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Toyota Solara Convertible - 2004 and Newer



  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    Consumerreports online has the same information, but doesn't have a full road test report like it does with most models. I am wondering if they have done a complete road test on the latest models.

    I just bought a Solara SLE convertible and I just don't see what they are talking about. I test drove and Audi S4, BMW 325, Chrysler Sebring, and the Solara SLE. The smooth ride and lack of noise of the SLE was very comparable to the Audi and BMW (and my 6'1" teenage son can actually sit in the back). The handling and features were certainly nicer in the $50K cars (price when you add navigation, etc.), and it would be nice to have a completely automatic top. If I didn't care about money and didn't need to cary anyone in the back seat, I'd take the Audi. However, I would put the performance and quality of the Solara much closer to the Audi and BMW than it is to the Sebring.

    If you want a convertible for $30K, the Sebring simply cannot compare. The engine noise was pronounced, and the interior was not finsished nearly as nice. I like the exterior styling of the Sebring better, but I spend more time looking at the interior :)

    If price is your main consideration, then you may want to try to pick up one of the 2004 Sebrings that are still on the lots. Dealers are being told that they can't have 2005s until they clear them out. It's still a good looking car and a decent value.
  • mcdaddymcdaddy Posts: 3
    I am just beginning my search for a car and have never owned a convertible. I definitely like the quality of Toyota products. I'd stick with my '01 C class, but I've had enough small problems to be concerned about the quality long term. I'll probably stay away from Chrysler for the same reason.

    I understand convertibles lack the structural support supplied by the roof, I was just concerned that I didn't see the comment in other convertible reviews.

    As you did, I plan several test drives of several makes and what the actual driving experience is.

    Question: can you be more specific on your comment of not having a "completely automatic" top? Thanks.
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    To open the top on the Toyota (and other sub-$40K cars), you release two levers/latches on the roof and push a button to automatically retract the roof. You then have the option of manually cover the retracted roof with a piece of fabric/leather that makes it look nicer and protects the folded roof against wind. When you close the roof, you have two re-close the latches once the roof deploys to complete the attachment. No big deal.

    On the Audi and BMW, there are no levers (they are automatic). What is really nice, however, is that a compartment opens up to swallow the roof when it retracts, eliminating the need to put on a cover. It is covered automatically with a pannel that looks like part of the body. Also no need to carry the cover in the trunk. Really cool, but perhaps not worth $15K extra.

    The real deal killer, however, was that neither the Audi nor BMW had room for my teenagers in the back with the front seat set where I like it (I am 5"10"). The back seats were for emergency use only. Perhaps in 3 years when they are both gone :)
  • maceemanmaceeman Posts: 2
    i also live in upstate ny and was lucky to find an '04 demonstrater red with tan top. you cant buy a better bad weather car. handling great on ice and snow, very quiet, heats up quickly. only drawbacks are no rear visibility(I just bouught some backup warning sensors) and disapointing gas mileage on the 6(tops out at 25 mpg)
  • maceemanmaceeman Posts: 2
    there are many aftermarket products that are easy to install. i just bought a simple sensor beeper after i backed into a car. look on ebay
  • jazzman1jazzman1 Posts: 13
    I am looking to buy a 2005 SE convertible with the sz and cf options. I have contacted several dealers and the best offer so far is 26,700. (they're quoting MSRP of 28,221). I live in the NY area and wonder what others are paying. I also wanted to know how much installing a back-up sensor helps and whether installing that and the wind screen after purchase would void anything in the warranty.
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    The windscreens that I have seen on the Internet appear to be Toyota parts, so warrenty should not be an issue (it shouldn't be even if the parts were not Toyota). Backup sensor probably depends on how it is installed.

    WInd screens are available online for less than $300, while the dealers charge around $400. I ordered one for $270 (they are available for less, but I used a site that had a few more references). When it arrives I'll let you know if I recommend using the site.
  • sosuesosue Posts: 3
    I too had the "pronounced body shake" problem with my car, an '04 purchased June '04. After two sets of tires, a front and rear alignment and balancing the wheels on the car, it finally rides fine. There was a service bulletin out on the car that they were coming out of the factory totally out of alignment, but the first Toyota dealer I visited paid no attention. Ended up with Goodyear Eagles on the car and they ride much better than the standard Toyota tire.

    Love the look of my car, but not too happy about maintenance issues....on my 3rd or 4th go round with my check engine light coming on...problem with the gas cap seal that the dealer can't seem to get fixed. Visors need replacing because they rattle. Driver window switch needed replaced and now the window itself rattles. Also doesn't have the gumption I hoped for....hit the accelerator and the car has to think about it for a second before it responds...I've become quite the conservative driver!

    But, when it's 70 and sunny I forget about all that!
  • jazzman1jazzman1 Posts: 13
    Two questions...What are people paying for SE convertible with the sz option and cf options. Is $26,700 reasonable for the NY area? Does the wind screen help and is it loud? Someone posted saying that they would rather not have it and I am curious to know more.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    Thanks - I haven't gotten my issue yet.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I ordered my 2005 SLE convertible a month ago. It is being built this week and will be a 2006 so says the dealer who looked at the paperwork. My dealer doesn't even have 2006 literature yet. I wonder what the difference is between the 2005 and 6 -probably not much since no one came back to me with any additional options.
  • tommyg12tommyg12 Posts: 158
    Not much, from the Toyota site:

    For 2006, value is enhanced with additional standard equipment and performance upgrades. All SE and SE sport grades will now receive a power driver’s seat lumbar support as standard equipment. Also, all four-cylinder models with automatic transmission have been upgraded from a four-speed automatic to a five-speed sequential automatic ECT-i, which uses electronic controls to ensure ultra-smooth shift quality. The driver controls the five-speed sequential automatic with a gated shifter, which allows manual shifting for a sporty driving experience.
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    I ordered a windscreen off the Internet (turns out is was from Dallas Toyota) for $270 versus the $400 charged by the dealer. Just a warning that the installation involves some drilling and removal/re-install of two interior pannels. Basically you are cutting a hole in the plastic (near the seat belt bezzel) that the screen will fit into and installing some re-inforcement.

    It looks pretty straightforward, but you should have seen my wifes face when I told her I would be using a cutting instrument on her brand new car. It would have been nice if Toyota had provided this information ahead of time.
  • wjovelwjovel Posts: 17
    douggreen,,Have you install the wind screen already? can a handy do it yourself guy can do it?? how difficult is to remove the panels? please let me know i am ready to buy one in the near future and see if i can install it my self. thanks in advance
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Posts: 266
    What CR still fails to realize is the fact that if you go around the corner too fast in an SUV it is going to tip over and if you wear your SCUBA flippers when you are operating an Audi, there is is a chance that you will hit the gas and or the brake by mistake.
    For them to even remotely grasp the concept of sawing an entire roof off of an automobile and NOT have some sort of body shake is a pretty tall order.
    I am surprised they even know what a convertible is....
  • Just bought my SLE Convertible last monday. absolutly love it. Yes, at first i hated the view from the rear window, but after driving it for a week and on the highways to and from work, i quicly forgot about the limited view and got accustomed to it very quickly. i havnt had the top down yet, but will soon when the temperature rises. other than that, nice quiet ride. im impressed how quiet it is with the top up considering i live right behing the naval air base in oceana with constant jets flying overhead. the quiet level is almost that of a normal hardtop coupe. SLE has awesome controls, and i love the fact the the displays are in black digital vice the normal colored green. when the sunlight hits the colored gauges, its almost impossible to read the displays. but with the black digital display, the sunshine has very little effect. i do have a question for you guys however. on the drivers side, right under the TRAC button, what is that small push button for? i pushed it and nothing happens. i know i should look in the drivers manual, but i havnt noticed it listed in that either. any clue on what this small button/switch is for?
  • tommyg12tommyg12 Posts: 158
    I'm really interested to hear how much difference in turbulence that the screen makes. Also, how will it effect rear-seat passengers? Does it have to be removed? thanks.
  • kreativkreativ Posts: 299
    "I ordered my 2005 SLE convertible a month ago. It is being built this week and will be a 2006 so says the dealer who looked at the paperwork."

    Did you essentially pay the '05 pricing (and rebate offer?) for an '06?
  • Dispencer1,
    In answer to your question about other convertibles, here is my July 2004 review from another auto site:
    This car looks and rides like a far more expensive luxury car. Comes fully loaded and has many safety features. Exceptionally quiet ride for a convertible. Everyone loves this car.
    I had to wait several weeks for my car to arrive - they are in short supply here in Florida. Shopped the entire state but still had to pay MSRP - no bargains to be found. Rear side visibility poor with the top up due to high back seat head rests and small rear windows. Manual boot cover is cumbersome.
    Overall Review:
    I test drove every other 4-seater convertible under $30,000 on the market including Sebring (noisy), Spyder (felt like it needed an alignment), Mustang (liked it, very solid, but new body style due out soon), PT Cruiser (nice but not nearly as good a value) and the Beetle (liked it a lot more than I expected to but a little sluggish) in addition to the Solara. I chose the SE trim to save a couple thousand dollars over the SLE. The 225 horsepower V6 has plenty of power, the interior is luxurious and the exterior is every bit as classy as a Lexus.

    After owning my 2004 for 8-1/2 months now, my complaints are this: There is a rattle where the top meets the car on the rear passenger side which the dealer claims is normal and less than 9 months after I bought my 2004 car they are coming out with the 2006?! Geez, at this rate it seems my car is aging in dog years!
  • I also own a 2004 Solara SLE convertible purchased June, 2004. My wife and I both love the car and we've had no trouble.

    Last week, I became upset when I found out that 2006 models were being shipped to the dealers. My car has suffered 2 years depreciation in 9 months.I e-mailed Toyota to ask why, but their response didn't answer my question. This whole thing makes no sense when you think that the brand new Avalon is a 2005.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I haven't paid anything but a $500 deposit thus far but we agreed on MSRP minus $1000 and I haven't been notified that I pay an additional amount although I understand that the 2006's are $60 more. When I ordered the car it was going to be a 2005 and the dealers used 2005 pricing. I'll let you know in a couple of weeks when the car arrives. I didn't get any rebate. As I understand it this came in when the 2006's were starting to be built last week.
  • dispencer1dispencer1 Posts: 489
    I'd agree with you if I had bought a late 2004. Can't understand why the 2006's are coming out this soon. It was always (in most brands) difficult to order a new car after about May or June because they had already started building the next year's models. If you did order one it would be the next year's car and you wouldn't get it until fall when the new cars came out. If you wanted a current year car you would have to search for your car on a dealer's lot.
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10
    I recieved the windscreen, but some of the parts used for mounting were missing. I contacted them and the parts are on order... so I have not installed it yet. It appears from the instructions that it will not be that difficult for someone who is mechanically inclined. The only scary part is the cutting, but they include a template. I'll post my experience as soon as I recieve the mounting hardware.
  • kreativkreativ Posts: 299
    It sounds like you ordered your car at the right time...with '05 pricing in mind but for an '06. Even if there are no changes in the car for the new model year, the dealer's asking price always seems to jump up at least for the first couple months. I hope your dealer doesn't try to get you to pay an additional amount!
  • douggreendouggreen Posts: 10

    It is common for some dealers to call almost any defect "normal." Don't accept any defect on a 9 month old car as "normal." Document it to the dealer immediately so that it is established that you reported it when the car was only 9 months old. Ask them to document their response to your claim in writing. Make sure you let your salesman know that you are unhappy, and that you plan to tell your friends how you are being dealt with. Let the dealer know that tbe next letter goes to Toyota headquarters, with a copy of their response attached, with a copy to your local BBB and the state AG. Follow through with your threat.

    This is just like the sales experience. The sales guy will be happy to charge you $1000 over sticker if you will pay it. Those who negotiate get their cars for less. If you go away, you are no longer a problem. It's your job to make
    let them know that it will be more trouble for them to ignore you than to fix your problem.

    My father had a similar experience with a Honda Accord. After dealing with the locals for months, he finally wrote to Honda and copied the local BBB and state attorney general. After initially claiming that his problem was "normal", they agreed to replaced his 10 month old car with a brand new one (a year newer model) for $1000.

    I can't say that your situation will turn out the same, but I wouldn't just let it go.
  • fresrackfresrack Posts: 1
    I just got mine yesterday March 17th from the factory and it is a 2005. Was on order for 3 weeks
  • rksolararksolara Posts: 3

    What brand of backup sensor did you purchase? Did you have to drill holes in the bumper to install sensors? Are you satisfied with the performance of the unit?
  • rossadrossad Posts: 6
    Does anyone know if the Pearl Blue color is available on the convertible? I am also
    looking at the Cosmic Blue with black top
    and Lunar Mist(Silver) with black top.
  • anniezmaanniezma Posts: 20
    I purchased my SLE on Feb 20th and it's going into 'production' on March 28th. What I'm reading here is that since Toyota is now producing 2006 models that I could expect that my SLE will be a 2006???? I don't mean to sound stupid...but, once they start producing the newer model, don't they STOP producing the previous year?? I just called the dealer and asked the saleman, he couldn't answer me, had to go talk to his manager....!
  • Do you mind me asking how you got them to go $1000 under MSRP. I could use the advise. What dealer are you dealing with?
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