Introduced at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, the Pontiac Solstice took the nation by storm as its leading roadster between 2005 and 2009. Pontiac's first two-seat car after the Fiero, the Solstice was nominated for 2006's North American Car of the Year. The Pontiac Solstice is available as either a two-door coupe or two-door convertible, utilizing a 2.4-liter, 2.0-liter or urbocharged 260-horsepower engine across all trims - and across every model year.
The Solstice, although discontinued in 2009, is a fantastic town-cruising vehicle for adventurers and road-lovers alike. One of the used market's leading convertibles, the Solstice still excels within the industry due to its sleek design.
The Solstice's release in mid-2005 greatly took after its 2002 concept design. The Solstice's production, having run well before 2005, experienced several delays as its Wilmington plant location prioritized volume production throughout the year's fourth quarter.
In 2009, the Solstice's hard-top targa model was released. Using the GM Kappa platform, Pontiac yet again enhanced the Solstice's running power and interior comfort. Several other additions met the Solstice along its development, including:
In every year, the Solstice benefited from its classic performance setup, yet satellite radio and internal electronics outfitted Pontiac's newest Solstice releases until its 2009 discontinuation.
Across all years, the Solstice benefits from a durable, hand-welded exterior. Its labor-intensive frame, while decisive, may feel stiff to some. The Solstice is, however, incredibly quiet on the road. It doesn't benefit from common weight-saving measures exclusive to most Corvettes. In fact, most Solstices weigh approximately 2,888 pounds.
Yet the Solstice succeeds as a roadster, driving gracefully between each gear. As part of the four-cylinder family, the Solstice's five-speed manual drive reduces throws between shifts, operating faithfully on the road. Some drivers may notice its lacking "directness," however. While the Solstice handles well, its corner-carving capabilities are limited by the driver's capacity to conduct heel-to-toe maneuvers.
Sports car lovers can expect high-value options on every Solstice level. The great-looking, two-door top-down coupe or convertible will be equipped with a standard 177-horsepower, four-cylinder 2.4-liter engine on standard trims. For this reason, it's nominally worthwhile if power is a primary consideration.
Value-wise, the Pontiac Solstice is similar to the Saturn Sky. Drivers can expect to find a Solstice for around $20,000 used, which isn't far from its new-yet-discontinued price tag. Commonly purchased as a fun city cruiser, the Solstice may not be an ideal family car. Its value exists in its road-gripping wheels. Replacements may be costly, however, as discontinued parts-while still cheap-may be sold from back-stock locations.
While all Solstice versions offer unique and entertaining handling, they may fail in performance when compared to a Mazda Miata, Honda S2000 or similar. The Solstice's hard-touched, hand-crafted exterior is swell, yet its interior design suffers. Pontiac's interiors are historically created from cheap materials, and the Solstice from its lack storage space.
Visibility is surprisingly good in the Solstice, making performance capable and safe. Drivers opting for the 2008 Solstice's Club Sport package are in luck too, as its upgraded suspension is one of the Solstice's hallmarks across all years. Design-wise, the Solstice is-at the end of the day-a sport roadster.
Base Solstice models pack a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. While the engine utilizes an aluminum block, variable valve timing, and duel overhead cam-shafts, it may be lacking in the roadster arena. The Solstice's slow-to-rev nature isn't necessarily bad, however, as it offers excellent off-road control. Across all trims, the Solstice is available with the following powertrain and engine options, maintaining the Solstice's standardized 2.4-liter engine.
Each engine option benefits from the Solstice's 50/50 front-and-rear weight balance and independent suspension. In four-wheel drive, the Solstice handles well, offering the quick-zip control sports car lovers idealize.
Over the years, the Solstice has received numerous tweaks and upgrades. On the interior comfort end, the Solstice's inclusion of the following helped it surpass leading alternatives:
The Solstice's exterior is its mainstay, inspired by America's sports car peak. Packing a long hood, clean corners, and a short rear deck, the Solstice is slim, tight, and controllable. Its rear-hinged trunk lid accepts top folding, and its integrated cargo space, too, is a benefit. Inside, the Solstice's cockpit angles controls towards the driver. Motorcycle-inspired buttons and gauges, of course, are part of every Solstice package.