New for the 1999 model year, the Camry Solara coupe carries over for 2000 with minor changes. A convertible will join the lineup in the spring as a 2001 model.
As the name implies, the Solara coupe is an offspring of the Camry sedan, using the same front-wheel-drive chassis and engines but clothed in sportier duds to advertise its different mission. While Toyota's sportier Celica coupe aims at young buyers, the Solara targets an older audience, such as empty-nest Baby Boomers looking for a change from a family sedan, minivan or sport utility vehicle.
Solara was styled at Toyota's California studio and is built at its Cambridge, Ontario, plant.
The Solara's more flamboyant styling has little in common with the Camry, sporting softer lines, smaller headlamps that surround a more prominent grille, and a toothy air intake below the front bumper.
Solara has the same 105-inch wheelbase as the Camry and is slightly longer overall at 190 inches.
Solara borrows much of the Camry's interior design but loses some space in the transformation from sedan to coupe. The rear seat is tighter than Camry's, and getting in or out of it is harder because occupants have to squeeze past the front seats.
Under the Hood
Engine choices are the same as Camry's. A 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 136 horsepower is standard in the SE. A 3.0-liter V-6 with 200 horsepower (six more than in Camry) is standard in the SLE and optional in the SE. Both are available with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.
Because it is based on the Camry, the Solara performs similarly, though a firmer suspension gives it tighter ride control and slightly more athletic cornering. Toyota doesn't pretend the Solara is a sports car (that's what the Celica and upcoming MR Spyder are for), so there is no subterfuge with this car. It is just a Camry with two fewer doors and different styling.