1999 Toyota Camry Solara Review

Used Camry Solara for sale
List Price Estimate:$955 - $2,330
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Toyota Camry Solara model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • It's basically a sporty coupe version of the already-excellent Camry.
  • The Accord Coupe is slightly quicker and has a one-year head start in market share.

Vehicle overview

With unique styling, increased horsepower, and a tighter suspension, the all-new Solara is more than just a two-door Camry. O.K., so it's based on the Camry platform and uses the same engine and suspension components, but almost every aspect of this sporty coupe has been, how can we saySolara-ized to give it more fun, less ho-hum.

Available in two basic trim levels, the SE or SLE, Toyota's new sport coupe comes with either a 135-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine or a 200-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6. Either engine can be had in the SE model but the premium grade SLE only comes with the V6 and automatic transmission. For buyers looking to get the maximum sport out of this sport coupe, the combination V6 and five-speed manual can be had in the SE model.

For handling duty, Toyota took the Camry's basic, and somewhat spongy, suspension and made it stiffer, with increased strut rates and a brace that joins the front strut towers together. They also reinforced the transom between the trunk and the passenger compartment and stiffened the front and rear suspension mounts for improved overall body rigidity.

To make sure drivers noticed all the work they did, engineers redesigned the power steering valve assembly to offer increased steering effort and improved road feel versus the rather numb feeling delivered through the Camry's steering wheel.

For interior comfort, Toyota pulled out all the stops with Lexus-like sound-deadening and a gaggle of standard equipment. Everything from cruise control to woodgrain trim to power windows, locks, and mirrors are standard on every Solara. A first for Toyota is the optional JBL premium sound system that powers eight speakers from a 200-watt amplifier. SE level options include heated sideview mirrors, automatic climate control, keyless entry, and a perforated leather-trimmed interior with eight-way power adjustable driver's seat.

Safety is always high on Toyota's list of priorities, and the Solara's standard safety features reflects this philosophy. Included among them are driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger seat belt pretensioners and antilock brakes (optional on four-cylinder models, standard with the V6). Optional side airbags can also be ordered and, as with all '99 Toyota cars, daytime running lights are standard. If you purchase an SLE model, traction control is another safety option that can be checked on the order sheet.

How will the Solara do against the new Accord Coupe and the soon to return Ford Thunderbird? If it follows typical Toyota protocol, quite well.

1999 Highlights

This all-new coupe is based on the Camry platform. Designed jointly by the Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan and the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Solara is targeted at consumers who want the style of a sports car but the room and comfort of a larger, more practical vehicle.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1999 Toyota Camry Solara.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars
Best Car Ever Built
SLE V6 2dr Coupe
My Toyota Solara just hit 220,000 miles and still has the ORIGINAL alternator, motor, transmission, radiator, hoses, A/C compressor, and much much more. All the car ever needs is gas and oil to run for an infinite amount of miles. There is no rust at all and the interior still looks as if it is brand new. I recently had the car in the transmission shop because the rubber seal had cracked from age, he was absolutely astounded that most of the parts are original, especially the transmission which he claims if the oldest highest mileage one he has seen in his career. He said the car, if taken care of, will EASILY see 350,000. I will never own a better car in my life, truly on a level of its own
5 out of 5 stars
SLE V6 2dr Coupe
I've racked up over 300,000 miles on this thing and the engine still starts and runs as quiet as the day I bought it back when it had 70K miles on it. The only mistake I've ever made was a valve repair job at the Toyota dealership that cost me $1300. Could've taken it anywhere else for half that price. Outside of that, for a car to be this old, replacing parts is normal, but infrequent. It's ridiculously over-powered and has higher horse power, torque, and towing capacity than some brand new SUVs. Why Toyota decide a car this size needed this much power in it's class, who knows. I've never towed a damn thing with it. I love this car. I talk to it and tell it so. I believe it loves me too.
4.63 out of 5 stars
The best car for the money!
SE 2dr Coupe
I purchased this Solara in 2002 and it had 75,000 miles on it. It now has 200,000 miles and has been Uber Reliable. I put one timing belt on it and a starter that I got off eBay for 60 bucks. This car has never failed me and is as smooth today with 200k as it was with 75k. I plan to drive it another 200k and I think it will make it just fine.
4.13 out of 5 stars
Sex on Wheels
SLE V6 2dr Coupe
I have owned this car since it was new and I have never had a moment that I couldn't share about it. I driven far and wide, through North America and I would definitely consider it to be the best car I have ever driven. It's smooth, quiet, luxuriously appointed, yet sporty and great to look at. The drive quality is above average, the performance is great, though over-time it's best to use Amsoil Synthetic Motor Oil to retain the original performance of the car. The car handles great after I added a custom 2002 Solara suspension to the car and slightly tuned the new shocks to give it a bit more grip and feel to the road! Overall an amazing car that I recommend to anyone that loves cars!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1999 Toyota Camry Solara
More About This Model

Sitting in my third-floor, West L.A. apartment, I can push the blinds aside, peer out over the rooftops, and (after my eyes adjust to the hazy sunlight) see a billboard for the new Toyota Solara that proclaims, "Two Doors. No Guilt." Hmm, no guilt. I'm not sure if that's the most effective method of marketing a new model that is supposed to be more than just a two-door Camry.

After spending a week behind the wheel of this latest coupe to come from a Japanese automaker, it's apparent that a no-guilt Camry is exactly what Toyota was after when it created the Solara. Styled at Toyota's CALTY Design Center in Newport Beach, Calif., the new Solara has a new look but a familiar feel. Rather than stray too far from the monumentally successful recipe that gave Camry its best-selling car title, Toyota has created a two-door acorn that fell right next to the tree. This is both good ... and bad.

Good in the fact that all the traits we've come to expect in the practical, people-moving Camry are still present in the Solara. In this particular SE model, that included a smooth-revving 3.0-liter V6 (a 2.2-liter inline four is standard) good for 200 horsepower. This is a fantastic powerplant that offers sufficient go-power, 20+ mpg in city driving, and rock-solid reliability. Out test unit, equipped with a four-speed automatic that occasionally missed a downshift, scampered to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. Unlike the Accord Coupe and Acura CL, you can order your V6 Solara with a five-speed manual transmission, which is said to do zero-to-60 in around seven seconds flat. With that kind of accelaration, Solara owners may feel a bit of pride with a touch of vanity, but guilt? Certainly not.

Handling is also Camry-like, with excessive wallow and sidewall roll when trying to negotiate tight corners. The standard 205/65R15 tires don't offer the kind of grip you'd need for serious slaloming, but an optional sport upgrade improves things with 16-inch wheels and revised rear suspension settings to improve stability. The Solara also gets a stiffer chassis and front suspension set-up than a Camry, plus a redesigned power steering system to give increased feedback during cornering maneuvers. It works in the sense that the coupe feels capable, if not downright sporty. Again, none of this adds up to guilt but rather a modest departure from the pure mundane-ness that is a Camry sedan.

Braking duty comes via four-wheel discs. ABS is optional on the four-cylinder model but standard on both the SE and SLE V6 models. Out test car exhibited outstanding braking characteristics that inspired confidence when battling it out on the mean streets of Los Angeles. The system also halted our car from 60 mph in 133 feet.

Once inside a Solara, its sedan origins become even more pronounced. There is a piece of wood trim that runs along the dash and a few minor tweaks to ergonomic layout but, otherwise, it is pure Camry. Thankfully, that includes a fully functional rear seat, which, by comparison, makes the Accord Coupe and Acura CL seem like two-seater sports cars. With the front seats moved all the way back, my six-foot frame still fit in the back seat with adequate legroom. Toyota's coupe also passed the reverse-facing baby seat test with flying colors, offering clearance to recline the front seats even with young Kirk Brauer riding in back. This is probably the Solara's single biggest advantage over the competition. Obviously entry and egress aren't as carefree as with a Camry sedan but, once you get everyone belted in, five normal-sized adults can be readily transported in total comfort. How many two-door vehicles can claim that?

Other interior features included a convenient set of cupholders with hinged covers, a CD player, cruise control, power windows/doors/mirrors and a power moonroof. Interior rattles and squeaks, along with wind or road noise at high speeds, were non-existent. As with the recently redesigned Camry, it seems that a bit of Lexus magic has made its way into the Solara. Toyota reports that vibration-damping and noise-suppresant materials are used throughout the cabin, as well as in the wheel housings, dash panel and trunk.

While we're on the subject of trunks, it should be noted that, although trunk space is generous for a car in this class, the Solara's shape has compromised its ease of loading and unloading. Specifically, when trying to load a folded-up baby carriage, I found that the outward curve of the rear window cut sharply into the trunk's opening, requiring the carriage to be held at a creative angle to slide it between the taillights and trunklid's hinges. However, as with passengers, once the carriage was inside the Solara's trunk, it had plenty of room to relax and stretch out.

During our test drive around L.A. we noticed a conspicuous lack of head-turning with Toyota's new coupe. This is still a relatively new model and, if nothing else, at least its body design and overall look are different from a Camry. So why the disinterest from what is notoriously a car-crazy town when it comes to new vehicles? We can only assume that, with all those billboards broadcasting the Solara's shape above Los Angeles, everyone already knew what it was.

Even though our SE had the V6, it wasn't as luxurious as the top-line Solara SLE that comes standard with a perforated leather-trimmed interior, eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry (our test car had this as an option), automatic climate control, heated side-view mirrors, a HomeLink remote-control system and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. In addition, the SLE can be ordered with traction control but it can't be ordered with the five-speed manual.

Areas where the Solara recorded "in need of improvement" marks included the front seats (more lateral support) the suspension (less wallow) and the standard 15-inch wheels (cheap looking wheel covers). It could also use a slight power increase and maybe a couple bulges or fender flares to give the body some additional character. It's not that we don't like the Solara's look, we just think it needs more reasons to stop and take notice.

If you feel like a theme, suggesting that the Solara should be sportier, is developing, you're right. Much like Honda with its new Accord coupe, Toyota has tried to create more than just a two-door version of its best-selling sedan. Unfortunately, they haven't really succeeded. Where the Accord coupe looks and feels very different from its four-door brethren, the Solara just seems like a stylish two-door Camry. Once again, that's good in the sense of interior roominess, mechanical longevity and overall design, but bad in the sense that, as a coupe buyer, if you're writing off the practicality of four-doors, you're probably expecting something back in the way of performance.

By offering a five-speed manual version of the Solara, Toyota has given its coupe a major advantage over the Honda/Acura models. Why not follow that up with a true performance engine and suspension? If not as standard equipment, at least as an option. Unfortunately, the Accord and CL possess interior, exterior and mechanical designs that are more distinctive (and more performance oriented) than the Solara's.

The solution may be on its way in the form of a convertible and/or high performance version of the Solara. Rumor has it that TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is even tinkering with the idea of creating a supercharged Solara that will make 250 horsepower! We're not sure about guilt, but at that point there would be plenty of gluttony, lust and envy associated with the Solara, which is just what this car needs.

Used 1999 Toyota Camry Solara Overview

The Used 1999 Toyota Camry Solara is offered in the following submodels: Camry Solara Coupe. Available styles include SE 2dr Coupe, SE V6 2dr Coupe, and SLE V6 2dr Coupe. Pre-owned Toyota Camry Solara models are available with a 2.2 L-liter gas engine or a 3.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 200 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1999 Toyota Camry Solara comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Toyota Camry Solara?

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Which used 1999 Toyota Camry Solaras are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Toyota Camry Solara?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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