2008 Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang has been an automotive icon ever since it was introduced in 1964. With muscle car styling, the 2008 pony is sure to turn heads wherever it gallops. It even seats four and has a fair amount of trunk room -- making it practical enough to take on road trips to the beach. But be warned: if you want real Mustang power, you'll need to upgrade from its base V6 engine to the killer V8. (MSRP: $24,315 - $32,085)

MINI Cooper

2008 MINI Cooper

While drop-tops like the Mustang and Solstice are sexy, the Cooper has the face of a pug. Still, its one-of-a-kind throwback design garners plenty of attention. Best of all, its convertible top -- which can be operated using the car's key fob -- can fold midway, making a sunroof. But keep this tiny car's shortcomings in mind: critics find the cockpit's controls complicated, the back seat best suited for children, and complain that it requires premium gasoline. (MSRP: $21,950 - $25,400)

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Forget retro, the 2008 PT Cruiser goes old school with its 1930s-inspired exterior. In fact, the PT's unique styling has always been its biggest draw. But while some reviewers find that its convertible top infuses it with some much-needed youthfulness, others criticize its basket handle-like "sport bar" (think non-functioning roll-bar). Even so, the PT remains an attractive choice for its roomy four-passenger cabin and lively four-cylinder engine. (MSRP: $18,430 - $18,430)

Smart Fortwo

2008 Smart Fortwo

If standing out is your thing, the Smart Fortwo convertible might just be a perfect fit, assuming you can fit in its tiny cabin. Despite a weak powertrain and need for premium gasoline, the fuel-efficient Fortwo offers a practical solution for navigating crowded city streets and beach towns. Cruising on the highway, however, is another story. (MSRP: $11,590 - $13,590)

 

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

Though it looks sporty, test drivers say the Eclipse Spyder is definitely not a sports car. Still, it's attractive and features an easy-to-operate power convertible ragtop -- making it an ideal summertime cruiser. What's more, its cabin features cool gizmos and impressive fit and finish. Its backseat, however, is cramped. While the Spyder's MSRP exceeds $25K and therefore doesn't quite fit on this list, Edmunds' "True Market Value" reveals that the average price paid is $24,804. (MSRP: $25,699 - $29,599) 

Jeep Wrangler

2008 Jeep Wrangler

Originally designed for WWII combat, the Wrangler has since become an American classic. Though it's unlikely to command as much attention as a Solstice, it's sure to leave adventure seekers envious of its off-road prowess and convertible soft or hard tops -- which allow for drivers to choose between different levels of sun exposure. Still, don't expect much luxury or on-road refinement. (MSRP: $18,660 - $29,535)

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Available with either a manual-folding soft top or power-folding hardtop, the MX-5 Miata is a budget-laden sport enthusiast's dream. Small and sleek, it combines powerful mechanics with superb handling dynamics to create the ultimate roadster experience. Even so, test drivers complain that its cabin is cramped and it offers little storage space --  so pack a towel instead of a beach chair and enjoy. (MSRP: $20,585 - $27,860)

Pontiac Solstice

2008 Pontiac Solstice

Sharing a platform with the costlier Saturn Sky, the Solstice combines entertaining performance with jaw-dropping style. As sexy as it is, however, test drivers complain that its manual-folding convertible top is a pain to operate -- requiring several steps that vehicles like the Miata don't. Worse still, the Solstice offers little cargo room and some critics find its interior appointments unrefined. If interested, however, be sure to splurge for the more powerful GXP trim and pay extra for options -- including (gasp!) air-conditioning. (MSRP: $22,165 - $27,845)

 

Volkswagen New Beetle

Despite its German heritage, the Beetle's peculiar design has always been an American favorite. This year's model features a standard manual or optional semi-automatic folding soft top, which is perfect for good ol' fashioned fun-in-the-sun cruising. And though reviewers complain that its backseat is cramped, it's the perfect size for a couple flower children. (MSRP: $23,240 - $25,740)

Chrysler Sebring

In addition to a roomy four-passenger cabin, the attractive Sebring offers decent cargo space and three power-retractable top options (including a hard top!) -- which may make it the most practical convertible on this list. Still, test drivers aren't impressed with its performance, leading many to conclude that the Sebring's better suited for leisurely rides than anything else. Like the Eclipse Spyder, the Sebring's MSRP exceeds $25K. However, according to Edmunds' "True Market Value," the average price paid is $24,146. (MSRP: $25,840 - $32,055)

For a closer look at these beauties, check out our slideshow.

See how all affordable convertibles stack up in the U.S. News convertible rankings.