Yes, you can put your car's roof down without making all of your gas money blow away.
We're still amazed that, not so long ago in the post-recession U.S., someone buying a convertible was limited to Chrysler Sebring/200, a Jeep Wrangler or a considerably more expensive vehicle from BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz. The convertible is still more costly and a bit more frivolous than its hard-top competitors, but it's still the vehicle a whole lot of buyers start looking at when the spring temperatures make their first appearance.
In 2014, the folks at TrueCar took a look at convertible buying habits and found that drivers in California, Florida, Texas, New York and New Jersey are the biggest fans of the optional tops. However, in more wintry states, including Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and Idaho, the convertible gets a short season and isn't a particularly great buy.
If you're in a region with long stretches of warm, sunny weather that justify a convertible's premium price and relative inefficiency, it's not such a splurge. However, it's also helps to have an address in one of the nation's richer states if you're considering ditching the day-to-day hard top.
Still, for car buyers 35 to 54 years old and nearly 40% of the female car-buying public, the convertible has a certain allure to it -- even if it still isn't the most efficient vehicle on the road. There are exactly four convertibles on the road today that are capable of 30 miles per gallon or more. Also, unless you managed to get your hands on an old Fisker Karma convertible, there's exactly one all-electric convertible out there -- and Tesla isn't responsible for it.
With EPA-mandated fuel efficiency standards at 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 across a company's fleet in the U.S., more fuel-efficient vehicles have become both more plentiful and less expensive. The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the in August was 25.3 mpg, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. That's still less than halfway to the EPA and Department of Transportation's goal that they set back in 2012, but it beats the roughly 19 miles per gallon that the Department of Transportation measured for the same pool of vehicles in 1995. It's also closing in on double the average mileage of the light-duty vehicles on U.S. roads in 1980. Here are just ten convertibles that are helping the category catch up:
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.