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Toyota Solara Headrests

drc28drc28 Posts: 1
I am in the process of choosing between a SAAB 9-3 and the Solara SLE convertible. My major problem with the Toyota is the poor visibility out of the rear window with the headrests and the small window. Also, a recent article in Motor Trend said that the rear window turns into "jelly" and is a very difficult to see out of when that happens. I do love the style of the Toyota especially when the top is down , however, am concerned about the visibility. My current car is a sedan and the rear visibility is perfect. However, i know that it is different in the convertible. I didnt expect it to be dangerous. I have read all the posts and would still love any comments on how everyone manages to drive with it and can live with it.


  • indykenindyken Posts: 6
    Regarding your concerns about the rear visibility...I just got out of a tundra access cab with excellent visibility and when i drove the solara converible off the lot I was sure I was going to hate it. A few days later and I don't miss the tundra one bit!

    The back window does take a little getting used to, but once you're there and you know how to use the mirrors, etc, it is a breeze. My back window does not "turn to jelly." Overall, I'm really VERY impressed with how stable the windshield, dash and rear window are. Sure, there is a little shake, but not nearly what I noticed with the Volvo convertible, and the Sebring? GET OUT OF HERE! That thing felt like it was going to fly apart over every bump in the road.

    I have about 700 miles on my car (with a lot of rainy midwest days) and I've never, after the first few days, felt there are ANY visibility problems. It's a learning curve, but don't let it stop you. I didn't drive the lates Saab convertible, but the Solara is much better than the last saab body!

    Good luck!
  • No problems w/ the rear window "turning to jelly", but the small rear window and the headrests definitely take some getting used to. I was in an Accord sedan and could see everything. Ater 1,000 miles on the solara, I'm pretty comfortable in normal driving, but backing up is still an adventure and I dread the thought of parallel parking in a tight space.

    I mentioned the visibility problem to a friend. He quoted a trucker friend who is fond of pointing out that the center/rear-view mirror is a luxury... just rely on the side mirrors. So the other day I let this friend drive - with the top down - and he too complained about the headrests obscuring his view!

    Buy it anyway!
  • I was thinking of removing the back seat headrests to create more visability. Someone mentioned to me though that they might offer some protection in a roll over. Didn't read anything about any type of roll over protection in the owners manual at all. Has anyone else heard anything about this?
  • smz2smz2 Posts: 7
    Has anyone successfully removed the rear headrests from an '04 or '05 convertible?
  • smz2smz2 Posts: 7
    Were you able to remove the rear headrests? If so what did it entail and what did you put in there place? Thanx (I think it would be great)
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    The headrests are part of the roll-over protection system. They cannot and should not be removed.
  • tstarkeytstarkey Posts: 2
    I've done my research on convertibles and decided that the Solara SLE is the best value for the money... but I hesitate to buy one because of the IMHO major visibility problem seeing what's behind you. I drive on heavy traffic, high speed Xpressways in Miami, night and day. And the view you get out that rear window with the top up just isn't good enough for safe Xpressway driving, let alone backing out of a spot in a crowded parking lot. I saw a white Solara convertible yesterday that simply removed the rear head rests completely. Is this legal/advisable? Are there any other ways of getting around this (IMHO) fatal flaw in this otherwise excellent convertible.
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    The rear headrest serve as rollover protection, primarily for those in the back seat. If not illegal, at the very least it is inadvisable to remove them. If you are ever in a wreck and anyone in the back seat is injured, you can say goodbye to your house, car, and everything else you own.

    Visibility in the Solara is only slightly worse than other convertibles. IMO, the blind spot caused by the side of the top itself is a bigger issue than the headrests. This is part of the price you pay for a convertible.

    By the way, the visibility with the top down is great. If I lived in Miami, I'd probably never put the top up unless it was raining.
  • tstarkeytstarkey Posts: 2
    Doug, even in Miami, 90% of the time you're going to have the top up. When I got behind the wheel of the Solara at the dealers, and tried to figure out what rapidly moving traffic behind me would look like, especially at night on the Xpressways, I just didn't feel confident that I'd have the visual information needed to drive down here. BTW, I have owned three convertibles in the past (in Miami), and while there's always less visibility than in a regular coupe, I've never seen this much visual obstructuon of the rear window (or such a small real window either).
  • do you know when the '06 Toyota Solara SLE convertible refresh is coming out? I heard from a dealer here in No. Cal that they have builds in the system now -- should be avail late Mar or early April 2005. Can anyone confirm? This would explain their $1k cash back on the '05's right now...

  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    My 2005 convertible (which I'm having major regrets about due to the discussions about rear visibility -can anyone see anything out of the rear view mirror? I never sat in or drove the car before ordering -I just drove the coupe) is due around the first of April. What will be new or different on the 2006? Perhaps I should have either waited or ordered a coupe. Of course I couldn't see anything out of the rear view mirror on the trucks I've rented either and I seemed to drive them ok on expressways.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I really worried about the rear window visibility after reading all these posts but after taking delivery of the convertible I don't really have a problem with it. You can see traffic behind you and on the corners of the back window -which is pretty big for a convertible- but really need to use the mirrors for side views because of the top. The rear headrests cut into visibility but it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.
  • I had so many regrets on my 2005 Solara SLE convertible purchase that I traded it back in for a 2002 identical to the one I traded in for the 2005.

    I am short and the lack of visibility was a real safety issue for me. I didn't notice the problem when I purchased it because I test drove it with the top down.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Posts: 266
    Visibility is an issue as it is with most glass-backlight ragtops, the past two generation Corvettes being some of the biggest offenders. Becoming proficient at using your side mirrors is a pretty easy fix for 99% of the situations that you find yourself in though.
  • I drive an Econoline for a living. I am proficient at using side mirrors. I have to be in a van that large.

    I think the true bottom line for me is that I just didn't like the vehicle as much as I do the previous generation Solara. The outside package is outstanding. It's what drew me to trade my old one in in the first place. It just didn't live up to my expectations in handling, maneuverability, or visibility as well as the ' 02/03 version does.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Posts: 266
    that is too bad, the previous generation Solara, aside from some shake, was a very nice car. You were lucky to get your old one back!
  • smjoesmjoe Posts: 1
    You mentioned that the rear headrests of the solara convertible serve as rollover protection. The dealer mentioned the same thing, but did not seem very confident in it. The
    convertibles with pop up rollover like bmw, audi, volvo, saab etc. all advertise their rollover protection but toyota does not? Do you know if toyota is safe in a rollover and where I might be able to find more info on it?

  • kittylady5kittylady5 Posts: 13
    Can the rear headrests be removed like the front in the 05 convertible? I find that they block 2/3's of the small window view.
  • kittylady5kittylady5 Posts: 13
    You're right. It was the first thing I noticed. The front headrests come out entirely. They should design it so that the rear ones can come out as well. I find that they take up 2/3's of visibility. Backing up will be no joy.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I noticed a Lexus convertible the other day. It seemed to have the same headrests. Someone said that the back window on the 2006 Solara was larger than the one on the 2005. The headrests in the back contribute to roll over protection I understand. They don't have them on other convertibles though -perhaps Toyota is a safety leader.
  • kittylady5kittylady5 Posts: 13
    There wasn't headrests in my 04 coupe. Someone should come up the the brilliant idea of designing a "pass-thru" on a convertible.There is way less trunk space in the rag top. I noticed that the boot sits very high compared to my Mustang Convertible. You can't see headlights on the car directly behind you. I wish I could take them out. I'm getting a vinyl "boot" bag made for storing the boot. My Mustang had a case. They should come with one for storage during the winter. I found some beautiful laser cut clear floor and trunk mats from Exactmats. You can still see the colored carpet through and they are slipproof. The trunk mat is great for spills.
  • adam10adam10 Posts: 7
    I bought an 06 SLE in May, and the rear headrests are terrible vision blockers on top of a small rear window to begin with, especially compared with my past 2 Sebrings. Being an engineer, I had to take them apart to see why. I took a bunch of photo's but since this is my first post I don't know how to add them, Any body know how?
    In any case, the rear headrests are indeed rollover bars of about 1@1/2 inch tubular steel shaped like an upside-down letter 'U' with some flat sheet steel bracing for a child car seat to click into. See the owner's manual for reference.
    Surprisingly with the plastic and foam headrests removed (easy), the vision out the window is greatly improved, and if the center bracing was removed (welded on) they would be no problem at-all to rearward visibility.
    I'm looking at a way of removing the sheet bracing and painting the roll bars 'tan' like the seat and making the headrests slip-on-off as the case may be. 'On', if passengers are in the rear seat or the top is down, 'Off', when the top is up, especially from Nov-Mar in St. Louis.
    If there were more Solara Convertibles around, I think after market suppliers would latch onto a fix. I think Toyota will eventually offer alternatives like pop-up roll bars like the 'big guys'.
  • I agree with your opinion of the rear head rests. We VERY rarely have anyone in the back seat, and want to remove ours. Any information you are willing to share would be appreciated. As they are part of the safety systems of the car, our dealer is not willing to help.

    Have you devised a cover for the mounting area that is exposed?
  • I am not sure how to post pictures, but would be very interested to see what the head rests look like without the plastic and foam. I have a 2004 which the rear visibility is horrible, from what I hear the headrests and window is slightly better on the 05-06 models, but still terrible. Please share whatever information you can on removing the headrests, I think many people would be as interested as I am. Thanks for your posting! Suzanne in CT
  • wtfay13wtfay13 Posts: 2
    Adam 10:
    I am not an engineer. I am a toy salesman. Would you share with all us frustrated Solara convertible drivers---how do you remove the entire head rest or at least how do you remove the plastic & foam
    thank you
    The desperate driver.
  • I've had my new 06 for a week now. I mentioned to the dealer during the test drive that I'll just remove the rear headrests for better visability; he didn't bother to mention that the headrests are not removeable. So this thread is of great interest to me!
    Please pursue an answer.
    Thanks in advance,
  • wtfay13wtfay13 Posts: 2
    I am not sure if the 2006 rear headrests are the same as the 2005. So this question might not apply but I will ask anyway.
    Right now I am more concerned with the visibility aspect than with the roll bar aspect.

    I hope to hear from you
    Thanks in advance,
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Posts: 266
    My best guess is that they do not come off, at least easily. They are safety items, not meant to be tampered with. Kinda like the old practice of cutting out the seatbelts. For all of you non-automotive types and kids, yes, this really was considered an ok thing to do, especailly when automatic shoulder belts were widely introduced in the early '70's.
    My reccomendation, learn to drive with your mirrors. I will admit that they are difficult to see around but you can adjust.
    I have back-up sensors on my new truck and have to admit, they should be standard equipment on EVERY new car or truck produced.
  • I am going to be picking up my 06 se solara convertible next week. I am interested to learn about the sensors, Where to get them and cost?
    I am also interested to know what else I should know when I pickup the car?
  • I've been enjoying the forum for a couple months, it's time to join. I plan to buy a new car next year and am between the Solara sle convertible, the acura tsx, and the acura A4 (convertible if at all possible $$ wise). Of course my dream car is the new T-bird but that's another matter . . .
    I do like the look of the solara, wish it could be a little shorter (and more Lexus-like). Am concerned about visibility - the 06 is supposed to have a different headrest but I haven't seen it.
    I've read many reviews and it's pretty well rated except some find it boring. With enough hp and torque, I don't mind boring.
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