A second-generation Camry Solara coupe will go on sale in August of 2003 as a 2004 model. As described by Toyota General Manager Don Esmond at the 2003 New York International Auto Show, the Solara was “born and bred in the United States.” All of the engineering and design work was done in the United States, and the Solara will be manufactured in Kentucky.
Touted by Esmond as “sportier, more powerful and more refined” than before, the midsize Solara comes only as a two-door coupe. A convertible was part of the previous generation’s lineup but is absent this time, at least for now. Styling on the new model is devoid of edges and curvier than the prior version.
The new Solara comes in SLE, SE and SE Sport trim levels, and a separate interior surface treatment is featured for each version. Output from the 3.3-liter V-6 engine has risen by 27 horsepower to 225 hp; it drives a new five-speed sequential automatic transmission. A four-cylinder engine also remains available. Sales begin in late summer of 2003.
Designers of the 2004 model mixed convex and concave surfaces that flow through the length of the car. A pronounced “V” character line starts at the grille and separates elongated, eye-shaped headlights. Fog lamps help impart a wider, aggressive look.
Rounded rear corners blend into an integrated bumper. Styling themes also include an upswept belt line below the triangular rear quarter windows. The bumper height has been reduced to impact a sportier stance, and body gaps have been narrowed. Riding a 107.2-inch wheelbase, the Solara coupe stretches to 192.6 inches long overall and stands 56.1 inches tall.
All Solaras have all-disc brakes and a performance-tuned suspension. The Sport Package for the SE includes a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs, a multiple-piece body kit, 17-inch wheels and sport pedals. A rear spoiler is optional.
Five occupants may be seated in the Solara. Toyota claims a 20-percent increase in interior storage space, which includes two-unit console storage. The restyled instrument panel includes a center-mounted multifunction display. Trunk space in the Solara totals 14 cubic feet.
Each of the three Solara models has a separate interior surface treatment. The SLE features woodgrain trim, while the SE has brushed-aluminum and silver-finished trim. A unique interior with black graphite-accented trim accompanies the Sport Package in the SE Sport. An XM Satellite Radio and a DVD-based navigation system equipped with a 6.7-inch viewing screen are new options.
Under the Hood
All models are equipped with either a 157-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 225 hp and 240 pounds-feet of torque. A new five-speed sequential automatic transmission is installed with the V-6 engine, while four-cylinder models get either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard, and side curtain-type airbags are optional.