I bought the car used from relatives in '05, with 203,000 miles on it, and it's now running 260,000 with no problems. I had to replace brakes, rotors, and struts when I bought it (blame it on a bad mechanic that my uncle used to use) and only have replaced spark plugs ($30 from Toyota) and spark plug tube seals ($12 from Toyota). It's a great car, great ride, performance is lower because it's a 4-cyl. Great first car.
Overall my V6 SLE has been ok, but not what I expected from a Toyota. The parts are expensive ($200 for an O2 sensor, $250 for a pair of tires, $75 for a set of spark plugs), and the 18-20 MPG that it gets is now killing me at the pump ($60 won't fill the giant tank). The A/C controls are still a hassle to use, even after two years of owning the vehicle. The doors are extremely heavy (not good if you don't lift weights), and require plenty of room to open (not good if you live in a place with tight parking!). The exterior of the car is very attractive, and unfortunately it was that and the Toyota name that sold me this car. I wish I'd done some research!
I love the notepad/pen holder located in the dash and having a full sized spare is always a plus. Otherwise, the exterior is the best thing going for this car.
Fuel economy! After that, I would say they need to make the doors much shorter.
I have been highly disappointed in this vehicle; it has caused me a lot of grief. I will never buy a used vehicle again but then again I thought Toyota built a better transmission and never expected it to go out at 46,000 miles. I have had the engine light on for 8 years and part of the years I had total warranty coverage but it seems it didn't seem to matter. Had work done on it buy Toyota but they only screwed it up and I'm paying for it now
Too many blind spots, too many controls for air, etc., tires wear out, electrical has problems
Bought it new back in '00, have put just under 195,000 on it. Still love it. Had five O2 sensors replaced (4 under warranty). All other service routine and repairs reasonable for age, mileage, and my driving, I'd think.
Manual transmission. Fantastic fuel economy (still get upward of 28 MPG mixed; originally got well into the mid-30s)! Peppy and fun to drive, especially for its size. Very roomy. Refined interior. Quiet. Full-size spare!
I have had this car since new and the only thing I have had replaced has been the timing belt, water pump and tires. I have 180,000 on the odometer and have not even replaced the clutch. The strut mounts will need to be replaced because I can hear a clunking noise over speed bumps and this seems to be a common problem with the Solara. The tires also seem to be an issue because they wear out pretty quickly. I have no complaints because even after 9 years I still get compliments on the looks and even the way it drives. It also still gets great gas mileage. The original stereo was okay but an upgrade to a Sony made a world of difference, sonically speaking and the speaker are still OEM.
Looks, smoothness and reliability.
Struts should be a recall item along with the water pump which they replace when you get the timimg belt changed. The suspension could be a tad bit tighter because roll stiffness can be an issue on faster corners and I believe adds to the rapid wear of the tires.