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Expert Reviews 1 of 4
By Rick Popely
June 20, 2001
Vehicle Overview The Camry Solara coupe arrived for 1999 as a two-door spin-off of the Camry sedan and was joined in the spring of 2000 by a convertible.
The Solara uses the same front-drive chassis and engines as the Camry but wears sportier styling that was created in California and is aimed at middle-aged buyers. Toyota pitches the Celica sports coupe at the younger crowd.
Exterior The Solaras 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.
The Solara has the same 105-inch wheelbase as the Camry and is slightly longer overall at 190 inches. The convertible comes with a standard power top and glass rear window.
Interior The Solara borrows much of the Camrys interior design but loses some space in the transformation from sedan to coupe and convertible. The rear seat is tighter than the Camrys, and getting in or out of it is more difficult because occupants have to squeeze past the front seats. The front passenger seat lacks a slide-forward feature found on many coupes, which makes entry and exit easier.
Solara SE models come with standard equipment similar to the Camry LE, including air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The SLE versions add automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a remote entry system and other amenities.
Under the Hood Engine choices are the same as the Camrys. A 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower 2 hp more than the Camry is standard in the SE. With 6 hp more than the Camry, a 3.0-liter V-6 with 200 hp is standard in the SLE and optional in the SE. Both engines are available with five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions in the coupe. The convertible comes with the automatic only.
Driving Impressions 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 doesnt pretend the Solara is a sports car like the Celica and MR2 Spyder, so there is no subterfuge with this car. It is simply a Camry with two fewer doors and different styling, designed mainly for empty-nesters and baby boomers who want to add a little flair to their driving.