Luxury automakers had the convertible market mostly to themselves during the economic downturn, but that doesn’t make convertibles any less of a rich man’s game.
U.S. carbuyers pay an average of $94,408 for a high-end luxury car or $91,877 for a high-end performance car — based on Kelley Blue Book’s June transaction prices — but that might buy you a fixer-upper in the loftier tiers of the luxury vehicle market. Through the first month of this year, Ferrari (up 2.8%), Jaguar (88%), Maserati (29.1%), Bentley (82.8%), Rolls Royce (54.5%) and Porsche (3.2%) have all increased from last year, according to MotorIntelligence.
In years past, that end of the market was where you had to look for a convertible. Prior to the recession, convertibles were limited to Chrysler Sebring/200s, Jeep Wranglers or a higher-end luxury vehicle from BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz. Convertibles still cost more than their hard-top versions, but gas prices that are $2.26 a gallon. Even though they’re three cents higher per gallon than they were at this time last year, that isn’t enough to make luxury carbuyers reconsider convertibles..
With vehicle sales down 2.1% through June, according to MotorIntelligence, convertibles are starting to look more like a luxury. There are just six convertibles on the road today that are capable of 30 miles per gallon or more — and Tesla doesn’t make any of them.
With U.S. fuel efficiency standards closing in on toward a fleet-wide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, as the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated, more fuel-efficient vehicles have become both more plentiful and less expensive. The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold last year was 25.2 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. Convertibles by their very nature aren’t all that efficient, and their prices tend to be a bit higher than their coupe counterparts.
That said, if you’re going to splurge on one, you may as well go all the way. With help from the Environmental Protection Agency’s FuelEconomy.gov, we found 10 of the most luxurious convertibles that you can buy. Enjoy the sun, even if it’s from one of the multiple gas stations you’ll be stopping at during your summer road trip.