1999 Toyota Camry Solara

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1999 Toyota Camry Solara
Available in 3 styles:  Solara 2dr Coupe SLE shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

21–23 city / 28–32 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 5
1999 Toyota Camry Solara 5.0 10
$ 821-6,297
August 12, 1999
I've often criticized Toyota for building bland and uninspiring vehicles. When was the last time a Celica, Corolla or Tercel turned your head?

Well, there's at least one car in the Toyota lineup that offers all of Toyota's renowned quality as well as classy, head-turning styling. It's the Solara, a two-door version of the current Camry.

This is a sharply styled car that looks good from all angles. Here's proof that Toyota stylists can come up with designs that won't lull to sleep a herd of stampeding buffalo.

Performance, handling

If you are familiar with the Camry, then you already know much about the Solara. Both cars share the same mechanical underpinnings. The base model Solara is outfitted with a 135-horsepower, double overhead cam, four-cylinder engine; the more luxurious SE model comes with the 200-horsepower V-6. Both Solara models are available with either a four-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual. Our car, a dark green SE model, came with a five-speed stick shift.

As with most other Toyota engines, the Solara's V-6 aluminum powerplant runs smoothly and quietly, but not so much that you can't tell it's running. The V-6 has double overhead cams and 24 valves. Acceleration is pleasing at low speeds and the car accelerates to 65 mph quickly. As you move the stick shift through the gears, you notice it feels somewhat vague, nothing like a sports car. But the clutch is smooth and light, so shifting is easy.

If you would prefer not to shift, you'll have to open your wallet a bit wider and extract an additional $800 for the automatic transmission. Either way, you'll enjoy driving the car.

Solara provides a nice balance between sport and luxury -- the ride is not too firm or too soft. The four-wheel independent suspension system is mated to a very stiff chassis, which helps make the ride as good as an expensive luxury car. The car hugs a corner tightly

Power-assisted steering and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard on the SE model. Both systems work well.

Fit and finish

The Solara is one of those cars you feel comfortable in the moment you settle into the driver's seat.

As usual for a Toyota, the Solara comes with a very agreeable base price, but sticker shock sets in when you add such things as the sport upgrade package ($2,555), which includes leather upholstery, power driver's seat, bigger tires and alloy wheels and trunk-mounted spoiler. Side-impact air bags, a tape and CD player, sunroof and remote-controlled door locks punch up the price another $1,840.

Our fully equipped test car came with all of these items. The front bucket seats are excellent. They are firm, handsomely made and very comfortable. The eight-way power system on the driver's seat made for quick and easy adjustments.

But getting in and out of the rear seat seats can be a bit of a squeeze. The seat belt holders poke out a bit too mu ch, so you ha ve to maneuver around them. Once ensconced in the rear seats, though you'll find a respectable amount of foot, leg and headroom.

The Solara's rear seats split and fold forward, but the opening from the trunk is quite narrow. The trunk, however, is gigantic.

Solara's instrument panel has a soft, pleasing shape and efficient layout. The center controls for the radio and air conditioner were easy to reach and use. Too bad the Solara doesn't have a set of auxiliary controls on the rim of the steering wheel. That would make a terrific interior that much better. The tan color of the dash worked well with the faux wood trim.

From the outside, the Solara has clearly defined accent lines on each side, a stylish grille and a classy tail section. One hopes the next Camry sedan will take some of the Solara's styling cues.

Except for the Chrysler Sebring and Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the Solara doesn't have much competition. Most other automakers have given up on midsize coupes.

1999 Toyota Camry Solara SE

Base price: $21,188. Safety: Dual front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and side-impact protection. Price as tested: $26,138. EPA rating: 21 mpg city/28 highway. Incentives: None.

    Expert Reviews 1 of 5

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