I'm on the verge of potentially trading in my dark green/tan leather 99 SLE w/ 157k. I do not want to get rid of it, but a 3 yr old and a newborn make a coupe impractical. Said simply, aside from some suspension issues, a valve cover gasket, and the backlight on the JVC stero going out, the car has been flawless and still looks fantastic. I get comments everywhere. Two recent ones were from the husband/owner of my sons' daycare, who wanted to take a spin, because he always wanted a Solara and never got one ("It's a Lexus with a Toyota badge" - his conclusion), and several less car savvy people who just cant believe its 11 years old.
True, matching 5th wheel; timeless styling that got panned originally; smooth, comfortable ride; incredible build/design quality; sound quality of stock JVC stereo system is superb. The leather seats have held up well (except the steering wheel), and the two tone dash looks brand new.
Biggest complaints are lack of remote trunk release, and mediocre fuel economy for a 200hp V6. The back bucket seats are surprisingly completely impractical for a baby seat. Okay, I'm nitpicking now. Still the best car I've ever owned (better than Porsche, VW, Honda). Gonna miss her.
I purchased this Solara in 2002 and it had 75,000 miles on it. It now has 200,000 miles and has been Uber Reliable. I put one timing belt on it and a starter that I got off eBay for 60 bucks. This car has never failed me and is as smooth today with 200k as it was with 75k. I plan to drive it another 200k and I think it will make it just fine.
Bought my Solara new in 1999 and have had nothing but satisfaction with the vehicle. Regardless I expect to go WAY past 250,000 miles with this car. Just follow the maintenance schedule and take care of it, and it'll be the most reliable vehicle you've ever owned. Would I buy another? In a New York Minute. But this time, I will find a better dealer.
Reliability. Looks are fine even for an older model. Low cost of ownership.
Bought the SE V6 5-speed manual brand new in Dec '98, shipped from the factory, arriving in Jan '99. Still enjoy driving it 11 years later. Regular maintenance is all that has been needed - the total cost of ownership cannot be beat. It is a sporty car that has an actual usable backseat and large trunk. At 153,000 miles, I'm sure it has many more miles left.
Reliable, large interior and trunk with fold-down rear seats accommodates larger items. Comfortable seats, easy shifting.