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Jump into the roadster family in time for spring

The Pontiac Solstice and its corporate twin, the Saturn Sky, launched in model years 2006 and 2007, respectively.

History/Description: The Pontiac Solstice and its corporate twin, the Saturn Sky, launched in model years 2006 and 2007, respectively. Two-seat, soft-top convertibles, the vehicles enjoyed short life spans before being axed due to GM’s financial segue into modern times. The Pontiac and Saturn brands are no longer with us, but both of their recent convertibles are available in the used market for reasonably affordable prices.

Since the vehicles were basically identical aside from some cosmetics, this review applies to both models.

Engines, gearboxes and chassis components were shared between the roadsters, and included a four-wheel independent suspension, rear-wheel drive, automatic or manual transmissions and front-mounted choice of four-cylinder engines. Said engines included a a 2.4 litre ECOTEC unit with 177 horsepower, or a two-litre ECOTEC turbo mill with 260.

Models with the latter engine were called the Pontiac Solstice ‘GXP’ or Saturn Sky ‘Redline.’ These high-powered models delivered very pleasing performance, but require premium fuel and will burn it more quickly. Insurance rates will also likely be higher.

What Owners Like: Overall value, fun-to-drive dynamics, performance, looks and fuel economy were all highly rated on the Sky and Solstice twins by their owners.

What Owners Hate: Most owners say they wished for more interior storage space, a larger trunk, and easier entry and exit to the two-seat cockpit. Many also note that folding the soft top down was a more time–consuming process than in competing models, like the Mazda MX-5. Interior trim materials and quality rounded out the complaints.

Common Issues: If the model you’re considering has the turbocharged engine and exhibits an erratic idle or ‘misfire’ between about 2,000 and 3,000 rpm, a bad engine management sensor may be to blame. The Sky and Solstice aren’t free of electronics-related issues like these, so if any seem to be presenting themselves, be sure to have a GM-trained mechanic figure out why.

Note that ‘bad’ or ‘low-octane’ gas may make the turbo engine run in a limited output mode or with a lumpy, sporadic power delivery.

Ensure the trunk release works properly, and be sure to cycle the roof between its ‘up’ and ‘down’ positions, ensuring proper operation and checking for rips, tears and duct-tape patches. If the roof feels difficult to erect or shows signs of damage, call it into pricing negotiations.

A visit to your local GM dealer with your used Solstice or Sky candidate is highly recommended. A mechanical inspection of the possibly-problematic rear differential and check over for leaks, issues and engine computer trouble-codes can add peace of mind to the purchase process.

The Verdict: If everything checks out with the used Solstice or Sky you’re considering, you’ll be well on your way to a stylish and entertaining top-down motoring experience for two.

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