The Camry Solara received a mid-cycle freshening for 2007, resulting in an updated exterior, a new instrument cluster and additional safety equipment. The Solara is unchanged for 2008. It's available as both a coupe and a convertible, and its competition includes the Nissan Altima and Accord coupes, neither of which are offered as convertibles.
The current Solara coupe debuted as a 2004 model, and featured a fresh look and more power from the available V-6 in its second generation. All engineering and design work was done in the U.S. The Solara is manufactured in Kentucky.
Trim levels include the base SE, the Solara Sport and the top-of-the-line SLE. Convertibles come only with a 3.3-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, but a four-cylinder is offered in the coupe as an alternative to the V-6. Manual and automatic transmissions are available in V-6 models.
Designers of the second-generation model mixed convex and concave surfaces that flow through the length of the car. Its front-end styling imparts a squared-off stance that follows elements of Lexus' 2007 ES 350 sedan. Among its highlights are a taller air dam and smaller, more subtle fog lights.
Rounded rear corners blend into an integrated bumper. The tail features LED taillamps and a standard rear spoiler. 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 for coupes, 56.5 for convertibles.
All Solaras have all-disc brakes. The Sport model includes a modified suspension with stiffer springs, a six-piece body kit, a unique rear spoiler, 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 an electroluminescent display. Trunk space totals 13.8 cubic feet in the coupe and nearly 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 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 155-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.3-liter V-6 that produces 210 hp and 220 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 airbags are standard in coupes but unavailable in convertibles. An electronic stability system is optional for SLE models with the V-6.
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, rather refined Solara behaves essentially on par with its predecessor.
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