have the potential for much better fuel economy, they could even be better bets for those on a budget.
The Volkswagen GTI is all new for 2022, and is our current favorite. With 241 horsepower, zippy handling, and plenty of space for people and cargo, it's easy to see why. Now, we're not too hot on the new infotainment interface. And it's not quite as powerful as the next hatches on the list, but there is the Golf R that has more power and all wheel drive. But, it's disqualified for price.
The Honda Civic Type R is another great choice, but you better try and get one now. The Civic has been redesigned for 2022, and the new Type R is still a ways out. There are a handful of last Gen Type Rs out there, somewhere? It may look a little goofy, but the 306 horsepower output is a pretty solid apology.
The Hyundai Veloster N is a little more funky than goofy looking, and it should be a hell of a lot easier to find one for sale than the Civic. With 275 horsepower, it's not as punchy as the Honda. And the ride can be downright punishing at times. But for five grand less, you've got to expect some compromises somewhere, right?
And we have reviews and comparisons of all of these hatchbacks so you can see videos of those here, or here, or maybe here. By the way, if you're selling a Type R, hit me up in the comments below.
Now to our section about coupes, known to pedants and our friends across the pond as coupés. I can do this all day. And now, for the poster child. For motoring fun, the Mazda MX5 Miata. This pint size little drop top is just ridiculously fun to toss into corners, or go cruising, or just blast down the highway. It kind of does everything really well. As the only convertible on the list, the Miata is one of the purest cars out there.
Now, the specs and performance numbers may not be all that impressive, but I guarantee you, once you get in a Miata, it is the best way to inject dopamine straight into your noggin. What's better, even in the top trim, it comes in under $40,000.
For around the same money as the Miata, you can also get the redesigned 2022 Subaru BRZ, or its sister from another Mr., the Toyota GR 86. They're also on the weak side, but still potent enough to have some fun with. If I were to make one suggestion, it'd be to use the cheapest tires you could find because it's one of the easiest and funnest cars to drift at low speeds, not that we suggest that you actually drift though. Wink. Remember to drift responsibly, though, closed course, professional driving, all that stuff.
There are some honorable mentions to add, too. We've finally got a new Nissan Z on the way, and we're expecting it to start right in the 40 grand neighborhood. There's also a redesigned Subaru WRXTI over the horizon. And for less patient shoppers, the Mini John Cooper Works hardtop two door, and larger Kia Stinger, are worthy of consideration.
So there you have it. Maybe this wasn't the fun under 40 video you searched for-- don't want to know-- but, you can indeed have fun under 40 grand. Do you agree with my list? Are there any you think that deserve to be included that weren't on this list? Well, I don't care what you think. This is my video.
I kid. Let us know in the comments below, in your usual civilized tone. Thanks for watching. And don't forget to hit Like and Subscribe, and head over to edmunds.com for the latest news, reviews, and information on any of these vehicles.
Fun Cars Under $40K | Dodge Challenger, Mazda Miata, Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang & More
What are the most affordable fun cars under $40K? In this video, Mark Takahashi from Edmunds presents eight cars that will leave a smile on your face, be it at the track or on the way to the grocery store, plus a couple of honorable mentions, for under $40,000 MSRP. Mark’s got… American icons, like the Ford Mustang GT and Chevy Camaro SS, plus a few overseas offerings such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and VW GTI. So, if you’re on a budget but still want some fun and excitement from your next car, you’ve come to the right place. This is our Fun Cars Under $40K.
For delivering the kind of pure enjoyment that makes you want to get behind the wheel, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is our top-rated convertible. If you're looking for an open air cruiser with premium comfort and features, we recommend the BMW 4 Series. And for maximum performance, try the Porsche 911, our pick for the best high-end convertible sports car. Learn more
What is the top-rated convertible for 2019?
The Mazda Miata was already our top-rated convertible, but for 2019 it received a handful of tweaks that made it even better. It's not the most practical car, but the Miata received high marks for delivering pure driving enjoyment. 2019 was also the final year of the last generation Chevrolet Corvette, another Edmunds top-rated pick. We'll miss the convertible model's handling prowess, powerful V8, and available manual transmission. Learn more
What is the top-rated convertible for 2018?
In 2018, the Mazda Miata was our top-rated convertible for its pure, fun-to-drive character and no-fuss convertible roof. The Miata delivers affordable, accessible thrills. Our top-rated luxury convertible for 2018 was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, a comfortable drop-top big on comfort and technology features. A range of powerful engines are available to turn up the excitement. Learn more
What are the best used convertibles to buy?
Look for "CPO" or certified pre-owned vehicles if you're shopping for used convertible. Among lightly used minivans likely to be available via CPO programs, we like the Mazda Miata. The Miata is a small car that's big on driving enjoyment. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is our top pick for a used luxury convertible, and if you're looking for more power we recommend the Chevrolet Corvette. Learn more