Sayonara Solara - What do I get next?

solaraman2003solaraman2003 Member Posts: 92
edited August 2014 in Toyota

My 2008 Solara SLEv6 is the sweetest. She's been so good to me over the years. Never complained, low maintenance, never cried, never wanted for much. She never asks me to spend money on her. She has always been very contented and the perfect companion.

Well, unfortunately I feel it might be time for us to break up :(

As you are aware, 2008 was the last year for the coupe, and having had a 2000 and 2003, I just had to get a hold of one of these gals before they were gone. So in 2009 I found a 2008 all alone just waiting for me to take her home.

I have had ZIPPO problems with her since the beginning. I'm very big on preventive maintenance, and so keeping her purring like a top was not that hard at all. Brakes, regular oil changes, tire rotations and replacement (once). The most expensive 'repair' that I had was replacing the one HID bulb - about $225 at the dealer. The next most expensive item was either the brakes (did them myself for about $100 in parts) or the terrific battery I got at COSTCO for $90 (I LOVE COSTCO!!!).

These Solaras are all terrific. Toyota made a terrific vehicle with this one. So why did they discontinue it? I can never figure that one out.

I have 94k miles on her, and I just feel I'm due for a change. She also feels that she's ready to move on to find a home with someone who has a lower budget than I, but wants a really great car.

So here's my dilemma - WHAT DO I GET NEXT ???

I've actually wrestled with this for the last 12 months, and I still don't have an answer.

Here are my requirements / desires:

  1. Coupe (or a VERY sporty looking 4-door).
  2. Quality vehicle that will be reliable and spend no/little time in the shop.
  3. Under $50k cost (inclusive of taxes, etc.)
  4. Brand new OR not very old AND in pristine condition.
  5. Known for getting to 150k miles with no problem, if I want it to.
  6. Not too small, interior about as large as Solara. I'm not a tiny guy and I need room.
  7. Decent sized trunk, perhaps as large as Solara.
  8. Moon roof that opens.

I didn't get to the car show, that might've helped. But so far here are the ones I'm considering:

  1. Lexus RC 2015
    I am DYING to see/feel this car when it gets to the showroom. This is BY FAR my number 1 choice. There is no question in my mind that Lexus = quality/reliability. I have two big concerns about this car: First is price - will it be under 50k? I see some suggestions on the web that it will price between 45k and 70k. That throws this one out the window:( Second concern is interior room. I cannot tell from the photos just how much less interior/trunk room I'm going to get in that car. If the car prices at 50k or even a tad more AND has decent interior/trunk room, I'M IN !

  2. Cadillac CTS
    I've always LOVED the way this car looks. VERY sporty yet luxurious. For this one I would need to get a 2011/2012 CPO to keep it in my price range. That would come to around $30-$35k. One drawback is that the moon roof doesn't open completely. I test drove it and didn't feel it had much pep from stop. Of course I was very careful with it since the car doesn't belong to me, so it was not that easy to tell. Not a major issue, however. I'm just concerned about reliability. I KNOW my honey Solara can easily reach 150/180k miles. But can a GM Cadillac do that just as easily? I also found that the visibility was on the poor side, but that in itself wouldn't be a deal breaker for me.

  3. Infiniti EX35 (2011/12)
    It's a 4 door, but really neat looking

  4. Nissan Juke
    I think this is also a HOT looking 4-dr. But I am reading that it is not a very comfortable ride. I need to be comfortable when I drive.

  5. Honda Accord Couple
    Just toying with this as an option. I kinda feel that getting this would be a bit of a step down for me and so I'm a bit hesitant.

I also test drove the Lexus IS (4-dr sedan) but it felt too much like a sports car where you felt the road. It was also too snug in the driver's seat.

What do you think?


  • solaraman2003solaraman2003 Member Posts: 92
    Hello Solara Lovers !

    So, here I am now, 15 months later, and I STILL have my lovely Solara in the driveway.

    Just thought I'd give you a quick update.

    I test drove a few cars over the last year:
    1. Cadillac 2-door (either STS or CTS - can't remember). It had a nice ride, but seemed to be on the expensive side. I was VERY disappointed to learn that the sun roof does NOT open all the way. This is a very big drawback for me, since I love having the moon roof. You can open it ANY day of the year, ANY season - as long as it's not raining or snowing out.
    2. BMW 2013 328xi (2-door coupe). Nice ride. But it still felt similar to the earlier 3 series coupes whereby it felt kinda tight in the driver's seat. Noticeably less room for the driver. I'm not a small guy so I need some room to stretch out. I learned that in 2013 they changed something in the steering and whatever it was it felt nicer to me.
    3. BMW 428xi. This model is much nicer than the old 3 series. I'm not sure if it's really true, but it did feel a bit roomier than the previous 3 series coupes that I test drove.

    A few days after driving the white BMW 428xi, I showed my friend a picture of the car in the lot. I then swished over to a similar picture of my 2008 white Solara. The pictures did not look all that different. I think the only thing that differentiated them, at least in the small 4x6 photo on my phone, was the snooty BMW emblem on the front of the hood.

    At this point I'm just going to hold out a little longer. Let's see what 2016 brings. I just cannot find a replacement vehicle that would justify a 40k-55k expenditure. Especially since my car is now at 115k miles and I KNOW it could make it to 200 with no problem.

    In the mean time, I did the timing belt and yesterday I did the spark plugs. I actually came back to forums so I can tell everyone about my experience doing the plugs. I'll post that in the right section momentarily.
  • klattu2klattu2 Member Posts: 2
    edited May 2016
    @solaraman2003 What did you choose ?
  • solaraman2003solaraman2003 Member Posts: 92
    I'm glad you asked!

    My baby Solara now has 120,000 miles and still purring. The only new problem is that the driver's side door check needs to be replaced. When I get around to it I'll fix it.

    I ended up purchasing a sweet, low mileage, well-kept 2003 Lexus SC430. My Solara has started getting a little jealous of the Lexus. Although the Lexus is in GREAT condition, I MUST ensure that she is in condition that meets my standards. So I have been spending a lot of time performing lots of preventive maintenance on her.

    The Lexus lacks some of the characteristics that I would require if I had to own just ONE vehicle, but since I have now graduated to a two-car owner, it works just fine.

    Interestingly, just last week I was pondering - what would I do if I were forced to choose between the two cars? If I had to choose between the two which would it be? Well, I concluded that I would choose the Lexus!

    Here are the pros and cons of the two vehicles:

    Lexus+ 60k miles, Solara 120k
    Lexus+ much more fun to drive
    Lexus+ is a convertible hardtop - best of both worlds (lacking moon roof, of course)
    Lexus+ certainly a head-turner!
    Lexus+ has better pickup and speed (8cyl) - but I'm really not a speed demon !

    Solara+ 33mpg hwy, Lexus 24mpg hwy (approximate)
    Solara+ terrific trunk space, Lexus is very tight
    Solara+ room for two or three backseat passengers, Lexus has room for my two little doggies
    Solara+ more front driver/passenger room to move around - nice for longer trips
    Solara+ interior color is dark grey, Lexus is "ecru" (off-white) - hard to keep clean
    Solara+ I love the moon roof - you can open it 365 days/year for fresh air
    Solara+ Stereo system has bluetooth/speakerphone and wire for smartphone connection. Retrofitting this on the Lexus is expected to be very costly.
    Solora+ Parts and service are somewhat cheaper than the Lexus

  • thebeanthebean Member Posts: 1,213
    Nice!  The SC430 is a sweet machine.  One of my friends had one and loved it.  Absolutely no issues with it.  Great choice.
    2015 Honda Accord EX, 2019 Honda HR-V EX
  • solaraman2003solaraman2003 Member Posts: 92
    Toyota and Lexus make GREAT cars. Interestingly, I find that both of these vehicles look similar in design from the outside. If they would've made the Solara as a hard-top convertible, I would've been in heaven !
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