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1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

4dr Sdn LE V6 Manual

Starting at | Starting at 21 MPG City - 28 MPG Highway

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  • $21,948 original MSRP
Printable Version

1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

Printable Version

1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

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1999 Toyota Solara

Source: New Car Test Drive

by Albert Hall

Sexy and practical.

Base Price $19,058
As Tested $27,454

Interested in a car that's as solid and dependable as the Toyota Camry, with a more youthful look and more sex appeal? The 1999 Solara coupe could be your ticket.

The new Solara offers almost everything that has made Camry America's best-selling car for two consecutive years, including smooth, quiet performance, appliance-style function and a reputation for stone reliability. Unlike the Camry, the Solara features two-door swoopy coupe styling and a sportier edge. Toyota builds Solara with something that's hard to find in a mid-priced coupe: an optional manual transmission available with the optional V6 engine.

The Solara is new for the 1999 model year, at least by appearances. Underneath its exterior sheetmetal rest the basic mechanical underpinnings of a Camry, with some tweaking here and there. In an era when the coupe seems to be a vanishing breed, will Solara appeal to enough buyers? Toyota thinks so.

Walkaround

Once-popular coupes like the Buick Riviera and Ford Thunderbird have recently gotten the axe. A few coupes are selling well, but more are struggling. So what's behind Toyota's decision to build a high-profile coupe? Call it changing demographics.

The marketing jargon goes like this: Leading Edge Baby Boomers are increasingly Empty Nesters. Freed from responsibility for small children, and maybe even mortgages and college tuition, these buyers are ready to splurge on themselves. They're nostalgic for big, long-hooded coupes, but aren't ready to turn their backs on practicality. Toyota calls Solara "a well-deserved indulgence" -- exactly what it thinks these empty-nest Boomers are looking for.

Solara's styling is unique. With strong character lines and a wide, aggressive rear end, the Solara is more expressive than a Camry, and more interesting to the eye. Of course, Toyota doesn't want shoppers to completely forget the Camry, or its reputation for quality and reliability. That's why the coupe's official name is Camry Solara.

Solara is available with a 2.2.-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional 3.0-liter V6, both offered in the Camry. It's built on the same 105-inch wheelbase, although Solara gets extra bracing in the front end and behind the rear seat to stiffen the chassis. It has firmer suspension settings than Camry, and a recalibrated power steering system that delivers heavier, more direct feel at the wheel. It's all intended to make Solara drive more like a sports car, and to that end Toyota offers a five-speed manual transmission with the V6. That combo isn't available on the Honda Accord Coupe or Chrysler Sebring Coupe.

The base Solara comes well equipped. The standard package includes air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, and Toyota's five-year/60,000 mile warranty. Like the Camry, Solara is available with optional side-impact airbags.

The Inside Story

Solara feels a bit different than the Camry the moment you sit in the driver's seat. The dashboard hints at a cockpit-style instrument panel. It flows into the door panels, accented by a strip of tasteful faux wood trim.

In some color combinations, the plastic, vinyl and leather interior share the rich look and feel of Toyota's upscale Lexus cars. Still, there are things to quibble about. Shoulder belts are not height-adjustable. The storage bins on the door panels are a little too narrow to be really useful, and the center console could have used some of the faux wood that trims the dash.

The Solara driver looks at a crisp, legible, well-lit cluster of three gauges, with the speedometer in the center, tachometer left and the fuel gauge and water temperature on the right. The stereo buttons are big and easy to find with minimal distraction; the volume and tuning dials sit closest to the driver, exactly where they should be.

Simple radial climate-control switches allow easy adjustments. The fan is a bit loud at full speed, but almost inaudible on lower settings. Solara has both a cigarette lighter and an extra power outlet. From the stalk-mounted wiper controls to the sunroof button overhead, switch placement and operation are first rate.

So are the seats. The optional leather is supple and perfectly tailored, while the seats themselves are soft enough to be comfortable yet firm enough to keep the driver from feeling lazy. The seatbacks have a memory feature, so they return to the same incline position when they're leaned forward. The front passenger seat has a toe operated lever that slides the whole seat forward for easy access to the rear.

Solara is not a 2+2 coupe -- it's a full four-seater. Solara's three-place rear seat accommodates two 6-foot adults in reasonable comfort. Grab handles, a padded armrest and an ashtray are available for back-seat passengers. In short, accommodations are better than adequate for taking friends out for a night on the town. When it's necessary to carry oversize packages, the rear seat folds flat to expand trunk space.

Ride & Drive

When the Solara idles, the driver feels almost no vibration through the steering wheel, seats or floorboard. The only hint the car is running comes as a faint resonance in the gas pedal. Pick up steam and that silky smooth quality remains. At freeway pace, there's little wind noise in the Solara's cabin on the windiest days.

Full steam in the Solara comes in short order. With healthy torque, the V6 delivers a steady flow of acceleration. The four-speed automatic, which most Solara buyers will choose, takes full advantage of that power. Downshifts are as immediate as a jab at the gas pedal, and passing maneuvers are a breeze. Off the line, a Solara V6 automatic manages 0-60 mph runs in the low 7-second range, making it one of the quickest cars in its class.

When the road changes direction sharply and frequently, the Solara bears up well. The steering is less numb than that in the Camry sedan. It's more progressive in the effort required by the driver, a little bit sharper, and quick enough to keep up with rapid direction changes.

But the Solara is not a sports car. It's basic handling characteristic is understeer -- a pushing at the front of the car the helps keep drivers from getting in over their heads. It has more body roll, or lean through the corners, than a sports car. But it is well controlled as the car's weight shifts from side. Solara is competent on all kinds of roads, and its supple ride keeps driver and passengers comfortable in all circumstances.

For entertainment value, the manual transmission gives Solara an edge on competitors. The five-speed adds another level of driver involvement, and it quickens acceleration performance.

We're not as enamored of Solara's optional traction-control system, however. Traction control works by limiting engine power when the drive wheels slip, and the Solara's system might be useful in climates where slippery conditions are a constant problem. Yet managing power in a front-wheel-drive automobile is less demanding than in a rear-drive car to begin with. And the Solara's system is so aggressive that it turns the car into a turtle in conditions that aren't that difficult. Fortunately, a switch allows the driver to turn it off when it's not needed.

Does Solara have that intangible quality enthusiast drivers call personality? That's a hard thing to define. Certainly, it doesn't have the spirit of performance of favorites like BMW's 3 Series coupe. On the other hand, compared to some of the vanilla-flavored cars from staid, reliable Toyota, the Solara has personality. It doesn't beg to be driven like a race car, but it doesn't wilt under pressure, either.

Solara can get the blood pumping fast enough to more than satisfy most drivers. The Honda Accord coupe, Solara's most obvious competitor, has slightly more responsive steering, yet it doesn't feel as substantial as the Solara. And compared to the Chrysler Sebring coupe, or just about any car in the class, the Solara is smoother and quieter.

Final Word

The success or failure of coupes probably depends less on fads or trends in the auto market and more on how well a particular car is executed.

The Camry Solara is well executed. It's solid, roomy and reasonably fun to drive. Anyone seeking the mix of looks, performance and practicality that defines a good coupe should have Solara on the shopping list.

Of course, this ticket can be expensive. The Solara we tested topped $27,000; other preferred options, like a premium stereo or the traction control, will push the price closer to the $30,000 mark. There are dozens of alternatives for that money, from pure sports cars to fine sedans to sport-utility vehicles. Even among coupes, Solara competitors such as the Sebring offer as much visual impact for a few thousand dollars less.

It's up to the buyer whether Toyota's reputation for quality and rock-solid reliability is worth the price premium.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Opt
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Printable Version

1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Toyota Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Warranty*
7-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty**
1-year of Roadside Assistance***
160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection
CARFAX® Vehicle History Report"****

Certified customers are eligible for standard new car financing rates*****

*Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

**Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.

***From date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. Covers most services, including flat tires, lockout service, jump starts, fuel delivery up to 3 gallons and towing for mechanical breakdown or collision recovery to the nearest Toyota dealership. Services provided exclude any parts required. Coverage not available in Mexico. See Certified Warranty Supplement for warranty details.

****Beginning December 1, 2005 CARFAX® Vehicle History Reports" are a required part of every Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. See your local dealer for details.

*****Rates mentioned are for standard new car rates, and do not include new car specials or subvented rates. Not all buyers will qualify. Financing available through Toyota Financial Services for qualified buyers only.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 7 years / 85,000
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection All TCUV vehicles must pass a comprehensive checklist that includes a 160-point inspection. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Toyota is in perfect condition. To see full inspection list visit http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 1-year of Roadside Assistance from date of TCUV purchase.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1999 Toyota Camry Sedan

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