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Toyota Solara Convertible - 2004 and Newer



  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    Very exciting to hear yours is arriving so quickly. Be sure to keep us posted as you get the car and your initial thoughts. Really anxious to see one of these in a dealership.

    Anybody know how the JBL system has been received? From what I've read, most everything on the '04 Solara seems well received and reviewed - good quality vehicle. The only hang-up I have is with the manual tonneau cover. But that is minor.
  • andy71andy71 Member Posts: 96
    I think Toyota should make a convertible Lexus version of the Solara and name it SC330. Is there any possibility it would happen? If they can keep the price under 40G's I am there.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    They do, it is called a Solara convertible and it is $10g cheaper...what could they possibly add to the Solara to justify the price increase? If you need the brand...well that is a different discussion...
  • andy71andy71 Member Posts: 96
    How about the superb Mark Levinson sound system found across the Lexus line? The JBL sound system available in the Camry can't hold a candle against the ML. How about variable adaptive suspension system? I know these two features are not available in any Toyota vehicles.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    Keep dreaming. Theres a reason why those features are found on Lexus and not Toyota models.

  • howiebxhowiebx Member Posts: 20
    Anyone know how much it costs?
    Looks like "hapuna" snagged one?
    Would you mind sharing the cost / feature info?
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    yeah, a superb balanced sound system for a car with no roof...
    Pricing is available @kbb. It does not look complete though (there is no listing for nav.) Dealers just got pricing. I spoke with mine on Friday, ours has a list of $32145.00. From what I understand, it has every option available. He is still saying we will be driving it by the end of the month...
  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    I do not know the exact price of my vehicle - I am assuming it will cost me between $32k and $34k (this includes the NAV). I have not communicated with my dealer in a while, I am thinking it might be in before Easter.

    As for the Lexus/Toyota comparison, obviously, they have to differentiate between the two lines - we shouldn't expect a Toyota to have all the details of a Lexus - Lexus owners pay a premium for those extras. I think the redesigned Solara Convertible is extremely well equipped and appointed - it's on the higher end of the Toyota family.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    just like the Avalon, Sienna XLE, Camry XLE V6, and Solara SLE V6.
  • droptopsolaradroptopsolara Member Posts: 21
    Looking for a conv SLE...but many dealers in my area seem to be in the dark regarding prices and availability....except for one, who is one of the largest dealers on the east coast. That dealer was looking to charge a $2K premium.

    Anyone else have any luck with ordering an SLE with out a premium?
  • jeffceejeffcee Member Posts: 12
    Well I picked the car up on Saturday and it looks as good as or better than the pictures! From the dealership I took it on a 300 mile road trip. While there was a little more wind noise than my son's 1999 Solara Coupe it was no more than the wind noise on my 2002 Maxima. The ride was very solid. The fit and finish needs to be seen to be believed. The interior of the convertible top could fool one into believing they are in a coupe. Speaking of the top there is one button that lowers all the windows plus the top in about 10 seconds. Only real complaint I have is with the power accessories outlet. One is located inside the armrest and the other behind one of the flip up doors on the dash. Overall I think Toyota has hit a home run. I came very close to purchasing a Sebring Limited last September because of the nice rebates but decided to wait and see what the Solara convertible would be like. I am very glad I did!!

    As for what I got, pricing etc. I got the the SLE with all options except navigation. These options included vehicle stability control and the accessories such as mats etc. The toyota window sticker was $30,824 and yes I did get a nice discount. The discount was legit as I had no trade in to confuse the issue. I bought the car at Frank Gentile Toyota in Racine, WI. I never set foot in the dealership before Saturday. I handled the entire transaction with about 10 minutes of phone conversation. I dealt with the internet sales manager named Sam. When I arrived on Saturday the car was ready as promised and I completed what was a very pleasant buying experience. I found myself driving the hour to WI primarily because the Chicago dealers had a take it or leave it attitude regarding price and seemed quite uninformed on when the cars would arrive and at what price. Hope this info helps!
  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    Congrats on the purchase. Sounds like it was a great experience. Now I am very anxious to see the car. Two questions:

    1. How is the JBL Stereo?
    2. What is the deal with the tonneau cover (i.e. the cover that is shown when the top is down)?

    Thanks and enjoy the driving ....
  • kenitzerkenitzer Member Posts: 19
    What color combination did you get? Was yours the only car delivered or did the dealership receive others? I am not market until Aug a the earliest, but am quite excited.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    I wonder what color combination is the Solara.
  • jeffceejeffcee Member Posts: 12
    The color combo I got is red with the slate(dark grey) interior and the black top. The JBL system is pretty decent especially at lower volumes. Better than the Bose car system. I haven't tried to install the tonneau cover but it looks easy and there is an audio CD the covers taking it off and on. I am not sure when the dealership I bought from will receive their next ones.
  • droptopsolaradroptopsolara Member Posts: 21
    Sounds great, Jeffcee - good luck with the new ride!
    I spoke with another dealer today - they wanted a 4k premium for an SLE they have coming in next week.I'll keep looking for a reasonable priced 04

    In the meantime I spotted an '03 SLE with low miles for 27500. I'm tempted to go with the 2003, due to the premium pricing.

    Can anyone comment if the 04 is worth 6K to 7K more?
  • jeffceejeffcee Member Posts: 12
    While I cannot imagine any dealer actually getting a $4k premium over sticker this is what I suggest you do. Check with internet sales managers in more northern states work a deal below sticker and use the savings to have the car shipped to you. When my brother who lives in Indianapolis could not find a good deal locally on an Acura RL he ending up buying from a dealer in Philly. He paid $500 to ship the car right to his front door and still saved $1000 over buying in Indy. You really risk nothing as these are brand new cars and the local dealer must service them. Also check ebay and you will see that the few dealers that have listed '04 convertibles with opening bids under sticker had the aution end with only 1-2 bids neither of which came even close to the Toyota sticker price or the dealers reserve price. What this tells me is that dealers trying to get OVER list are dreaming and the marketplace will bear this out.
  • sazaman1sazaman1 Member Posts: 22
    Mind telling us how much discount you got?
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    Don't be crazy with the '03. We are from the same state, and my car is due in next week. alright, it is actually my wifes..anyway, if you are serious, i can hook you up with my dealer, where you will be treated properly.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Wonder when Toyota will update the Solara minisite.
  • droptopsolaradroptopsolara Member Posts: 21
    If you can, please let me know the dealer or contact.
    There's no way I would pay over sticker I'm just shocked some dealers are being that bold.

    I'm outside of Hartford in Huskies Country.

    The '03 I was looking at is certified and I got a decent financing deal, but sounds like the '04 has many improvements.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    update your profile so i can shoot you an email with the contact information...i live in southern connectcut,my dealer is actuallly not too far from you in the northwest hills....
  • nc_tomnc_tom Member Posts: 9
    I have had the same experience with price in Raleigh, NC. The dealers I called through North and South Carolina, save one, all refused to take anything nut full sticker for the Solara '04 SLE conv. None asked over. The one took $500 off of sticker. One person told me that there was direction that no dealers in the SouthEast Toyota Distributor region were supposed to negotiate at all. I'm going to call to VA dealers this evening since they are in the mid-Atlantic distributor region.

    tyresmoker, I would love a contact. I created my profile with my email visible for now. I saw the one in Wisc, too, but it would be better if I could drive. Anyone else, feel free to email as well.

    Also, anyone know the invoice for the base SLE? I had guessed 26,505 by taking the same percentage difference from MSRP as is on the coupe. However, I was shown a sheet at the local dealer that listed pricing, and showed the invoice as 25,621. Then on the phone today, someone else told me 27,700.
  • droptopsolaradroptopsolara Member Posts: 21
    Tyresmoker- I updated the profile - thanks very much
  • lesbaer45lesbaer45 Member Posts: 9
    I'm in Raleigh area also. Did you try Sanford dealer? Same as one out on US70 but I was hoping being in smaller area they might not be as bad.

    We are hosed with SE distributor, they are always larding up the sticker with ToyoGuard etc.

    I'm looking for either white or red with tan interior. Not willing to get reamed on hype, will wait till next year if I have to. Let me know how you make out. Good luck.
  • opencarsopencars Member Posts: 7
    Talked to a dealer today on a convertible due in the next two weeks. Mandatory add ons of about $1000. + AMV of $3000. Here we go again! New Jersey Dealer.This was really disappointing.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    Feel free to be specific with respect to which dealership you're speaking of. Its perfectly fine to name a dealership. You cannot name a salesperson, however.

    Might I guess that you found that BS at a DiFeo or Autoland dealership in NJ? In which part of NJ do you live? In central, I'd recommend Lawerenceville, Dayton, or Brunswick Toyota.

  • opencarsopencars Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for the info. Although I am located in south Jersey, it is about half the distance between Lawerenceville and Shore Toyota in Mays Landing.
  • mrosenthal123mrosenthal123 Member Posts: 2
    Thought I might put this out there for anyone interested...

    2004 Toyota Solara
      Body: SLE V6 Conv Color: Absolutely Red Interior: Ivory Leather Stock #: 025050
      Delivered Internet Price: $32,316 Factory Invoice: $29,510
    Delivered Value Price: $32,655 MSRP: $32,316

    Unfortunately, I have a few more months to go on my current lease, but am considering buying a convertible solara when the time comes. Hope this helps someone. I got the website off the "Toyota Sienna-prices paid" chat board from someone who had a great experience with the dealer. The website is fitzmall.com.

    Good luck!
  • droptopsolaradroptopsolara Member Posts: 21
    Thanks tyresmoker
    info has been updated
  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    Hello All:

    I still have not received mine yet, but I did go out and drive a Black/Stone SLE yesterday while the weather was good here in Chicago. Similar to JeffCee's opinion, the car is even better in person. Fun car to drive, plenty of great features, naturally high-quality build - the Solara should do great things for Toyota in this market niche.

    Can't wait until I get mine in a few weeks - supposed to be finished in production tomorrow.
  • nc_tomnc_tom Member Posts: 9
    Wanted to ask about the wind deflector option. Can someone explain this to me, being new to convertibles? One sales person said it had automatic controls, though I thought it was something that could be manually removed and stored in the trunk.

    I am considering leaving this off since I will paying more than I planned due to the lack of negotiations at dealers. Also, I was thinking of getting an SE and getting after market leather. Anyone have experience with this? Actually, the sales guy at one of the dealers mentioned some of the after market leather is better than factory installed. Not sure if the SEs are available yet, or just SLEs.

    Thanks for the help. Also, I saw that Toyota finally has the Solara convertible on their web site. Though, there are some oddities. The MSRP is $500 higher than was was in the press release and what the dealer told me last week. Did the price go up $500? The SE was also listed as having 17" wheels, though I thought it had 16" standard. The mystery continues.
  • icangelat03icangelat03 Member Posts: 45
    It sounds like you and I are in opposite situations. I really didn't want the leather seats in mine (I would have liked to get the SE), but I simply can't wait any longer to get my car. I would much rather have the cloth seats (I will be covering mine) and the silver trim.
  • opencarsopencars Member Posts: 7
    Again, thanks for the information on Lawerenceville. Will get the first one delivered at the dealership. In transit and will be in any day. Black/Ivory with all options including Navigation, Floor Mats and First Aid Kit. $32,178.

    Many thanks.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    finally, ours is due in later in the week, couldn't wait, called dealers near my office. Went at lunchtime to look at a black one (same as we are getting, this one did not have nav). Car is amazing in person. Well built car. Seems like a true value for $30-$32k.
    This dealer wanted $4k over.
    I learned that the black/ivory cars come with a tan top. Not sure about that color combo.
    If anyone is considering, get on a list. These things will not be lot lizards.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    I assume you are happy with the experience at Lawerenceville. And.... thats what these boards are for! I appreciate it, but no need to thank me. You're the one spending your hard earned money on a new vehicle, and you should be treated accordingly. Toyota dealers are largely unchecked, and run the gamut from OUTSTANDING sales service, all the way down to the treatment youd expect from that stereotypical plaid adorned greasy hair used car lot guy.

    Black sounds great on this convertible. You will not be disappointed.

  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    Went out last night and test drove another one - silver with stone interior and a black top. SLE V6 with everything except the NAV. Beautiful night here in Chicago, so I was able to drive with the top up and down. Very impressed with the tight fit and quiet ride while the top is up. The tonneau cover does not seem too complicated to put on. Was also able to test out the manual setting of the transmission - really cool - adds a bit of extra sportiness to the car. The JBL radio definitely has powerful bass - but the sound is impressive.

    I've examined this car up and down and am looking forward to getting mine in a few weeks. I talked with the dealer yesterday - mine should be in during the first two weeks of April.

    Let me know if you have any questions.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 50,547
    How roomy is the back seat, and how easy is the access? Would it be suitable for 2 kids (currently 12 and 8) on a regular basis, as they got up into the teenage years?

    Some of the smaller converts (ie the BMW 3 series) are a bit cramped, but the Sebring has plenty of room. Where would you slot the Toyota compared to these 2?

    Also, does it have much trunk room?

    Really just trying to figure out if this is usable as an only car (there is a minivan in the family for travel duties), or is really a 2 seater with occasional use rear jump seats.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD, 2023 Maverick hybrid Lariat luxury package.

  • icangelat03icangelat03 Member Posts: 45
    Being from Chicago also, I was experiencing the wonderful weather, and wishing for my convertible already. Just wondering what dealership you went to (test drive and purchase). I'm still waiting for mine to be delivered. Although with the weather forcast for this week, I'm not in a huge rush.
  • theweissmantheweissman Member Posts: 28
    I visited two Toyota dealerships in NJ today. Both had silver with stone interior '04 convertibles in the showroom. The first dealer was ambiguous about price, even though he seemed anxious to put me in a car today. (But did not offer me a gtest drive.) This was East Coast Toyota in Wood Ridge.

    The second dealer, Crystal Auto Mall in Green Brook, was much more businesslike, and took the 'vert right out of the showroom for me to drive.

    Compared to my current '01 silver Sebring convertible, the '04 Solara is a little bigger car, has MUCH more trunk space, better acceleration, bassier (but not really better) sound; the top opens and closes maybe just a touch faster.

    With the top up, there is poor visibility over your right shoulder to the blind spot; the rear view is obscured by the rear seat head rests (which I am assured are removable, but I don't like the idea of loose parts; in the Volvo, these same headrests flip down using a button on the dashboard). With the top down, the "shoulder height" of the rim behind the back seats is higher than I'm used to. I found myself having to sit erect to look over it.

    It's a stylish car; I like it, and the absence of body side moldings gives the Solara very clean lines, but makes it vulnerable to door dings.

    When I bought my Sebring three years ago, I thought it was the best value proposition in a convertible at the time. Now, having watched it depreciate horribly (and with the meager trade-in $$ they offered), so much for that value proposition.

    This year, I think the best value proposition in a convertible may just lie with the Solara.

    My .02.

  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    I have some questions for you. With the top down, how solid did the car feel? Was there any noticeable steering wheel or dashboard shaking, especially when traversing bumps? How was the handling, firm and well planted yet compliant or a touch to soft and wallowy? How about the brakes, did it have a nice firm brake pedal feel and strong stopping power?

    Now for some questions about the features. Is their a latch that you must unlatch before dropping the top or is it completely a one touch operation? Do you have to have the tranny in park or the emergency brake up to operate the top? Do the windows have an auto up feature at all? Is the center console the silver panel like in the SE or do they substitute the wood? If it is silver, do you find it a bit overdone or you prefer it? How is the back seat room and comfort? Does the seat sit on the floor or is it elevated and how is the legroom? What about headroom in back with the top up and does it feel claustropobic at all (the Eclipse convertible is horrid in these areas)? Are the headrests in fact removeable?

    Overall, I find the Solara an interesting car and I might consider one. It really is in a class by itself. BMW, Audi, Volvo, and Saab 4 seat convertibles are too expensive. The Sebring has questionable quality. The Eclipse is too small in back and doesn't have a luxurious interior. The Beetle is cute, but not elegant and the trunk is small. The closest competitor besides the Sebring is the PTCruiser convertible, but it's retro styling doesn't look elegant like a convertible should. My only problem with the Solara is the exterior styling. I'm not too sure about the droopy rear end styling but I will reserve final judgement until I see one in person. The interior is drop dead gorgeous, enough so I might be able to overlook the somewhat ackward styling on the outside.
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    closest competition is the PT Cruiser?? Huh? Our shopping list included three cars.. the A4 Cab, the three and a quarter conv. and the Solara. $39.6k for a four cylinder cvt and questionable quality ruled the Audi out. BMW, really nice, too expensive and too small. Besides, the changeover begins this fall.
    The Saab was such a piece of crap I didn't even bring the misses to look at it.
    I know I have been blowing my horn about this car, but it is really that good.
    Someone had mentioned why Lexus does not make a version...after seeing the car, I wonder whay they just didn't give it to Lexus.
    There are soooo many brand consious Americans out there that will choose the above mentioned cars because they simply will not drive a Toyota...Their loss!!
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    I said that about the PT due to interior roominess, performance, and price. However, notice I did say there was a but and I did say the Solara is really in its own class.
  • mfullmermfullmer Member Posts: 773
    "Three and a quarter conv." ????

    What is that about? Let's see 25 keystrokes to say what could have been said in 7. (325 cab)

    What is that about?
  • tyresmokertyresmoker Member Posts: 266
    Is that better? it is actually refered to as a "convertible", the Audi is refered to as a cab.
  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    I will get back to you tonight with answers to your questions. They are great questions and I think solid answers will benefit future readers
    - just can't do them justice during the day at work.

    Look for info tonight.
  • cotmccotmc Member Posts: 1,081
    I'm no expert, but one feature the Audi, Saab, Volvo, and the "three and a quarter" convertibles all seem to have in common is some sort of head protection for all passengers, in case of a rollover. Does the new Solara offer anything of this nature?

    I know rollovers are very uncommon with convertibles, but I would still be willing to pay extra $$ for that additional "safety net".
  • hapunahapuna Member Posts: 16
    With the top down, the redesigned Solara is very solid - that was obviously one of the biggest complaints of the older model. The handling is very reactive - firm and well-planted. Brakes are also very solid - no issues.

    I am trading in an SLK230 for this car, so the top of the Solara was an initial concern for me. But after inspecting two different models, I am very oomfortable. You do have to unlatch the top before lowering the top. There is a separate button to lower all the windows. There is no real requirement for the position of the car to operate the top. The SLE does have silver accents around the A/C and Radio - it is attractive and not too overpowering. I am not sure about the rear headrests - I did not ask if they can be removed. The backseat has plenty of legroom and headroom, no claustrophobic feeling when the top is up - actually very roomy. And I am 6'5", so that was a concern. The rear seat is not stadium style.

    I think the exterior styling is very personal - but the car looks great in person and depends heavily on color. I think this car is a great option in comparison to the Volvo, Audi, BMW - the extra 10-12k you would be paying for those convertibles is purely for the brand. I will miss the convertible hard-top of the SLK, but I wanted something bigger with all the acoutriments. The Solara accomplishes this objective - you are getting a lot of car for a fair price.

    Hope this helps.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    Your comments are very helpful and interesting. So, coming from the SLK, you didn't notice any structural weakness? If that's the case, that's very impressive! A few more questions for clarification purposes. So there is 1 switch that lowers the top and a separate one that lowers all the windows at one time or does operating the top switch automatically lower all the windows? Does the switch that lowers all the windows also raise them all at once? Are you able to lower the back windows by themselves? Does the top have one central latch or a latch for each side? Lastly, you can lower the top while sitting at a stoplight with the tranny in drive or even while moving a few mph? If so, I definitely like that. I currently own a 1990 Mazda RX7 convertible which has a power top that only operates with the emergency brake on, which is a little inconvenient.

    I really appreciate the helpful insights you have provided so far. I'm beginning to think the Solara may be a good choice to replace my 2 door coupe (convincing the other half that 2 convertibles isn't overkill is another story). It has the right combination of luxury, performance, room, and price.
  • cotmccotmc Member Posts: 1,081
    I also appreciated your info. Thanks.

    Since nobody answered my question, I'll address it directly to you:

    You stated: "Volvo, Audi, BMW - the extra 10-12k you would be paying for those convertibles is purely for the brand."

    Isn't it true you are also getting additional safety features with those brands? (i.e., head protection in case of a rollover?) Or does the new Solara offer similar protection? If not, then I have a difficult time accepting that safety isn't worth a certain price. I'd pay for additional safety features before all the "comfort" amenities any day.
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