2008 Pontiac Solstice Review

Pros & Cons

  • Sexy styling, plentiful grip, blazing acceleration from GXP model, attractive pricing.
  • Engine revs slowly in base Solstice, tall transmission gearing, tiny trunk, elevated wind noise on freeway, lack of interior storage.
Other years
Pontiac Solstice for Sale
List Price Range
$11,995 - $15,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice has what most folks want in a roadster: "look at me" styling, respectable performance, tenacious road-holding and a bargain price. What it doesn't have is the refinement and more communicative nature of its admittedly less flashy rival, the Mazda Miata.

Vehicle overview

Sexy and fun, yet annoying at times. Like some significant others, the 2008 Pontiac Solstice can make you bust out in a foolish grin one moment and try your patience the next. Even now in its third year, the roadster with the curvaceous body still turns heads like it did while spinning on a turntable as a concept car.

Pontiac's first attempt at a two-seat roadster is mostly a success, as all the necessary ingredients are here: a powerful front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, a fully independent suspension, big wheels and tires and a close-to-perfect weight balance. The standard Solstice has a 177-horsepower inline-4 that provides decent performance, though it has the strange sensation of feeling slower than its sub-8-second 0-60-mph time would indicate, due mainly to the engine's slow-revving nature.

Last year's arrival of the turbocharged, 260-hp GXP variant took care of that gripe, as it satisfied those who required eyeball-flattening acceleration along with eye-catching good looks. But whether you choose the base 2008 Pontiac Solstice or the pumped-up GXP version, you're certain to have some fun behind the wheel. The Solstice is aces when the top is dropped, the tunes are up and you're unraveling a twisty road at a pace that's brisk but not all-out.

Still, there are some complaints endemic to both Solstice models, including a heavy-handed feel to the steering and gearshifter, a pitiful amount of interior storage, a fussy top operation and a barely usable trunk. These attributes might seem like minor things for a roadster, but they become considerably annoying during long-term ownership.

Mazda's MX-5 Miata is the Solstice's chief competitor in the $20,000-$30,000 roadster segment. The Solstice (as well as its twin, the Pontiac Sky) may have it over the Miata in the looks and straight-line performance areas, but the Mazda beats the Pontiac in day-to-day enjoyment thanks to its more athletic personality, quicker-revving engine, effortless drop top and more polished demeanor. The Mazda is also more practical, thanks to its larger trunk and useful interior storage areas. If we were looking at the base Solstice versus the Miata, we'd have to choose the latter. But as with sexy looks, a lot of power has a way of making one forgive shortcomings, so the doubly blessed Solstice GXP is much tougher to resist.

2008 Pontiac Solstice models

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice comes in base and high-performance GXP trims. Standard on both are 18-inch wheels with 245/45 performance tires, a manual soft top (with an acoustic headliner and a glass rear window with defogger), a tilt steering wheel, OnStar telematics, a trip computer and an audio system with satellite radio, a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary input jack. The GXP adds a turbocharged engine, a limited-slip differential, dual exhaust outlets, foglamps, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Many of the GXP's convenience features are available on the base Solstice. Optional on both trims are air-conditioning, leather seating, upgraded audio with a six-disc CD changer, sport pedals and the Club Sport Package. The latter features firmer suspension calibrations for both trims as well as special wheels for the GXP and antilock brakes and a limited-slip differential for the base car.

Also available for the 2008 Solstice are the SCCA SSB Championship Edition (base model) and the SCCA T2 Championship Edition (GXP). These come with almost every feature as standard and have special exterior paint, though oddly, the Club Sport Package isn't available on either SCCA edition.

2008 Highlights

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice receives a few formerly optional features as standard this year. Both the base and turbocharged GXP versions now include OnStar, an acoustic headliner for the soft top and a trip computer. An upgraded audio system with satellite radio and MP3 playback for the CD player is also part of the deal. In terms of options, the GXP also now offers the Club Sport Package that includes firmer suspension tuning and silver-painted wheels. There are also two new special-edition trim levels this year that celebrate the car's success in SCCA racing.

Performance & mpg

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 177 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque powers the base Solstice, while the musclebound GXP gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four that makes 260 hp and 260 lb-ft. A five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic is optional for either engine. Even with the base engine, performance is respectable, with a 0-60-mph time of 7.7 seconds for manual-equipped cars. The engine's slow-revving personality makes it feel somewhat lazy around town, however. The GXP provides thrilling performance; a manual-equipped version we tested did the 0-60-mph sprint in a scant 5.8 seconds. The manual transmission's heavy shifter feel and wide gear spacing, however, put a damper on driver enjoyment.

Safety

Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on both trims, with ABS optional on the base car and standard on the GXP. The latter also comes with stability control, which is optional on the standard Solstice. Side airbags aren't offered, but in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing, the Solstice scored four stars (out of five) for both frontal- and side-impact tests.

Driving

When thrown into a corner, the 2008 Pontiac Solstice exhibits little body roll and moderate understeer. It won't hang its tail out on command like the Miata, but for most drivers, the car's substantial cornering grip makes it enjoyable on a twisty road. Hard-core enthusiasts will notice that the heavy-handed steering lacks feedback and doesn't make the experience the joy it is in the perfectly sorted Miata. The suspension provides a firm but compliant ride over broken pavement. Braking performance is good, with a stop from 60 mph coming in the 120-foot range. The antilock system, however, can sometimes be abrupt and jerky in action.

Interior

Cockpit accommodations are a mixed bag. Taller drivers will find adequate legroom and headroom, though hiproom will seem scant for many occupants due to the car's wide transmission tunnel. Other downsides include a stereo display that washes out in sunlight, difficult-to-reach power window controls, minimal storage space and an abundance of hard plastic that mars the otherwise attractive interior design. Lowering the top is a multistep affair that involves getting out of the car to stow the top and shut the hard tonneau cover. Raising it is just as involved. And though sports cars aren't expected to be practical, the odd shape of the Solstice's small, 5-cubic-foot trunk challenges one's weekend-trip packing ability.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Pontiac Solstice.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Sports Car
pilot601,02/21/2015
2dr Convertible (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
After selling my convertible Corvette two years ago I started looking for something to take its place. I found a 2008 Solstice that is white with a black top just like the Corvette was. The Solstice is actually more fun to own and drive. It's sporty, quick and just a fun little car to own. The Solstice has awesome lines and performs like sports cars three times its price.
The Quiet Storm
hypno1dr,04/06/2009
With cat-like agility and blistering acceleration, I just love my solstice gxp. While driving from San Diego to Las Vegas and staying fairly close to the speed limit (which is difficult) I actually got 33.1 mpg. As far as the manual top, I can pop it down faster than most automatic tops. As far a putting it back up, it takes a little more time, but still, its not that hard and I don't mind. Yes it does have animalistic head turning looks, and yes it gets a lot of attention from the ladies who want to ride with me. Guys if you want a babe-magnet car, with blistering acceleration, and hurricane force winds with top down, this is the beast (i mean car) to have.
feel like a kid again
bill45005,05/28/2013
Bought this car , a week ago and WOW!!!! I have had my fair share of great fun machines over the years , just to mention a few , 65 GTO convertable , a triumpth gt6, 69 firbird transam,a grifith (289 hi po with webbers etc it was a rocket ship)etc then I went into my big 4 wheel drive phase lol, the last of which was an avalanche 3/4 ton with 8.1 motor, so I have had experance with many hipo machine , but have never had any more fun than this car has given me . it is the scca model 2.4 5 m I bought it for a resonable cost and it only had 7,000 miles on it and gm certified car it is absolutly flawless . The fun I have already had is great ,top is not a big deal to put up or down
Perfect for a weekend for 2
Carl,07/13/2015
2dr Convertible (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
My wife and I where looking for a little 'mid-life crisis' fun - we are both in our early 50's. I had previously owned a 1974 Fiat Spider in my youth, so we looked at used re-conditioned Spiders - while from a nostalgia stand point it seemed fun, it wasn't practical - too many modern bells and whistles missing. We came across the Solstice on at a used sports car dealer with a good reputation - in really well kept shape and low mileage for a 2008 (30k) and attractive price. Very happy with it - we didn't need top end performance , but it is sporty, turns heads and a fun weekend play 'toy'. Stowage for gear isn't the greatest, but we can get what we need in it for an extended weekend get-away - a small duffle bag, camera and a couple of lens. Well worth the price we paid, decent gas mileage and alot of fun.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 Pontiac Solstice

Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice Overview

The Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice is offered in the following submodels: Solstice GXP, Solstice SCCA T2 Champion Edition, Solstice Convertible. Available styles include 2dr Convertible (2.4L 4cyl 5M), GXP 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M), SCCA SSB Champion Edition 2dr Convertible (2.4L 4cyl 5M), and SCCA T2 Champion Edition 2dr Convertible (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice Base is priced between $15,995 and$15,995 with odometer readings between 9726 and9726 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice SCCA SSB Champion Edition is priced between $11,995 and$11,995 with odometer readings between 49704 and49704 miles.

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Which used 2008 Pontiac Solstices are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Pontiac Solstice for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2008 Solstices listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,995 and mileage as low as 9726 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Pontiac Solstice.

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Find a used Pontiac Solstice for sale - 4 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $11,436.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 8 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $25,205.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Solstice for sale - 4 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $13,395.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 3 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $20,581.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Pontiac Solstice?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Pontiac lease specials
Check out Pontiac Solstice lease specials