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2009 Pontiac Solstice

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2009 Pontiac Solstice Review

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When Pontiac first showed the Solstice concept, the public and the press had just two words for the people at GM: Build it. And build it they did. Three years into production, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice roadster is an unqualified success, combining exotic good looks with a sturdy chassis and world-class handling. Despite the obvious use of in-house parts (the ventilation controls are borrowed from the Hummer H3 and the reverse lights from the GMC Envoy), and the less-than-user-friendly convertible-top mechanism, the Solstice comes off as fresh and original. Visually, the Solstice easily rivals such stylish competitors as the BMW Z4 and Audi TT, yet costs half as much.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you covet fine four-wheeled automotive art and your idea of driving is a small, responsive and affordable two-seat sports car on a challenging two-lane road, the 2009 Pontiac Solstice is your dream come true.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need ample interior storage and bring along more than a very, very small amount of luggage on the trip, you may be better off with a four-seat convertible like the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. The Solstice Roadster provides precious little room for stuff in the cockpit and a mere 5.4 cubic feet of trunk space with the top up – and almost none at all with the top down.

What's New for 2009

A hard-top Coupe joins the Roadster. It features a liftback glass hatch and a removable roof panel. New standard equipment includes StabiliTrak stability control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a limited-slip differential.

Driving the Solstice
Driving Impressions

The 2009 Pontiac Solstice's 2.4-liter engine has excellent low-end torque for strong launch and passing performance, yet it happily revs to its 6600-rpm redline when the driver's mood arises. The...

... power rack-and-pinion steering is crisp and accurate, the large four-wheel power disc brakes are strong and linear and the short-throw shifter gives smooth, precise gear changes. Due to the combination of a stiff chassis, a wide track, near 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, perfectly tuned four-wheel independent suspension and big, handling-biased tires, cornering balance and performance are simply outstanding, yet the ride doesn't beat you up on lumpy surfaces. We also enjoyed the seat support and comfort and the surprising lack of road noise with the top up.

Styling
Just about everyone loves the looks of this car, and so do we.

Driving Dynamics
Despite its reasonable price, this is a truly outstanding sports car with an exceptional level of handling response and capabilities.

2009 Pontiac Solstice Details
2009 Pontiac Solstice photo Interior

The interior has a cockpit-style layout that angles the controls toward the driver and features motorcycle-inspired gauges. Unlike some small coupes, it has generous shoulder room and sufficient legroom for taller drivers. The "racing-inspired" bucket seats have small but useful storage pockets and ample bolsters for support during spirited cornering, and the thick, adjustable-rake steering wheel's diameter seems just right for serious driving. While some interior parts are borrowed from other GM products ( Chevrolet Corvette, Opel Corsa, Hummer H3) to save time and investment cost, every component is carefully integrated to complement the whole.

Exterior

Pontiac calls it "a modern American update of the classic roadster...inspired by the romantic era of sports cars." We call it near-perfect, with taut lines, seductive curves, long hood, short rear deck, clean body sides, high beltline, dual-port Pontiac grille and wide 18-inch wheels and tires pushed to the corners for a low, aggressive stance. The trunk lid is rear-hinged to accept the folding top, integrated fairings behind the headrests recall racing sports cars of the past and the prominent headlamps and wrap-around taillamps have a premium, jewel-like appearance. Like most convertibles, the Roadster looks best with its manual top tucked away, but is also nearly as tasty with it up. On the Coupe, cargo space is greatly increased, while a contoured roof panel increases head room to 37.4 inches.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The comprehensive standard equipment list includes four-wheel independent short/long-arm suspension, Bilstein coil-over monotube shocks, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, fast-ratio rack-and-pinion steering, P245/45R18 all-season tires on alloy wheels, StabiliTrak stability control, limited-slip differential, rake-adjustable steering wheel, leather-wrapped manual shift knob, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, two-way power driver's-seat adjuster, AM/FM/MP3-compatable CD six-speaker stereo, manual cloth convertible top with glass rear window defogger and dual-stage front airbags.

Optional Equipment

There are four logically-grouped packages: The Preferred Package includes power windows, locks and mirrors and remote keyless entry; the Convenience Package adds fog lamps, cruise control and enhanced Driver Information Center controls; the Premium Package includes leather seating and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls; and the Club Sport Package features a singe CD stereo and performance suspension while deleting OnStar, XM radio and all other options save for a rear spoiler. The Club Sport can be considered a basic version designed to keep weight to a minimum. Other available options include air conditioning, carpeted floor mats, premium Monsoon seven-speaker audio, GM's latest OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation system and a five-speed automatic transmission.

Under the Hood

Given the modest price, we were pleasantly surprised to see the 173-horsepower 2.4-liter variable valve timing (VVT) version of GM's all-aluminum DOHC 16-valve ECOTEC four-cylinder engine as standard in the Solstice,. Acceleration is strong up to about 60 miles per hour, but then drops off. If you're looking for more than just a comfortable touring car, the turbocharged GXP is the model you want.

2.4-liter in-line 4
173 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
167 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (manual), 19/24 (automatic)

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2009 Pontiac Solstice Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 267 Ratings for the 2006 - 2009 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.2/10
    Quality
    8.9/10
  • Reliability
    9.3/10
    Performance
    9.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

Rocket acceleration, sports car handling, sexy

By on Monday, July 4, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "GXP is fast, handles well, looks great"

Cons: "impractical, no room except for sock and underwear"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I consider this my safer alterative to a motorcycle. All the open air feeling with speed, handling and believe it or not exceptional economy. GM got it all right with this car, impractical for sure but what a looker and fun per mile is off the charts. Real steal on dealers lots these days if you looking for a roadster but be sure to get the GXP, that turbo is the real deal as it is wicked fast. Be prepared for a windy ride some days but despite that never drive this car with the top up,.. unless of course you run into unexpected rain. May have future collectability, time will tell."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Adorable

By on Monday, June 13, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Price was fair. Great to drive"

Cons: "Storage space small, but protects the open top."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"An eye-catching 'Toy'" Quick, handles well, quality throughout. Red Convertible. Little short on storage space. Definitely a summer car. What else could one ask for?"

Great car with a lot of features.

By on Thursday, December 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great looking car, great sensation of speed."

Cons: "Noisy tires on some road surfaces."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car is a retirement present. I have owned this GXP for two months. The manual transmission is easy to shift and the clutch is easy to modulate. The abundant low end torque makes getting underway from a stop a snap. Riding along in almost any gear only requires a little more pressure on the accelerator to take off at a very quick pace. This manual is easier to drive and requires less down shifting that an '84 corvette that I owned. The wide tires and wheels lets you take curves quickly and with confidence. Interior controls are easy to use. Exterior mirrors are small. Difficult to back up because of a lack of rearward visibility. My car has all of the bells and whistles. Great sound system, chrome wheels and well done seats. One word of caution. The owners manual warns against leaving the "slime" tire repair sealant in the tire for more than 100 miles. I may damage the tire. This is a true sports car. Fast, low to the ground and stiff suspension. One of the most attractive engine bays that I have ever seen."

11 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Bought new on a whim, thanksgiving 2006

By on Saturday, December 5, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,240

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Bought the car on a whim a few days after my wife passed away after a long battle with Cancer... Time to do it is now, as there may not be a then... 9 years later it has proven to be a very reliable fun car to drive, even on a small island. I likened it to the old Austin Healey 100/6 British sports car feel, with modern american parts and reliability. Shame it was discontinued, but I'll soon be parting with mine in favor of Range Rover. The island I am on now, has too many hills, and over the hood visibility lacks on these roads... and no roads to open up and run the wind."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Very fun to drive

By on Monday, November 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 77,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Handles great, fun to drive"

Cons: "trunk is just too fricking small. Cup holders are"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"It's a really fun car to drive and handles corners like a champ. It's only got a 4-banger but plenty of pep with the manual transmission. It's fun on a road trip but don't plan on hauling much gear. Don't plan on a suitcase, more of a dufflebag for hauling a few things and a change of clothes. But driving through the forest with the top down - that is an AWESOME experience and well worth the cost."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

I have #750/1000. Turns heads. Gals love it.

By on Saturday, September 5, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Beautiful body style. The best style GM ever made."

Cons: "No spare and little trunk space."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought this as a retirement present. It is one of the "First 1000." A "First 1000" Plaque is on the dash. You're not buying this car for cup holders or trunk space. It is a fun car for cruising and turning heads. It turns heads every where I go and wish I had a nickle for everyone who asked "What is that car? and "That is so cool." Handles well, runs smooth and can open or close the top in less than 60 seconds. I change oil and filters every 4000 miles myself. Air and Oil filters are easy to access from under the hood, not under the car. Drawbacks: no spare tire, poor cup holder positions, trans is under the seats and must remove fender to access battery. But "I love it!""

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

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