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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Toyota Solara Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Toyota Solara Overview

Solara Flare

In a dramatic turn of events, the once reserved and stately Toyota Solara has been sent to pasture, replaced by a spicy new model intended to draw in a younger, more hip crowd. Though the new Solara still rides on the same wheelbase as last year's car, it sees a number of improvements in the areas of power, space and packaging.

The Solara is available in three trims: SE, SE Sport and SLE. The convertible model goes into limbo for a short time with no word yet as to whether it will reappear as a 2005 model.

Looking at the 2004 Solara, one can see the influences of cars like the sporty Celica and the luxurious Lexus SC430 coupe. Toyota says it designed the Solara with an arc-shape theme that runs from the front bumper, up over the hood and down to the rear bumper. Massive jeweled headlamp lenses flank a new V-shaped front grille and a set of integrated front fog lights is set into an aggressive front air dam. The Solara's side windows seem narrower this year, set off by a wavy beltline that flows from the tip of the front fender all the way to the trunk. The new body treatment is finished with a tapered rear-end that includes a rounded trunk lid and a large set of tear-drop-shaped taillights.

The Solara is a superb road car; its smooth ride is neither mushy nor devoid of road feel. You may find the steering wheel to be a bit heavy in the turns, but the overall feeling it transmits is one of precision and control with no notable play. Power for the Solara is provided by a robust 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; rated at 157 horsepower, this engine is surprisingly quick for it's size and actually quite playful when teamed with the standard five-speed manual transmission. The really big news for the Solara is the new-found power of its 3.3-liter V6 engine, which now boosts an impressive 225 horsepower. V6 powered Solara's come standard with a new five-speed sequential automatic transmission that allows you the option of manually selecting when you want to change gears.

Inside, Toyota has taken steps to preserve the roomy feel of the old Solara while improving on its appearance. The new dash features a swooping center section that flows down to meet a wide center console. At the top of the dash are three hooded binnacles that house a clock, trip computer and readouts for the automatic climate control. Storage space has been greatly increased by the addition of a large bin beneath the center armrest and a new set of console mounted cup holders. SE Sport models get a handsome silver-faced finish that covers the audio and HVAC control panels while the more luxurious SLE receives burl wood trim on the dash and doors.

We've always loved the interior of the Solara, not just for its perfect fit and finish, but also for the comfortable manner in which it cradles its passengers. You won't find as roomy of a rear seat in any of the Solara's rivals, nor will you find such a large and accommodating trunk. The front seats are simply without criticism; they offer excellent support for the legs, thighs and lower back and they are covered in your choice of handsome woven cloth or real leather. Just about every creature comfort comes standard on the new Solara, including power windows, power door locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, ABS brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, AM/FM stereo with CD, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, color-keyed dual power mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted controls for audio and trip computer and two 12-volt power outlets.

At this point, you've got to be wondering what's left to add on, but believe it or not, Toyota offers still more. The SE Sport adds an aggressive exterior trim package, stiffer springs and shocks and 17-inch wheels and tires. The SE Sport's interior features black graphite trim, black sport seats and a leather shift knob and steering wheel. The top-of-the-line SLE warms the interior's feel by replacing the graphite and silver trim with real wood and leather. SLE models also get dual-zone automatic climate control, a power glass sunroof, auto-dimming side and rear-view mirrors, power drivers seat with power adjustable lumbar support, 3-in-1 audio with cassette and an in-dash six-disc CD changer; SLE V6 models have heated leather seats and 17-inch alloy wheels as standard equipment.

Optional equipment for the 2004 Solara includes a DVD-based navigation system and XM Satellite radio.

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