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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Volkswagen: The VW Beetle Convertible is going away again after 2019, so get one quick, reviewer Casey Williams says.

  • Courtesy Mazda: The Mazda MX-5 RF's power retractable roof is the one to get, reviewer Casey Williams says.

  • Courtesy Mercedes-Benz: The Mercedes-Benz SLC transforms from a closed coupe to an open convertible with the press of a switch, reviewer Casey Williams says.

Friday, July 12, 2019 4:10 pm

Review: Enjoy sunny skies in these classy rides

CASEY WILLIAMS | Special to The Journal Gazette

Summer driving is the best, especially beneath the open sky of a convertible.

Whether manual or automatic, hard or insulated cotton, having a top that disappears brings joy to warm evenings. From affordable to extravagant, here are classics that will have you in awe of breezy rides.

VW Beetle Convertible: It's going away again after 2019, so get one quick. Classically cute, it looks best in Safari Uni beige or Stonewashed Blue with unique final-edition wheels, diamond-stitched seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. A power top, push-button starting and Bluetooth add convenience, while crisp Fender audio and automatic climate control enhance comfort. Step into the peppy 2-liter turbo-four's 174 horsepower and frugal 26/33 MPG city/highway fuel economy. A blind-spot monitor and cross path detection come standard. Base price: $25,995.

Mazda MX-5 RF: Get in touch with your soul. The classic soft top deploys in seconds, but the RF's power retractable targa roof is the one to get. Once deployed, rev up the 181 horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder engine and click through six speeds with a delightful shifter. Handling is divine. Fuel economy of 26/35 MPG city/highway goes easy on the budget. Inside, classic gauges, Bose audio, automatic climate control, navigation and heated seats dress it up. Rear fenders add appeal, but you'll pack light because the trunk is best suited for gym bags. Base price: $32,345.


Jeep Wrangler: Rip off your top, flex your muscles and head for the trails. Not you, the Jeep. Recently redesigned, a new soft top replaces the previous erector set and deploys in seconds. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and classic gauges invite fun that's backed by the choice of a 285 horsepower V-6 or 270 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine with eTorque hybrid, the latter best for hard-core off-roading. A diesel option is imminent. Lock in four-wheel-drive, strap in and head for the trails -- whether rugged dirt or paved to shop. Base price: $27,945.


Mercedes-Benz SLC: Here's your classic Mercedes roadster fully realized. The SLC transforms from a closed coupe to open convertible with the press of a switch. Choose the glass roof with Magic Sky Control to electrically adjust tinting. Get it with a 241 horsepower turbo-four or 385 horsepower biturbo V-6. Flash 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds (V-6). Being a Mercedes, it's built safe with built-in roll bars, active brake assist and blind-spot warning. In spring or fall, crank up the Air Scarf and stay cozy with your special someone. Base price: $48,950.

Casey Williams is an Indianapolis automotive journalist. Contact Casey at, follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.