10 Best Cars For Spring Sightseeing
DETROIT ( MainStreet) -- This spring's mix of 70- and 80-degree days in places usually contending with snow and high gas prices for travelers considering warm-weather road trips have drivers stuck in a seasonal slow lane.
A different car could help ease that congestion.
J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive are predicting total new vehicle sales for March will increase 7% from March 2011, to 1.08 million units. That would be the highest monthly volume in nearly two and a half years and would help increase total vehicle sales for the month to 1.37 million, or 6% more than last March.
This spring, however, not just any car will do. Through the first 18 days of March, compact and subcompact cars accounted for 23% of the vehicle market. That's the highest percentage since the "Cash For Clunkers" program began in 2009 and isn't entirely unexpected considering that the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. hovers around $3.87, or 30 cents more than it was a year ago.
If car buyers can somehow combine low fuel mileage with a good look at the blue skies and early hints of green around them, perhaps prices at the pump won't completely dampen their unseasonably warm spring days. We huddled with experts from automotive sites Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and TrueCar to come up with a garage full of cars that give drivers not only a convertible top or panoramic sunroof to enjoy on a warm spring day, but fuel efficiency to make sure their spring drive isn't cut short stopping for gas. The following 10 vehicles fit the bill quite nicely:
2012 Porsche Boxster
Starting price: $49,500
Top: Electric soft-top convertible
MPG: 20 city, 29 highway, 24.5 combined
Along with the Mazda Miata, the Porsche Boxter is the two-seat drop-top dream of any driver who's ever wanted a little toy to tool around in for the season.
With 265 horsepower that takes it from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds and a top speed around 165 miles per hour, the Boxster is unquestionably zippy. But pedestrian throw-ins such as a garage door opener and CD audio system with MP3 hookups look a whole lot better when paired with some significant trunk space for weekend trips.
"Because of its mid-engine design, this two seater has generous trunk space in front and back so two people can pack as much stuff as they want for a sunny getaway," says Brandy Schaffels, senior editor at TrueCar. "With 29 miles per gallon highway, they can drive as far as they want without going broke paying for gas."
2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Starting price: $23,470
Top: Soft convertible or optional hardtop convertible
MPG: 22 city, 28 highway, 24 combined
The Miata has been a retiree's dream car for some time, but it's starting to outpace dream cars well beyond its price range. Its 167-horsepower, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission isn't going to win many drag races, but it's giving the Porsche Boxter a good run for the money.