We all know by now that Toyota has made several iconic cars over the years, and the Soarer is definitely one of them. It was in production for nearly a quarter century, from 1981-2005. While Toyota sold the Soarer exclusively in Japan, North America got the Lexus SC300/400 which were merely rebadged Toyota Soarer’s. Its lifespan was spread out over twenty-four years and was often called the “halo car” by the Toyota themselves. It was appropriately given this nickname because the automaker had a knack for introducing new technologies on the Soarer first before they were put into other models.
As these cars are becoming available for import to the US, especially the third generation, they are slowly but surely getting a cult-like following. We here are JDMbuysell.com have created this in-depth buyers guide to shed some light on this fantastic luxury GT coupe so you can educated yourself before purchasing one.
Pros and Cons
- They came with the iconic 1JZ and 2JZ engines in later generations
- Renowned Toyota reliability
- Easily tuned
- Great aftermarket support
- They hold their resale value well
- Horrible fuel mileage
- Small trunk
- Can become quite problematic if the owner hasn’t kept up with regular maintenance
- Hard to find one that hasn’t been abused
- Exterior styling can be a bit on the boring side
The issues commonly found on a certain car can be the deciding factor whether someone is going to buy that vehicle or not. Fortunately, the Soarer is praised by many as one of the most reliable vehicles out there. As we all know, Toyota builds some of the most reliable cars, and that extends to the Soarer as well. Mechanically speaking, there isn’t much that will fail on these cars, given that regular maintenance and oil changes have been done. Most complaints come in the form of cosmetic issues, such as cracked weather stripping and interior plastics. That is to be expected for a car that is getting up there in age. These cars have been synonymous with the drift scene, so its not like people paid too much attention to cosmetics.
Another issue some owners have reported problems with are the aging electronics. There have been cases where the digital dash, window regulators, and other miscellaneous electronics have failed. It is important to keep in mind that these cars come from the time where a huge emphasis was put on reliability, not on how many gadgets can be fitted in a car like auto manufacturers do nowadays. Overall, the Soarer is a reliable vehicle that will put a smile on your face every time you get in the drivers seat.
Since this car has been in production for nearly 25, years, it’s hard to put an accurate price on it. That being said, most people are after the third generation Soarer’s, and they can be found starting at around $5,000-$6,000 and can go for as much as $25,000 for a fully built, clean example. It all depends on what you are after.
Here are a few examples of the cheapest and the most expensive ones currently available on JDMbuysell.com:
In the world of 2+2 GT coupes you have plenty of choice. Although we highly recommend getting a Soarer if you are in the market for a big, comfy sports car that will last for years to come, there are also plenty of other similar models to choose from.
Below are some comparable alternatives to the Toyota Soarer:
Models and Specifications
Like we mentioned above, the Soarer was spread out over four generations, each slightly better and more advanced than the latter. Some generations were well-received, while others were plagued with issues due to Toyota using the Soarer as a sort of “guinea pig” to test out new tech.
First Generation (Z10 1981-1985)
The first-generation Soarer was unveiled at the Osaka International Motor Show, under the Z10 chassis code back in 1980. One year later, it was named car of the year in Japan. Toyota debuted the Soarer with RWD, which was based on the popular A60 Supra. In addition, it came packed with numerous state-of-the-art technologies for its time. Features such as touchscreen climate control, LED-illuminated digital tachometer, and so on were offered as standard on all trim levels except for the entry level one. Initially, the Soarer was marketed as a compact car for tax purposes, but as well all know now, that didn’t last long.
A total of six engines were offered ranging from a 2.0L and went all the way up to a 3.0L inline-six. Transmission wise, the customer had the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.
The suspension wasn’t overlooked either in the Soarer. The first generation came with MacPherson struts on the front, independent rear suspension with trailing arms, and an advanced diagnostics system that Toyota called Precision Engineered Geometrically Advanced SUSpension, or Pegasus for short.
Features included ABS, cruise control, seven-way adjustable drivers’ seat on models equipped with leather, audible warning messages, digital automatic climate control, and Toyota Electronic Modulated Suspension which was the first car Toyota ever used that technology in.
All this technology made the first-generation Soarer a big hit and set the bar quite high for the next generation which came out in 1986.
Second Generation (Z20 1986-1991)
The second-generation Soarer, aka Z20 was unveiled in January 1986. Once again, the Soarer had the same platform as the A70 Supra and shared many parts from other Toyota models. This was a great business decision on the automakers part. Style wise, it was similar to the Cressida, Mark II, Chaser, and Cresta of that time.
It was offered with five engine choices ranging from 2.0L to 3.0L just like the previous generation. The difference this time was that the 7M and the 1G engines came turbocharged. Also new for the second generation was the additional second five-speed transmission, bringing the total to two five-speed manuals and one four-speed automatic gearboxes to choose from.
1988 saw a limited-edition package introduced from the famed auto tuner named TOM’S. The TOM’S edition came with the 7M-GTE 3.0L turbo engine which was upgraded to the same power numbers as the Toyota Supra had back then.
Also new in ’88 was the introduction of the facelifted second-gen Soarer. This consisted of a new grill and taillights, along with a few modern touches added to the interior. The 1G-GTEU and 7M-GTEU saw power increase to 211hp and 240hp respectively.
In 1989 a limited edition of 500 units was available was available with something Toyota called “The Aerocabin”. This special edition came with only two seats and an electronically operated folding roof. Trim-wise it was the same as the GT line and was available only with the 7G engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. Tan leather and a peal paintjob were also included in this package.
Third Generation (Z30 1991-2000)
The third generation is probably the one that comes to mind when thinking of the Soarer. It went on for almost a decade and it has made the car the icon that we know today.
It debuted in 1991, which was the same year that the very first Lexus SC 300/400 was introduced in the US. It was nearly identical to the Lexus, with the exception of a few cosmetic and powertrain differences.
Technology wise, the Soarer still retained many of the features from previous models, but in addition to that, Toyota introduced the worlds first factory GPS navigation on the Z30. Over the years it outgrew its small compact size and was now seen as an extravagant luxury car in Japan. This also increased the amount of taxes that its owners had to pay annually.
Throughout the whole third generation Toyota offered an available four-speed automatic in addition to the five-speed manual. Sadly however, the five-speed automatic transmission that was offered on the Lexus in the States was not available on the Soarer.
The exterior only received very minor changes over its nine-year lifespan. There was no sense in changing something that already looks good.
This generation was the first time we see the Soarer use the now iconic 1JZ and 2JZ engines. In total, there were only three engines to choose from. The ranged from 2.5L all the way up to a 4.0L V8, and only two transmission were available.
Fourth Generation (Z40 2001-2005)
Many enthusiasts will say that the Soarer was no longer what it used to be after the third generation, but its only right that we mention all the different generations. The long and sleek design of the previous generation was now replaced by a more compact and top-heavy appearance.
The new Soarer was almost identical to its brother, the Lexus SC. The Soarer 430CSV featured a convertible hardtop, like the Mercedes SL had at the time. The only engine choice was a 4.3L V8, which made a total of 279hp and 317lbs. ft. of torque, thus taking this luxury coupe to 62mph in a very respectable 6 seconds flat. The new model came only with a five or six-speed automatic.
On July 26, 2005 Lexus introduced the SC 430 to the Japanese market as the much beloved Soarer was getting discontinued. It was a bittersweet day, but all good things must come to an end eventually.
Soarer Model: JZZ31 3.0ltr
Soarer Model: UZZ30 4.0ltr V8 Coil Spring
Soarer Model: UZZ31 4.0ltr V8 Air Suspension
Soarer Model: UZZ32 4.0ltr V8 Active Suspension
Model: UZZ40 4.3ltr V8 SCV
Lexus offered the SC300/400 in the beginning of the third generation but without the infamous Twin-Turbo engine option.
Absolutely! If you look online, you will see many Soarer owners praising the car for its reliability.
Not at all. Many parts are interchangeable between the Lexus SC 300/400 and the Soarer. In addition, there is huge aftermarket support for these cars.
Yes. This is what the Soarer was designed to do. It was designed to take you and a passenger/s over great distances in style and comfort.
Not particularly. Within a week you will feel right at home and everything will become second nature.
This was because Toyota wanted their Lexus brand to really gain traction in the States.
How to Import a Toyota Soarer
Read our ultimate guide, How to Import a Car from Japan.
Can you make this guide better? Are you a huge fan of the Soarer? If so, please contact us.
- Robert's been into cars ever since he was little. His experience with vehicles comes from his passion and ownership several cars including many JDM vehicles
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