Guide: 5=Perfect; 3=Good; 1=Poor
Pros: What do you like about your 2008 Toyota Camry Solara?
Comfortable back seat.
Driver's seat adjustments.
Bells and whistles: auto climate, GPS, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls, seat warmers.
Cons: How would you improve your 2008 Toyota Camry Solara?
Redesign drive train to eliminate pronounced throttle hesitation.
Stiffen suspension for a sportier ride and better control.
Change geometry to give better rear visibility.
Enlarge rear window.
2008 Toyota Camry Solara Review:
This model is a convertible. I selected this because it's one of the few convertibles on the market that will comfortably seat four. It's a two-door with sporty styling, but don't be fooled: This is a sedan in coupe's clothing.
Its V6 provides ample power, and the transmission's "S" mode allows greater control, though still a pale imitation of manual transmission driving. The suspension gives the feel of an American sedan, not an import coupe. It handles most conditions well, except medium-sized bumps which tend to make it feel like it's having resonant vibrations. I would prefer a stiffer, sportier suspension though the tradeoff would be a harder ride. Steering is good and typical of mid-size car. Despite the available power, the throttle hesitates horriby in quick acceleration. This seems to be common complaint with the Solara for at least the last couple of model years.
The convertible top is easy to operate by a lone driver. The boot for the top when down requires one person to visit both sides of the car a couple of times to get it seated but it's a quick process. The boot folds to store in the truck but is a bit bulky and awkward. At highway speed, rippling from airflow is evident in the boot which makes me wonder about how well it will wear over the long term. Rear visibility is poor; with the top down and boot on I can only see the top half of the windshield and roof of the car behind me. With the top down, visibility is even more constrained by the small rear window.
There are not independent window controls for the rear side windows, although a single control in the front allows all four windows to be controlled at once, first raising or lowering the rear then the front windows.
My model is feature-rich, with auto climate control, GPS system, multi-CD changer, seat warmers, Bluetooth interface for phones. However, the user interface for the GPS system is not intuitive, and the Bluetooth does not offer the simplest features like tapping in the phone's own voice command system and contact list (my portable Garmin nuvi GPS does a great job at both of these, and only cost $350, a fraction of the cost of the GPS option in the Solara). Steering wheel-mounted controls are convenient, though lack a mute button, like I have on my '99 Toyota Sienna van.
Overall it's a wonderful car that is fun to drive with the top down and will turn a few heads. And the kids can sit in the back without the front headrests in their noses.
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