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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 4, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Toyota Solara Coupe


It is a tall order but Toyota handled it well. Toyota wants to make the new Solara more appealing to more consumers, especially men, because nearly 60 percent of Solara owners are women. The all-new sheet metal and interior design is unique to Solara, Camry's two-door stable mate, but under the skin you'll find a lot of Camry parts. That's a good thing since the Toyota Camry is the best selling mid-size sedan on the market.

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

The 2004 Solara is available in the SLE, SE and SE Sport grades, each with its own interior surface treatments. The SLE model receives a rich wood-grain trim, while a brushed aluminum and silver finish trim will be applied to the SE model. SE models equipped with the all-new sports package will feature a unique interior complete with black graphite-accented trim.

Solara is equipped with either a V6 or I-4-cylinder engine. The all-new 3.3 liter V6 with VVTi generates 225 hp at 5,600 rpm and 240 lb.ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm. Solara's with the V6 get an all-new five-speed automatic sequential transmission. Sorry, no five-speed manual is available with the V6. A five-speed manual is only available with the I-4-engine or you can opt for a four-speed automatic. The new power is smoothly transferred to the front wheels via a performance-tuned suspension. Virtually every mounting and pivot point between the suspension and body has been repositioned and recalibrated. Specially tuned front struts improve Solara's ride quality, while unique springs, new front tower brace, dual-link rear, and front/rear stabilizer bars reduce body role and pitch, plus traction control and vehicle stability control (VSC) help keep you on track during severe maneuvers. Power-assisted rack & pinion steering adds precise response to your input. Better stopping power is in evidence with new, power-assisted, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

The styling concept of the all-new Solara integrates both convex and concave surfaces that flow dynamically down the length of the car to give Solara it characteristic shape and advanced look. An extensive and pronounced 'V' character line begins at the signature Toyota grille to separate aggressive elongated 'cats eye' headlamps that enhance Solara's sporty image. Fog lamps that provide a wider, aggressive look and stance further complement Solara's front fascia. The exterior culminates with rounded corners at the rear that blend into an integrated rear bumper, highlighting the look and design of the rear deck. Bumper height was reduced on the new Solara to give it a sportier stance and body gaps were narrowed. The rear combination lamp begins at the end of the character line forming a teardrop shape, while an optional rear spoiler lip further strengthen the Solara's sense of style. A single, 2in. wide, polished stainless steel exhaust tip peers under the right side of the bumper. Cleanly styled, the Solara cuts through the air with an excellent 0.29 co-efficient of drag. If you park a new Lexus SC430 next to the Solara you can see some similarities at the rear. The Solara SE and SLE sport models ride on big P215/55R17 all-season performance tires wrapped around 17 x 7 inch cast aluminum wheels further adding to the aggressive good looks.

Like its exterior, the Solara interior evokes a sporty and stylish image highlighted by a restyled T-shaped instrument panel. The new cluster is easy to see and features a centered 160 mph speedo, 8,000 rpm tachometer to the left and smaller gauges for fuel/engine coolant temperature to the right with bright LED readouts warning of system failure. The new center mounted multi-function display features time, outside temperature gauge, fuel consumption, average speed and elapsed time. The new chassis is stiffer, and the platform is longer, wider and higher than before, which translates to a quieter ride and more room inside. The new front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive during long or spirited driving. The steering wheel now is both tilting and telescoping for the perfect angle and distance for comfortable handling, plus there are buttons for the audio system and to scroll through the multi-function display. Other features inside include power windows/door locks, thick-pile carpeting, assist grip above the passenger door, theater lighting, a powerful JBL AM-FM stereo radio/cassette tape player/six disc in-dash CD player and six-speakers, variable-speed wipers/washer, electronic cruise-control and more storage space with a new console box, dual cupholders, and a center console that offers dual storage units. The front console door, glove box and register knobs use silicone dampers for smoother operation. New for Solara are Satellite XM radio and navigation options. The Solara's 6.7 inch screen is among the biggest on the market today.

Safety features include front/rear crush zones, side impact beams in both doors, 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters up front, front and side airbags, independent rear seat headrests plus optional front and rear curtain side airbags.

The new Sports Package, available on SE models, includes a special five-piece body kit, a unique dark-charcoal interior with black graphite trim, sport-fabric seats, exclusive sport gauges and meter color, a leather trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and aluminum faced pedals. The sports package will also feature a performance-tuned suspension that includes stiffer front and rear springs, as well as sport-tuned front and rear shock absorbers.

The all-new 2004 Solara was engineered and designed in America for a variety of American tastes. Consumer appeal in Solara will range from style, to design, to impressions, to excitement. You can make the Solara fit your special needs and desires.

While it is not the fastest and best handling coupe on the market, the Solara gives the consumer looking for a mid-size coupe a lot for the money.

© Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Toyota products, go to


Name of vehicle: Toyota Solara Price: $19,129.00 to $25,995.00 Engine type: 2.4liter I-4 DOHC VVTi/3.3liter V6 DOHC VVTi Horsepower: 2.4 liter - 157 at 5,600 rpm/3.3 liter - 225 at 5,600 rpm Torque: 2.4liter - 162lb.ft. at 4,000 rpm/3.3 liter - 240 lb.ft. at 3,600rpm Drive configuration: front engine/front wheel drive Transmission type: 2.4 liter - 5-speed manual/4-speed automatic 3.3 liter - five-speed automatic ECT-I Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar, strut tower brace Rear suspension: Independent, dual link struts with stabilizer bar, gas-charged shocks. Wheels and tires: 17 x 7 in. cast aluminum wheels/P215/55R17 all-season radial tires Brakes: 11.65 vented front disc brakes/10.50 solid rear brakes with ABS/Vehicle Stability Control/Traction Control Overall length: 192.5 in. Overall width: 71.5 in. Overall height: 56.1 in. Curb weight: 3,175/3,439 lbs. EPA: 2.4 liter - 23 MPG/city, 33 MPG/highway; 3.3 liter - 20 MPG/city, 29 MPG/highway 0-60 mph: 7.1sec. (3.3 liter V6)

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