2008 Toyota Camry Solara Performance
Despite being marketed as more of a sports-vehicle than it really is, the Camry Solara's smooth handling, combined with a receptive suspension system and a quiet, dependable powertrain, still impress. Kelley Blue Book calls the Solara "a superb road car."
From a road manners standpoint, the Solara is perhaps a little too refined. "Not to take anything away from Toyota's product planners, but they really screwed up this time: The Camry Solara is so refined that it ought to have been the coupe version of the Lexus ES300," says Automobile Magazine. "Yes, it's all good," adds MSN -- and reviewers generally agree. In fact, Kelley Blue Book calls the Solara "a superb road car," noting that "its smooth ride is neither mushy nor devoid of road feel." Automobile Magazine sums it up best, saying that "the evenly matched brakes, steering, and body motions of the Solara's sport-tuned suspension" instill enough confidence in them to want to "push the tires and the skid-control system well past their thresholds."
Acceleration and Power
The SE and Sport Coupe are powered by a standard 155-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 158 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, and come equipped with a five-speed manual transmission (automatic optional). Also available for the SE and Sport is a 210-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine that makes 220 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. A standard five-speed automatic transmission completes this powertrain. While both engine options are available for the SLE Coupe, it's only offered with a five-speed automatic transmission.
With regard to acceleration, Kelley Blue Book states that even though the Solara isn't "whiplash inducing, the acceleration provided by this engine is more than adequate for everyday driving." In fact, most agree that the Solara, whether Sport trim or not, is far from an actual sport-performance vehicle. Auto reviewers at the come to a similar conclusion, noting "if you want a thrill ride, look elsewhere," and adding "this is a car for drivers in need of comfort, not stimulation." Even so, they assert that it's still "a practical car for everyday use." New Car Test Drive adds, "For most people, this is not an issue."
Solara coupe trims register an estimated EPA fuel economy (city/highway) of 21/31 miles per gallon for manual transmissions and 22/31 mpg and 18/27 mpg for automatic four-cylinder and V6 models, respectively. Although the Solara's a few miles per gallon short of bragging rights, auto reviewers still generally agree with MSN's assertion that its overall fuel economy is pretty "decent."
Handling and Braking
Highly praised for its finely tuned suspension, reviewers such as New Car Test Drive and the describe the Solara's road feel as being "soft" and "smooth," as well as "gentle." Automobile Magazine describes their test drive of the SLE V6 as giving off "the impression of silky refinement," and writes that "no trim package can account for the way the SLE smoothed out the curviest road we could throw at it."
All 2008 Solara trim levels come equipped with a standard MacPherson strut in the front and a dual-link independent MacPherson strut in the rear. Standard on both sides are gas-filled shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar. Additional sport-tuned shock absorbers, springs and front/rear stabilizer bars are included with the Sport Coupe.
Edmunds explains, "On the road, the Toyota Camry Solara's suspension tuning delivers a comfortable ride. The added stiffness of the SE Sport model gives it enough capability to have some fun through corners while still maintaining the civilized ride quality of the other models."
All 2008 Toyota Camry Solaras come standard with a four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brake system (ABS). Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) and Brake Assist are also available for V6 models -- and are meant to ensure stopping power in even the most adverse driving conditions.
Still, Automotive.com notes that "there's a slack in the pedals." Drivers, however, shouldn't worry because even though "the soft throttle and brakes process your inputs gradually…they also reward with smooth, linear output."