There's no experience that can match a drive in a convertible. With the wind in your hair, the sun on your face and no metal roof between you and all the great sights this country has to offer, we can think of no finer way to travel. Today's convertibles are better than ever: Modern soft tops feature multilayer insulation to keep out weather and road noise, while retractable hardtops seal up as tight as a steel-roof coupe. Most convertibles now feature power-operated tops, dispensing with fiddly tonneau covers and knuckle-scraping latches. All in all, the convertibles you can buy right now give up little in terms of comfort, practicality and convenience to hardtop coupes.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Mazda Miata: Mazda's plucky two-seat roadster is a driver's delight. Light in weight and exceptionally well-balanced, it races through corners with unbridled enthusiasm and responds instantly to the driver's commands. The Miata is one of the few convertibles to offer a manual top, but it's so small and light that most people can open and close it with one hand, right from the driver's seat. New this year is the Miata RF, a retractable hardtop with a sharp-looking coupelike profile. The rear pillars stay in place when the top is down, providing extra protection from wind buffeting. Interior and trunk space are tight, but if you can fit comfortably into the Miata's nicely trimmed cabin, it'll give you a lot to smile about. The Miata is one of the best driving convertibles on this list.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Ford Mustang: The Ford Mustang is extraordinarily popular as a rental car, something obvious in the chintzy interior of Mustangs from the not-too-distant past. The current iteration, introduced last year, feels more like a Mustang you own as opposed to a Mustang you rent, thanks to its greatly improved cabin, long list of technology features and a more sophisticated independent rear suspension. The Mustang can be had with a four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine that offers plenty of power, but we think the 435-horsepower V8 engine found in the Mustang GT is the way to go. Not only is it quick, but its muscle-car rumble is more in keeping with the Mustang's character and classic styling. A cramped back seat makes traveling four difficult, but the Mustang's modern-day take on a classic American convertible gives it undeniable appeal.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 BMW 2 Series: Compromise, in most cases, is a good thing, and we like the compromise that the 2 Series makes: It offers the sharp handling we expect from bigger BMWs like the 4 Series in a smaller package that makes it easy to dart through traffic and squeeze into small parking spaces. The 2 Series' biggest drawback is a back seat too small for most adults. We know some folks wish the 2 Series had the same retractable hardtop as the 4 Series, but we think the multilayer cloth roof does an acceptable job of keeping out road noise, plus it folds quickly and takes up less space in the trunk. Both versions of the 2 Series get new engines this year; the M230i gets a power bump to 248 hp, and the M240i now has 335 hp and a standard-fit M Sport adaptive suspension.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 BMW 4 Series: The BMW 4 Series is the benchmark for the sport luxury coupe-and-convertible market, and a quick test drive will show you why: Its luxury and convenience features are hard to beat, but it's the engaging driving experience that really sets the BMW apart from the competition. Even the base model 430i, with its freshly updated four-cylinder turbocharged engine, provides strong performance, but there's more to this car than straight-line speed. We love the 4 for its sharp handling, comfortable ride and posh, roomy interior. The 4 Series features a retractable metal hardtop; it takes up a considerable amount of trunk space when folded down, but with the top in place the 4 Series looks and feels like any other steel-roof coupe.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Chevrolet Corvette: Part sports car, part American institution, the Corvette has long stood out for being an incredible bargain, offering blistering performance and world-class handling at a ridiculously low price. Base-model Corvettes blast to 60 mph in the low-4-second range and deliver 19 mpg, while the Z06 delivers 650 supercharged horsepower and a true supercar driving experience. If you want a European exotic that can keep up with the Corvette, you'll have to spend two to four times as much. The trade-off for the Corvette's deep-discount price has traditionally been cheap interior fittings, but the current seventh-generation model addresses that complaint quite nicely. Convertible Corvettes are practical and comfortable and make great daily drivers, particularly if you opt for the outstanding adaptive suspension.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Some convertibles on this list are built to thrill, but the E-Class Cabriolet was created to coddle. Few cars can match the opulence of the E's interior, but there's more to the cabin design than luxury. High side windows, a rear wind deflector and the Aircap — a wind deflector that rises from the top of the windshield — minimize top-down turbulence, so even after a long drive in the open air, E-Class owners arrive looking classy and coiffed. Heated front seats and the Airscarf system, which blows warm air on your neck, make for a comfy and somewhat romantic experience on cool nights. Build quality, safety and ride comfort are all top-notch, just as we expect from Mercedes-Benz. A new E-Class Cabriolet is on the way for 2018, but the 2017 model is still a lovely ride.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster: With a fresh redesign for the 2017 718 Boxster, Porsche has taken one of our favorite convertibles and made it even better. With its fast-opening top, razor-sharp suspension and midmounted engine (which helps optimize the car's balance to improve handling), the 718 Boxster is simply one of the best-driving convertibles you can buy. The engines are brand-new and consist of a pair of turbocharged four-cylinders providing either 300 or 350 horsepower. Power and fuel economy are impressive, though we do miss the wail of the previous generation Boxster's flat-six. Bear in mind that Porsche offers a lot of extra-cost options, which will balloon the price, but you don't need to pop for a top-of-the-line model to enjoy the brilliance of the Porsche 718 Boxster.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Jaguar F-Type: If we were to design a weekend car from scratch, chances are we'd come up with something very much like the Jaguar F-Type. It's hard to say which we like better: the F-Type's handsome looks or its brilliant driving characteristics, the latter heralded by a choice of powerful supercharged V6 and V8 engines. The F-Type's two-mode exhaust is an aural treat, howling like a wild animal in its less restrictive mode. The F-Type's thickly insulated soft top raises and lowers quickly and doesn't restrict trunk space. That said, there isn't much trunk space to restrict; cargo capacity is paltry even by convertible standards. But point us down an open road and give us a chance to run the F-Type through the gears, and we find it easy to forget its foibles. The F-Type is one of those cars that is nearly impossible not to like.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Porsche 911: The 911 has achieved legendary status, and kudos to Porsche for making the real-life experience live up to the hype. As a sports car, the 911 excels, enhanced by the addition of Porsche Active Suspension Management, which is standard equipment for 2017. The 911 also stands out as a luxury convertible, with a high-luxe (and highly customizable) interior and a power-deployed wind deflector that keeps the cabin serene at cruising speeds. This year, the 911 is enhanced by a new line of turbocharged engines, all of which add power and economy, and Porsche's PDK automatic transmission is among the best in the business. The Porsche 911 is expensive, but every time you drive it you'll remember that you paid for — and got — the best.
Why Edmunds Recommends the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class: The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL practically oozes opulence; turning up in one automatically labels you a VIP. But the SL doesn't just impress outsiders: This two-seater stands apart with its stylish interior and handy retractable hardtop. Features such as Airscarf and the Magic Sky Control variable-tint panoramic roof allow you to fine-tune the driving experience, and the roomy trunk comes in handy, though lowering the top eats up a lot of cargo space. A choice of turbocharged V6, V8 and V12 engines ensures that you have no lack of power under your right foot. The high-end AMG models are not quite as agile as some of their direct competitors, but when it comes to pure image, nothing wows the crowds like the Mercedes-Benz SL.