DETROIT (WWJ) - The sun is shining and the open road is calling -- it's the perfect time of year to round up your friends and take a road trip. But not just any road trip; you need to ride in style.
The editors from Kelley Blue Book's www.kbb.com compiled a list of the 10 Best Road Trip Convertibles that are out on the market right now.
Three decades ago, many industry experts predicted the end of the convertible. Citing safety and security concerns, insiders conspired to persuade car manufacturers to abandon this previously popular body style. However, history proved the naysayers wrong and these days we are in the midst of a ragtop renaissance.
"Say the words 'road trip' and for many people, one of the first images that pops into mind is top-down driving in the sun with wind blowing through your hair," Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for kbb.com, said in a release.
"This year there seem to be more great new convertible options than ever before, which is perfect for the start of the summer driving season," he continued.
Kbb.com's 10 Best Road Trip Cars of 2012:
10. 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Whether tracing sinuous back roads or circling simple freeway on-ramps, few cars can better transform those arcs into pure joy than the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The MX-5 is definitely diminutive, but it's the small size that helps eliminates distractions, helping it do the one thing all road trip cars should: magnify the joy of travel.
9. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro
What has 580 horsepower under the hood and a cloth top for a roof? No, it's not an exotic; it's the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible. And while listening to the sweet sound of supercharged V8 during a weekend getaway would be music to our ears, buyers can opt for a tamer Camaro Convertible with a V6 and listen to the Boston Acoustics sound system instead.
8. 2012 Audi TT
Distinctly styled and richly appointed, the 2012 Audi TT Roadster deftly balances sportiness and elegance while its snug-fitting power soft top and standard Quattro all-wheel drive help maintain appeal even when the sun isn't shining. Our favorite is the TTS version that bolsters the turbo 4-cylinder's horsepower from 211 to 265 and adds Audi's superb driver-selectable adaptive Magnetic Ride suspension.
7. 2012 BMW Z4
Of course it's a blast to drive, but it's the roof that solidifies the Z4's spot on this list of top road trip rides. Compared to a traditional cloth top, BMW's first-ever retractable hardtop delivers a quieter highway ride, greater outward visibility, and a top-up profile that rivals the classic beauty of the Z4 roadster's top-down shape.
6. 2012 Chevrolet Corvette
There are plenty of fine reasons to hit the road top down, not the least of which is a mid-life crisis. With more-than-abundant horsepower, stratospheric handling limits, look-at-me styling and a surprisingly livable highway ride, the Chevy Corvette might just be the unofficial car of existential crises.
5. 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The E-Class Cabriolet provides the sleek top-down style you expect from a convertible without compromising daily utility. While every convertible promises open-air fun in the sun, the E-Class' available Airscarf system warms the head and neck area of the driver and front passenger for supremely delightful top-down jaunts under the stars.
4. 2012 Ford Mustang
While it doesn't exactly have the supple ride qualities of a luxury cruiser, the Ford Mustang won't rattle your brains or bust any kidneys on a long haul. The convertible top gives this muscle car a lot of flexibility. Owners can cruise to the beach for some fun-in-the-sun-action, and then over to the drag strip to let out their inner beast. After all, whether you opt for the base 305-horsepower V6 or the 600-horse Shelby V8, this ragtop is a blast to drive in any situation.
3. 2012 Audi A5
Few convertibles meld style, refinement and performance into one package as beautifully as the A5 Cabriolet. Defying a trend, the A5 Cabriolet shuns a retractable hardtop in favor of an acoustically-designed soft top capable of exposing its sun-loving occupants to the elements that is deployable at sub-30-mph speeds.
2. 2012 BMW 6 Series
The biggest of BMW's four convertibles, the 6 Series is exceptionally well-suited for road trips that mix highway cruising, back-road bombing and five-star accommodations. A four-way adjustable suspension lets you instantly tailor the car to the road, and the latest 6 Series even makes it easy to keep up with friends and family via their Facebook and Twitter updates.
1. 2013 Porsche Boxster
King of the road-trip convertible contingent, the all-new 2013 Porsche Boxster and its more-intense Boxster S sibling expand on a legacy of dynamic brilliance while boasting even more power – 265 horsepower in the Boxster and 315 in the Boxster S – plus improved fuel economy. With bodywork inspired by the Carrera GT, the entry-level Porsche remains a sun-chaser's dream machine.
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