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2007 Toyota Solara. (Mike Scholz/Toyota)
2007 Toyota Solara. (Mike Scholz/Toyota)

2007 Toyota Solara

The late, lamented Toyota Solara Add to ...

In 2007, the Toyota Solara got some restyling changes and a few engineering tweaks. Nothing major, mind you, this was considered to be a carryover model.

Still offered as either a two-door coupe or convertible, the body was nipped and tucked, and the five-speed automatic transmission became standard issue and the only choice. Two powerplants were available: a 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.3-litre V-6. Brakes were four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brace force distribution. Essentially, the Solara was a Camry with different sheet metal and slightly better handling.

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This was also the year the Society of Automotive Engineers changed its horsepower rating system. For example, the ’06 version of the V-6 model apparently developed 15 more horsepower than the ’07, despite the fact that the engine was unchanged.

Either way, the Solara placed comfort over performance and was not one of the livelier models in this category. Suspension duties were handled by MacPherson struts front and back with gas shocks and stabilizer bars, but tossable the Solara was not. On the other hand, reasoned Toyota at the time, typical Solara buyers weren’t particularly interested in straightening out the corners anyway, so there you go.

Still, the Solara – like many Toyota products – had an impressively high level of refinement. Fit and finish was exemplary, and the convertible top, which deployed in about 10 seconds, featured a glass rear window. Switchgear in particular was very useable and light to the touch.

The standard equipment level was high for the car’s less than-$30,000 base price. Air conditioning, CD player with steering-wheel-mounted controls, power windows with one-touch up/down feature, keyless entry, cruise control, a tire-pressure warning system, heated outside mirrors, dual stage front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain airbags, and 60/40 folding rear seat were all standard.

The V-6 Sport version added things like a re-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels and tires, power sunroof, “sport fabric” seats and slightly different front and rear fascia panels. Step up to the top-of-the-range SLE and you got heated leather seats, wood trim, Bluetooth capability, anti-theft system and various other goodies.

One small note here: trunk space for the Solara coupe was a titch less than the Camry. Fold down the 60/40 rear seat and you revealed 390 litres of cargo room. Just enough for a set or two of golf clubs.

Toyota was also losing its enthusiasm for the Solara in 2007. One year later, it was history.

There is only one safety recall to report for this vintage of the Solara. It comes from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and concerns a possibly faulty side curtain airbag. If it’s not secured adequately, this airbag could fail in the event of a vehicle rollover. Dealers will fix this gratis, if it hasn’t already been dealt with.

Ten technical service bulletins are on file with NHTSA. They range from a relatively trivial rattle emanating from the exhaust system, to a possibly leaky sunroof, to minor electrical glitches, to updates for service personnel. No real glaring flaws or problems to report, though.

As far as Consumer Reports is concerned, the Solara – for all years – was one of the better ones out there. It receives this organization’s highest ratings in virtually every area. Apparently, the convertible version could exhibit body shake and some issues with the soft top have surfaced, but it nonetheless garners CR’s top used-car prediction rating. Some comments from owners: “Quiet for a convertible,” “great fit and finish,” “only four can ride comfortably” and “Blind spots! Blind spots! Blind spots!” Inferior rear visibility is a common complaint, as is the fact that Toyota ceased production.

Market research firm J.D. Power is firmly on the fence with the ’07 Solara. Things like powertrain quality and dependability receive praise, but areas such as accessories and interior quality don’t fare too well. Still, this generation of the Solara receives a better than average – but not the best – rating for overall vehicle dependability.

These days, a four-year-old Solara is going for a little less than half of what it cost new. Prices range from the low teens for the coupe, going up to the $20,000 neighbourhood for the convertible, depending upon trim level, of course. Expect to pay at least $3,000 more for the soft-top version.

globedrive@globeandmail.com

Tech specs

2007 Toyota Solara

Original Base Price: $29,200-$36,500; Black Book: $14,050-$20,800; Red Book: $13,425-$17,825

Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder/3.3-litre V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 155 hp/158 lb-ft for four; 210 hp/220 lb-ft for V-6

Transmission: Five-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 9.5 city/6.3 hwy (four-cylinder); regular gas

Drive: Front-wheel

Alternatives: Honda Accord Coupe, Pontiac G6, Ford Mustang, Mitsubishi Eclipse

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