Summer is just about here. Dreams of road trips occupy our minds. But what cars are best for summer? Is it smart to buy the first convertible you see or are there other things to consider?
Let’s make a few assumptions: A summer car must be capable of delivering a fun driving experience, long distance comfort, decent fuel economy and enough luggage space for you and your companions. Bonus points for safety, reliability, and style.
Don’t wait – winter is coming, as they say in the Seven Kingdoms. Check out our list of 10 Best Cars for Summer, and start shopping now.
2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR AWD Convertible
This one is a no-brainer. If you can get your hands on a 2017 Jaguar F-TYPE SVR Convertible for the summer, latch on and don’t let go. Sure, it will burn your bank balance with its $128,800 base price. But you won’t care, driving around, top down, savoring the exhaust notes from the 575-hp supercharged V8 with all-wheel drive. The perfect car for a weekend getaway, F-Type Convertible loves to romp around twisty roads, lope along highways and gallop down the back roads. F-Type is one of the most gorgeous roadsters ever built and is all-day comfortable for two very lucky people: Its driver and its driver’s favorite companion.
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
In contrast with cozy convertibles, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack confounds expectations with a roomy interior concealed within compact dimensions. Standard 4MOTION all-wheel drive and a tall suspension setup encourage off-road exploration. Add an optional bike holder attachment kit ($537) or kayak attachment kit ($531), and you’re set for adventure. Just don’t overdo it on the roof, or you’ll block the view through the standard (SE and SEL) panoramic sunroof, which brings the world inside visually while maintaining safety and weather protection. The Alltrack is rugged without the rough edges, and capable without resorting to SUV size or styling. It’s a great choice for an active summer car.
2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Hot on the heels of its makeover for 2016, another Miata model has been added for the new year. The new 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF replaces the traditional convertible soft top with a retractable targa-style roof that transforms the car’s appearance from roadster to mini supercar. Retracting the RF’s roof takes just 13 seconds, and doesn’t take up any more cargo space than the soft top. The RF looks great either way – hard top in place, or retracted – and is as quiet as an enclosed car when things are buttoned up. Did we mention that it’s a Miata, and so it’s perfectly balanced and fun to drive in a wide variety of environments and uses? Well, it is.
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid
In the crowded field of midsize sedans, the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid stands out as one of the most attractively designed cars. Summer is about looking your best, and you’ll look classy stepping out of an Optima. You’ll look smart, too, because the Hybrid version of Kia’s sedan is rated to achieve 36 mpg city/46 mpg highway/42 mpg combined, which means that you can do much more summer driving without breaking the bank. Inside, the Optima’s cabin can be loaded up with tech and convenience features. A panoramic sunroof is standard, bringing in views of nature while still providing protection from the elements. If you can’t make a roadster work for you, Optima Hybrid still gives you access to the freedom of the open road.
2017 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, a family road trip meant loading up the station wagon and hitting the highway, lumbering down the road. Times have changed, but the wagon still retains that air of adventure. The 2017 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon updates the family road trip to the current day, replacing the lumbering wagon with a taut, sharp-handling vehicle that combines good looks with cargo capacity. Choose between the 330i xDrive Sports Wagon with a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine and the 328d xDrive Sports Wagon with a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine, and enjoy the standard all-wheel drive – something that the wagons of old never even dreamed of offering for summer driving excitement.
2017 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible
For over fifty years now, nothing says summer like a Mustang convertible. Drop the top on a 2017 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible, and every summer drive will feel like a cruise down the California coastline. Listen to the growl of that 5.0-liter V8 engine. Snick through the gears of the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Feel the grip of the P235 tires on the standard 18-inch wheels. Snuggle in to the leather front bucket seat with 6-way power adjustment. Slide a Beach Boys CD into the standard 9-speaker stereo system, and set a course with the help of your smartphone and SYNC 3 infotainment system. Now we’re talking Summer 2017.
2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet
Mercedes-Benz offers five unique convertible models, any of which might have made our list of best cars for summer. But the winner is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet. Unique among drop tops, the S-Class has a sumptuous back seat for two that even the most comfort-oriented adult will not reject. While the stately S-Class sedan is a formal expression of success and power, the showy S-Class Cabriolet says, “I’m here to party.” It is an over-the-top rolling roar of exuberance, the very essence of a summer car. You can even augment its appearance with the addition of Swarovski crystal accents to the headlamps. If that doesn’t proclaim “summer” to you, you’ve never listened to LMFAO.
2017 Porsche 718 Boxster
Porsche purists point to the 911 as the finest expression of driving excellence, but that misses the mark when it comes to the best cars for summer. The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster claims that crown with its fun-to-drive character, swoopy design, and lack of attitude. Order your Boxster in a special color like Lava Orange ($2,580), and you’ll have an eye-popping summer fun magnet for two.
The Boxster’s mid-engine layout delivers roller-skate handling and maneuverability, and the lusty turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder engine will zing you to the beach in no time flat. Summer has never been more fun than it is in a Boxster.
2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid
American luxury is back in the form of the 2017 Cadillac CT6 PLUG-IN Hybrid, and summer is the perfect time to explore its return. In its heyday, Cadillac made big, floaty sedans that specialized in plush interiors and cushy suspensions. The CT6 is a new kind of luxury – a modern interpretation of the sedan, packed with technology. A tailored interior redefines what a Cadillac can be, providing an environment that is crisp and clean rather than overstuffed and mushy. The standout technology, of course, is the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which allows for modest electric-only range, improved performance, and efficiency. Operation is transparent and worry free, and perfect for summer.
2017 Ferrari California T
Perhaps you’ve just closed the deal of a lifetime, selling your Tan Finder app to Google for a billion dollars. Or maybe you’re entering the summer season with a few extra hundred grand burning a hole in your bank account. Why not treat yourself to the ultimate summer car, the 2017 Ferrari California T? Unlike the fiddly mid-engine exotics, the California T is a classic-looking front-engine/rear-wheel drive roadster with classic proportions and timeless, sculptural beauty. Best of all, when summer is over, you’ll be able to spend quality time in your garage admiring your Ferrari. It’s a true work of art that spans the seasons.