2004 Camry Solara New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Camry continues to be the best-selling passenger car in America, with more than 413,000 sold in 2003. Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability are a big part of the reason. The Camry is the perfect transportation appliance, flawlessly performing its duties, never annoying its owner. Its soft suspension smoothes out beat-up city streets. The interior is ergonomically excellent, with big climate and audio knobs that are easy to adjust. The seats are comfortable. What's not to like?
How about the sporty look of a two-door? How about being able to drop the top?
Enter the Toyota Camry Solara. The two-door Solara coupe gives its owner a sportier lifestyle, eliminating the stodginess of driving a four-door sedan. Yet it still offers the practicality of a truly useful rear seat. The Solara convertible puts the wind in your hair and brings a ray of sunshine into your life. At the same time, the Solara coupe and convertible are built on the same platform as the Camry sedan, and offer all the same quality, durability and reliability, while maintaining much of the practicality. Both offer easy, carefree operation. Both give their owners a sportier lifestyle without the cost and impracticality of a true sports car. Both are high-quality cars. If you want two doors, this is a safe, smart choice.
The Camry sedan was completely redesigned, and greatly improved, for 2002, and the Solara models have been completely redesigned and greatly improved for 2004. The Solara convertible was unveiled at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show in February.
And don't think the Camry sedan has been ignored for 2004. Sporty SE models offer a new 3.3-liter V6 rated at 225 horsepower. The new V6 comes standard on the Solara convertible and is optional on the Solara coupe. (Camry LE and XLE are available with the older 3.0-liter V6.) All V6 models come standard with a new five-speed automatic transmission.
Choose a Camry sedan, a Solara coupe or convertible, and you'll have a smooth, quiet car that will give you years of reliable service and will never annoy you.
The 2004 Toyota Camry sedan comes in three trim levels: LE, SE, and XLE. Each comes with a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines. Only the four-cylinder LE and SE offer a manual transmission, and an automatic transmission is optional ($830). An automatic is standard on all other models.
The Camry Solara coupe comes in SE, SE Sport, and SLE trim levels. All coupes are available with a four-cylinder or V6; an automatic is standard on all except the four-cylinder SE and SE Sport, which come standard with manual.
The convertible comes only in SE and SLE trim, and only with a V6 and automatic.
The base four-cylinder Camry LE sedan ($19,045) comes with air conditioning; cruise control; power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry; AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo; a 60/40 split rear seat; and 15-inch steel wheels. The LE V6 ($22,260) adds ABS with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), an engine immobilizer, and 15-inch aluminum wheels.
The Camry SE ($19,875) is a sportier model, with higher-rate springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars, along with higher-effort steering and bigger (16-inch) wheels and tires. A three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and lots of bright trim add zing to the interior, and a power moonroof is standard. The SE V6 ($23,315) adds ABS, EBD, the engine immobilizer, and aluminum wheels.
The Camry XLE ($22,295) is the most luxurious model, featuring wood-grain trim, power driver and passenger seats, automatic climate control, JBL premium stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, driver information center, an alarm system with engine immobilizer, a cargo net, and a rear-window sunshade. Anti-lock brakes and automatic transmission are standard. The XLE V6 ($25,405) replaces the standard steel wheels with aluminum wheels.
The Solara SE coupe ($19,120) is the base level in the two-door lineup and comes standard with ABS, side-impact airbags, 16-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/cassette. The Solara SE V6 coupe ($21,450) is identically equipped.
The Solara SE Sport ($20,615) adds a sport-tuned suspension and steering, lower-profile summer tires on 17-inch wheels, and flashier trim inside and out. SE Sport V6 ($22,945) is similarly equipped.
The Solara SLE ($22,995) is the more luxurious model with automatic climate control, power moonroof, JBL stereo with six-disc CD changer, power seats and woodgrain interior trim. Choose the SLE V6 ($25,995) and you also get heated leather seats, and the same performance tires as the SE Sport.
Solara convertible models are similarly equipped to SE V6 and SLE V6 coupes. The sport-tuned suspension comes standard.
Leather upholstery is optional for the Camry SE and XLE and Solara SLE coupe ($1,220-$1,630). A navigation system is optional on the Camry SE V6 ($3,080) and XLE V6 ($2,670), and Solara SLE V6 coupe ($1,350).
We highly recommend ABS ($300) for models that don't come with it, along with side-impact and side-curtain airbags ($650) or, better still, a package for V6 sedans that includes the full set of airbags plus electronic stability control (VSC), traction control, and brake assist ($1,300). Side-curtain airbags are available as a stand-alone option on any coupe ($400), but electronic stability control ($650) is offered only on the SLE V6.