Winter can’t stay around forever, despite what it feels like in most the United States; Old Man Winter eventually has to go and visit those south of the equator. That means that the roads will be clear, the ice will surrender to the sun and the blacktop will once again belong to the petrol heads! This means that it is time to break out the summer cars. These are the cars that shine the brightest in the summer on an open two lane road with nobody but the car, the driver and good music.
Dodge Challenger SRT: This car is by far the simpleton of the group. It isn’t the most sophisticated car in the group. It’s about as graceful as Sylvester Stallone dancing ballet. If it were featured in a yearbook it would receive the title: “Most likely to get into a fight.” You’ll max out at 23 mpg on the highway with it’s big burly V8. (Unless you drive like my grandmother.) That 6.4 V8 pumps out 470hp! It will knock you off your feet and remind you who’s boss on the road. Zero to sixty is under five seconds, and this monster can tackle the quarter mile in around 12 seconds! For a car that starts under $50k and weighs over two tons, that’s a lot of bang for the buck! Nothing can compare to driving a big, loud rear-wheel-drive car across an empty road in the middle of the desert. There’s a reason why Americans held on to their muscle cars until the price of fuel absolutely forced us to get rid of them. Besides, it makes you feel like you are in “Vanishing Point” when you drive it.
Good Alternative: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Convertible.
Why it didn’t make the list: Nearly $15,000 price difference.
Tesla Model S: I admit. I have a huge crush on this car. I’ll tell you why. It isn’t because I’m concerned about global warming (frankly, I’m all for the world getting warmer) or concerned about the o-zone. I don’t buy the special light bulbs or the reuseable grocery bags. It’s because I HATE buying gas!! I hate watching my hard earned cash being sucked out of my hand as the pennies, nickels and dimes add up on the pump. I’d just like to stick it to the gas pump and show him that I am not a slave to his price gouging wrath! As we all know, the Tesla Model S isn’t anything like the GM EV1, the Nissan Leaf or the Fisker Karma. Mostly because it’s a beautifully designed, practical electric car…and it’s fast. Very, very fast. The torque in this car is unbelievable! I primarily drive a diesel car, and it does produce a lot of torque; but nothing like this. I’m honestly surprised that it doesn’t come with a warning label that says, “Caution: May cause early wrinkling of face. Kenny Rogers should consult his plastic surgeon before driving!” Now the reason why it’s on the summer car list is because, as we all know, gas prices go up in the summer. The Tesla seems like the best car to combat that. And with the new coast to coast “Supercharger” network that Tesla has built. The long summer road trips that families adore, are possible without spending one dime on gasoline. Plus, it has enough room for the family with 2 and a half kids, plus the dog!
Good Alternative: Toyota Prius V
Why it didn’t make the list: Nowhere near as cool as the Tesla. Still requires pesky fossil fuels.
Volkswagen Beetle R Convertible: The days of the girly Beetle are over! Gentlemen, when Volkswagen designed the newest Beetle they were thinking of you. With styling hinting back to the early Porsche years, this car appeals to both the petrol heads and the social butterflies. Anybody who just wants a fun, fast and inexpensive German car. With it’s 210 hp 2.0L turbocharged motor, this car is no slouch. It gets to 60mph in less than seven seconds. While still kissing the 30 mpg mark. Obviously that isn’t as quick as something like the Challenger. But for a car with just a 4-cylinder motor, that’s pretty dang quick. And the sport tuned suspension is just the icing on the cake. With the R-line you also get some unique styling. Including trim, rims and badging; as well as several other things throughout the car. The Beetle R-line’s price does start a bit farther north than it’s competitors (~$30,000). But it doesn’t feel as small and condensed as it’s rivals. For that it takes the spot on the list.
Good Alternative: Mazda Miata
Why it didn’t make the list: Feels small compared to the Beetle. No turbo option. No rear seat.
Jeep Wrangler: What kind of summertime car list would this be without the Wrangler? With it’s nearly 300 hp V6 motor and drastically improved cosmetics and build quality, the Wrangler is better than it has ever been! There is just something about driving a Jeep with the top off on a summer evening. The back loaded up with friends and everybody is just having a good time. There is something just, so American about it. Something patriotic. It’s the vehicle that liberated Europe from the Nazis. For my family, the Jeep has been something that has helped us bond over the years. Annually we make a trip to central Idaho and spend a week climbing the mountains with our Jeeps. Visiting many of the beautiful, pristine, crystal clear lakes that the Idaho mountains keep hidden. Of course, the Wrangler has changed dramatically since then; but it still embodies the spirit of it’s automotive ancestors. More people like the 4-door version, but I actually prefer the 2-door. It just looks and feels more like a Jeep should. It feels easier to maneuver around, feels more compact and you don’t lose very much space. In addition, you save around $3000 off the price of the 4-door. The off road capabilities of the Jeep have always been legendary. And even now, though it has been a bit domesticated, the Wrangler always make off-road bliss it’s number one priority. I realize that Chrysler is now an Italian owned company, but with the Jeep they still capture the spirit of the brand and the American heritage it carries with it.
Good Alternative: Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Why it didn’t make the list: Roof isn’t removeable. $5k price difference. Low visibility.
Volvo C70 Convertible: This car is a very interesting creation for Volvo. It is an incredibly safe convertible. The last sentence just made Ralph Nader nauseous, I can feel it. It is an interesting car to drive. The sides of the car go up over you shoulder protecting you from anything that could possibly harm you in an accident. If you look closely you can see that Volvo has shoved airbags into every nook and cranny of the car. Yet it is easy to see out of and good fun to drive, even though you can tell that it is a very heavy car. This is a fantastic Grand Touring car for those who like plenty of room, safety and the open sky above their heads. Shorter than average adults should fit comfortably in the back with ease, and you can assure that the passengers in the back will have the same degree of safety as the ones in the front. Even with the metal origami roof safely tucked away in the trunk, the Volvo still gives you a workable amount of space for trunk use. Unfortunately, the road has come to an end for the C70. Volvo has announced that it will be ending production after the 2013 model year, but it is still possible to buy a new C70 from a Volvo dealership. So, narrowly, it makes the list.
Good Alternative: Mercedes E350 Cabriolet.
Why it didn’t make the list: $15,000 more expensive! Soft-top only.