First Look: 2023 Subaru Solterra

220 miles is the range of a new EV designed for rugged travelers.


In addition to forests, the 2023 Subaru Solterra electric crossover is suitable for rocky ridges, sandy deserts, potholed fire routes, and pretty much anyplace else where there isn’t pavement.


It is the Toyota bZ4X clone. Actually, the two businesses worked together to design the compact crossovers.


But Subaru is sticking to its usual consumer profile: young outdoor adventurers, while Toyota is targeting the urban commuter population with its mass-market electric vehicle.


The Toyota bZ4X and the Solterra have similar sheet metal, interior styling, electric drivetrain, and electric all-wheel-drive system, but the Solterra is a distinct car.


Subaru was the partner in charge of the design and engineering of the chassis, suspension, and AWD. They also tuned the suspension of the Solterra to be stiffer and more off-road capable.


Toyota vs. Subaru: Differences in Design


Nearly every exterior and interior detail of the two cars is the same, yet we believe the Solterra has a little nicer appearance. The color of the Solterra that we observed was less reflecting than the glossier Toyota hues. The character lines and wrinkles of the Solterra appeared softer, however this could just be an optical effect.


The two look nearly the same from the side and back. The Subaru has unique LED headlamp design up front. Rather than using the thin, linear lights found on the Toyota, it uses a narrow “C” form on each corner. There are also conventional fog lights on the Solterra.


The roofline extends backward with a moderate incline, and the long wheelbase forces the wheels out to the corners for a broad, dynamic stance. There are two short extensions that protrude from the upper edge of the rear liftgate in place of a full-width wind spoiler. It appears as though the middle 75% of a conventional liftgate spoiler has been removed.


The same thick black cladding that covers the Subaru Crosstrek is used to the wheel wells. However, the front cladding of the bZ4X and Solterra encircles the headlights. It forms pretty attractive faux air intakes as it descends the front fascia on either side.


Subaru also places its emblem in the middle of an area encircled by black trim on the nose of the Solterra to draw attention to it. In contrast, the Toyota’s snout is really simple.


Large infotainment touchscreen and a sizable driver information screen, located high in the dash in front of the steering wheel, are integrated within the long, fabric-covered dash. The central console is nearly level.


Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control with full stop-and-go capability, rear cross-traffic alert, pre-collision warning, and crash mitigation with automated emergency braking and throttle control are all included in Subaru’s excellent standard EyeSight advanced safety and driver-assistance system. Subaru’s first model featuring a 360-degree surround-view camera system is the Solterra, which comes in quite handy for off-roading and parking.


Wireless charging and connectivity with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard features of the infotainment system.


Professional Off-Roader


All-wheel drive is standard on the Solterra, with one motor driving the front wheels and a separate rear motor spinning the back wheels. Electronic signals determine the optimal torque distribution for every motor.


The dual motor configuration, which produces 215 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, will be the same in all versions. The Solterra has enough power to push over mud holes, over logs, and up steep hills on slick gravel trails, but it won’t win any drag races.


There aren’t many EVs that can handle rough terrain well. The Toyota bZ4X, which shares the same engine as the Solterra, and the AWD Volkswagen ID.4 with 201 horsepower are potential rivals to the Solterra.


The StarDrive power control system and the X-Mode automated off-road traction controller from Subaru, which help maintain steady, smooth speeds when slogging through the backcountry, are standard equipment on all Solterras.


While Subaru offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance on the Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback, the Solterra only offers 8.3 inches, which is less. However, the cars in question are not towing a bulky battery pack between their axles and beneath their floorboards.


When parked on level, stable ground, Subaru claims that the Solterra’s roof rack can support up to 600 pounds. That will hold up a rooftop tent and two sleeping people.


Range of 220 Miles


Subaru claims that the 71.4 kilowatt-hour “long-range” lithium-ion battery pack used in the 2023 Solterra will allow for a maximum driving distance of 220 miles. Although it’s a large range for a route, it could be constrained if you also have to drive from your house to the trailhead.


The Solterra has the ability to fast-charge DC and can draw up to 130 kW of energy per hour from its two sizes of battery packs. It recharges quickly enough to replace roughly 80% of the energy in a 2023 Solterra battery pack in 45 minutes.


(DC fast-charging is normally limited to an 80% replenishment because it heats up batteries and, for safety concerns, slows down significantly after a certain point. The final 20% will cause the charging time to more than quadruple.)


Most DC fast chargers are situated close to shopping centers and rest areas. Thus, a Solterra should be able to cover about 350 miles in a day with its passengers taking a 60-minute bathroom and lunch break. If a dinner break is factored into the itinerary, the vehicle should go an additional 150 miles.


The trim-dependent range of the all-wheel-drive VW ID.4 is 240 to 249 miles, whereas the Solterra’s is somewhat less. It matches that of the Toyota bZ4X.


The majority of AWD Mach-Es with the 75.7-kWh standard range battery deliver just 210 miles (10 miles less than the Solterra) and have only 5.7 inches of ground clearance, which may turn off consumers who think the Ford Mustang Mach-E is a rival. Approximately 270 miles, or 23% longer range, may be obtained from a battery pack with 33% more capacity in an AWD Mach-E equipped with the 98.8-kWh long-range battery.


Subaru estimates that the two motors in the Solterra—one in the front and one at the back—combine to produce 215 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. That surpasses the 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of the single motor of the rear-wheel drive ID.4. However, it falls short of the base 317 lb-ft and 266 horsepower Mustang Mach-E engine.

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