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April 7, 2013

With spring comes convertible season

Spring has sprung, and with it comes the promise of warmer weather — and convertibles.

Surprisingly, most drop-tops cost little more than a plebeian family sedan or bland crossover SUV. Better yet, most affordable convertibles are iconic nameplates, offering looks that are sure to resonate with you.

Here are test drives I did on drop tops at or below $31,000 — about the average price of a new car.

So grab your sunblock and shades. It’s time to go for a spin.

2013 Chevrolet Camaro: Yes, you can get a Camaro with a V-8 and as much as 580 horsepower, but that will double the price and requires pricey premium fuel. Given our congested arteries, most drivers will find the V-6 a perfect solution. With 323 horsepower, there’s plenty of power without extreme thirst — the EPA rates it at 29 mpg on the highway. Its handling and style will impress you, even on rainy days. Visibility, however, is impaired with the roof up. Base price: $30,660.

2013 Chrysler 200: The 200 is a rarity: a true midsize convertible that comfortably seats four adults and can hold as much as 13 cubic feet of luggage. There are two power tops offered: a body-color steel hardtop or a cloth soft top. Either can be retracted remotely via a key fob. Power comes from a 283-hp V-6 or a 173-hp four-cylinder engine. For 2013, Chrysler revised the suspension for improved handling. Base price: $27,100.

2013 Fiat 500C: If you’re a single guy who wants to catch a woman’s eye, opt for the Fiat 500. Seriously. This little mouse attracts the attention of women by the bucketful. That said, it’s best for women to note that it doesn’t attract guys — it’s as cuddly as a basket of puppies. There’s plenty of front seat room, while the interior’s clever design hides the inexpensive nature of the materials. And its roof can be partially opened like a sunroof. Base price: $19,500.

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