10 Great Convertibles for This Summer

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- With temperatures rising and the sun sticking around longer, commuters shouldn't be spending their summer drive in a dark cabin built to withstand a blizzard.

And indeed, the sunroofs are sliding back and the windows are rolling down. Still, drivers who want to soak up the sun should cultivate more than just a farmer's tan this season.

We spoke with Brandy Schaffels, senior editor at car pricing site TrueCar, and put together a list of the top 10 convertibles on the market. If you're feeling cramped in your rolling cave, drop the top and step into the light:

2013 Jeep Wrangler
Starting price: $22,045
That loud, flapping soft top gets a lot quieter when you put it down. Chrysler's marketing team will be more than happy to remind you of this on May 19, its fifth annual Jeep Go Topless Day.

2013 Porsche 911 Cabriolet
Starting price: $109,400
Its six-figure price, 385-horsepower and 4.7-second zero-to-60 acceleration hide the fact that this sporty drop top's seats can carry four people as it cruises. Seriously, full-sized human beings fit in the back seats.

2013 Fiat 500C
Starting price: $19,500
The tiny, underpowered Italian toy comes with a faux-canvas retractable roof that stacks up like an automatic pool cover and turns any coastal town into an American Riviera.

2013 Mini Cooper
Starting price: $25,650
How much does Mini love letting the sunshine in? Enough to build a sunroof into its soft top and install an "Openometer" on the dash that counts the minutes you spend with the top down.

Mazda MX5 Miata
Starting price: $24,000
All the zip of a Porsche Boxter, but with better Consumer Reports reliability ratings and about half the price. Retirees call at "The Island Car."

2012 Audi R8 Spyder
Starting price: $127,000
The three-layer acoustic top keeps things quiet and retracts in 19 seconds at 31 miles per hour, which is practically idling for the R8's 430-horsepower V8 engine. Oh, and the headlights kill vampires.

2012 Chevrolet Camaro/2013 Ford Mustang
Starting price: $30,180 (Camaro), $27,200 (Mustang)
These both have V6 engines with around 300 horsepower and 30 mpg highway fuel efficiency, but summer strips and boulevards would be lined with them even if they didn't. Memorial Day brings out the old-school muscle cars.

2012 BMW 3 Series
Starting price: $47,600
The standard retractable hard top is a nice touch but, as luxury cars go, Schaffels says the 3 Series convertible is as safe a choice as wearing a blue shirt to the office. "The cliche convertible for those who don't want to think too hard and just want to go with the familiar choice," she calls them.

2012 Volkswsagen Eos
Starting price: $34,350
Volkswagen loaded the Eos with standard features such as leather heated seats, dual climate control and a touchscreen sound system, but the retractable hard top alone earns the asking price.

Mercedes-Benz SLK
Starting price: $42,500
This roadster's retractable hardtop is available as a standard steel roof or two panorama roof options: a tinted see-through panel, or an innovative electronically variable tinted panel. In Schaffels' words, it's "pure pimped-out performance."

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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