Someone claiming insider knowledge at the Solara Guy forums has announced that the Solara, which some had assumed was dead, is going to see a third generation. According to this source, the car is going to be produced in Japan and come as a four-door similar to the Lexus IS and equipped with FWD and a 3.5-Liter V6 tied to a six-speed automatic. If this person knows what he or she claims to know, prototypes are out testing now and he's got a picture of it from a Toyota employee in
Toyota City, Japan Ann Arbor, Michigan. We guess Toyota thinks the name has a lot of equity? Another pic and the full details below the jump.
The Post From Solara Guy:
OK ... on rare occasions I have been wrong. It's usually for a very good reason though. When I originally posted up about the Death of the Solara, I thought I was absolutely correct.
As a supplier to Toyota, I would get APV information (Annual Planning Volume) that would show production forecasts by manufacturing plant. I would also be involved in future projects.
When I received the APV for 2008, the TMMK (Georgetown, KY) plant #2 showed that the volumes for Solara dropping to zero and the "Ace" (now named Venza) starting production in August 2008.
I immediately called the buyer at Toyota and asked if TMMK was going to discontinue the Solara. My second thought was that it would move to another plant. (Like they did to the first Gen Solara going from TMMC - Canada to TMMK) He said there were no plans to make the Solara here in North America.
What I didn't hear was " ... here in North America." Because the Solara was dropping in volume so much, it made more sense to move production to Japan and import the car. This frees up precious manufacturing lines to make higher volume cars like the boring Venza.
Yes, you heard me right.
This morning I got a note from the same buyer. (Sent from his personal email) No pictures of the Gen 3 have been released. No press releases, nothing. There's been so much hype about the death of the Solara, that Toyota decided to let the rumors cover up the project.
A prototype car had been sent to the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor for emissions testing and certification. One of his coworkers was up for a supplier launch meeting on the Venza when he caught sight of prototype Gen3 Solara at a local gas station. (The car had most of its camoflauge removed) So my friend got these camera pics. Sorry they are very bad but this guy did not want to be seen taking photos since he is a Toyota employee.
Good News and Bad News: (This is what information the buyer could get through his connections at TTC in Toyota City, Japan)
Good News first:
The Gen3 Solara is to be made in the a new Kanto Works plant in Sagamihara, Japan. (Near Tokyo)
Engine: 3.5L V-6 (Supposedly rated over 287Hp - not finalized yet) FWD of course. No 4cyl option anymore.
Transmission: A six speed manual is in the works but will launch 6 months after the 6spd AT with paddle shifters.
According to him, the options are very limited to keep inventory down. Only a SLE model will be available.
Other Features standard on all Solaras:
- Dual Exhaust
- LED Headlights in a round bulb like shape. (Like Infiniti's?)
- Push button start with remote start in the key FOB
- Heated front and rear seats (Driver's seat has cooling function)
- 6 disc changer with Navigation (Previously 4 disc)
- LED Gauge cluster and LED interior lighting.
- 18" wheels standard (3 variations w/ 1 by in a TRD version made by Enkei)
- TRD has a prototype vehicle at their Torrance, CA facility for development of "enthusiast" parts.
The Bad News : (I can hear the groaning already)The 2 door market is deemed to be dead to Toyota. The Gen3 Solara will be a 4 door that will compete with the Altima. (Except more upscale and more performance oriented.)
So no more convertibles.