A second-generation Camry Solara coupe debuted as a 2004 model and featured a fresh look and more power from the available V-6. All engineering and design work was done in the U.S., and the Solara is manufactured in Kentucky. A convertible was added to the lineup later.
Solara coupes come in SE, SE Sport and SLE trim levels. Each version features a separate interior surface treatment. Convertibles come only with a 3.3-liter V-6 and a five-speed-automatic transmission, but a four-cylinder is offered in the coupe as an alternative to the V-6.
For the 2006 model year, a five-speed-automatic transmission can be installed in four-cylinder models. SE and SE Sport editions gain power lumbar support for the driver's seat.
Designers of the second-generation model mixed convex and concave surfaces that flow through the length of the car. A pronounced "V" shape starts at the grille and separates elongated headlights. Fog lamps impart a wider, more aggressive look.
Rounded rear corners blend into an integrated bumper. Styling themes include an upswept belt line below the triangular rear quarter windows. Riding a 107.1-inch wheelbase, the Solara stretches to 192.5 inches long overall and stands 56.1 inches tall.
All Solaras have all-disc brakes. The SE Sport includes a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer springs, a six-piece body kit, 17-inch alloy wheels and aluminum-trimmed pedals.
Up to five people fit inside the Solara coupe, but the convertible holds only four. The instrument panel has a center-mounted multifunction display. Trunk space totals 13.8 cubic feet in the coupe and 12 cubic feet in the convertible.
Each Solara model has a separate interior surface treatment. The SLE features woodgrain trim, while the SE has silver-metallic trim. Black graphite-looking trim highlights the SE Sport. XM Satellite Radio and a DVD-based navigation system with a 6.5-inch viewing screen are optional.
With its top up, the convertible offers an additional 2 inches of rear headroom compared with the coupe. Convertibles have a magnetic front seat-belt guide to ease access into the rear seat.
Under the Hood
Solara coupes can be equipped with either a 157-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 225 hp and 240 pounds-feet of torque. A five-speed-automatic transmission teams with the V-6, and four-cylinder models can be equipped with the five-speed automatic or a five-speed-manual gearbox.
Antilock brakes and seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are optional in coupes. Toyota's Vehicle Stability Control electronic stability system is optional for SLE V6 models.
In its first generation, the Solara coupe and convertible delivered an enjoyable road experience, coupled with ample performance and satisfactory handling talents. As expected, performance gets a boost with the extra output from Toyota's V-6. But overall, this quiet-running and rather refined Solara behaves essentially on a par with its predecessor.