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7 fun-in-the-sun convertibles on the cheap

2012 Fiat 500c Pop
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2012 Fiat 500c Pop

Price: $20,500

Gas mileage: 27 mpg/32 mpg/29 mpg

Fiat claims there are 500,000 ways to personalize its little convertible. It's offered in 14 exterior colors, three top colors, two interior environments, and 12 seat and material combinations.

It seats four with 31.7 inches of rear-seat legroom. Cargo space is a tidy 5.4 cubic feet.

Pop is the entry-level 500c -- "c" stands for cabrio -- and when equipped with its standard five-speed manual transmission, costs just $19,500. Our 500c pick, though, has the optional six-speed driver-shiftable transmission ushering output from its 101-horsepower, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to the front wheels.

The power-operated top is actually a double-layered cloth section that folds back on itself, leaving the side-roof structure intact. It can be lowered or raised at speeds of up to 60 mph.

Among its standard features are full power accessories, seven air bags, air conditioning, heated outboard mirrors, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with redundant audio controls, trip computer, and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, auxiliary input jack, iPod integration and USB port.


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