Which convertible is reliable and inexpensive?

I’m looking for a convertible that is reliable and not super expensive. I like the Chrysler Sebring, but that was awful. I will never own one again — beautiful car but bad engine.

Connie, Cumming, Ga.

To us, inexpensive means under $20,000, and the only convertible you are likely to drive off the lot at that price is the Smart ForTwo, which we wouldn’t recommend based on its performance or its reliability record. Upping the spending limit to $30,000 increases your choices among convertibles to include the Ford Mustang (V-6 versions), Mazda MX-5 Miata, Fiat 500c, Mini Cooper and the Chrysler 200, the successor to the Sebring.


Of those, two that stand out for quality and reliability are the Mustang and Miata. The Mustang is a nominal four-seater with a standard power top, and the Miata is a two-seater available with either a manual soft-top or power retractable hardtop.

The Mustang — the entire line, not just the V-6 convertible — had the fewest problems among midsize sporty cars in the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, and the Miata had the fewest among compact sporty cars. The Initial Quality Study measures problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership.

J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study, which counts problems during the third year of ownership, is a better measurement of reliability. Neither the Mustang nor the Miata scored at the top in the 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study, but both were best in class in the 2011 study.

You will have more choices if you’re willing to spend more than $30,000, so we suggest you use the Cars.com Vehicle Recommender to help you find candidates that meet your price point and other criteria.

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Answered by Rick Popely on December 31, 2012 in What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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