Automotive

Subaru's first electric SUV claws out 220 miles of all-wheel adventure

Subaru's first electric SUV cl...
The Solterra stops to pose for the camera
The Solterra stops to pose for the camera ... hopefully not on top of any fish
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Subaru puts out its first all-electric vehicle
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Subaru puts out its first all-electric vehicle
Much of the styling is similar between the Toyota BZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but the Solterra has its own set of C-shaped headlights
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Much of the styling is similar between the Toyota BZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but the Solterra has its own set of C-shaped headlights
Subaru clearly expects Solterra owners to do some off-roading
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Subaru clearly expects Solterra owners to do some off-roading
Subaru will offer a panoramic glass roof on the Solterra
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Subaru will offer a panoramic glass roof on the Solterra
Subaru gives the Solterra an electric interpretation of its hexagonal grille
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Subaru gives the Solterra an electric interpretation of its hexagonal grille
The wheel arch cladding isn't the most flattering styling cue, but the rest of the design looks decent to us
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The wheel arch cladding isn't the most flattering styling cue, but the rest of the design looks decent to us
The multimedia system offers an optional 12.3-in touchscreen
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The multimedia system offers an optional 12.3-in touchscreen
Simplified shifting
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Simplified shifting
The X-Mode is designed for added traction in slick or off-road conditions
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The X-Mode is designed for added traction in slick or off-road conditions
Inside the front cab of the Subaru Solterra
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Inside the front cab of the Subaru Solterra
At the wheel
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At the wheel
The 60/40 folding rear seats
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The 60/40 folding rear seats
The wraparound taillights look a little like they were shot into place by Spiderman
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The wraparound taillights look a little like they were shot into place by Spiderman
The Solterra puts its dual-motor electric symmetrical all-wheel-drive to work
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The Solterra puts its dual-motor electric symmetrical all-wheel-drive to work
This looks more like someone's koi pond than an actual stream crossing, but the Subaru Solterra handles it either way
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This looks more like someone's koi pond than an actual stream crossing, but the Subaru Solterra handles it either way
The Solterra stops to pose for the camera
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The Solterra stops to pose for the camera ... hopefully not on top of any fish
The 215-hp Subaru Solterra will launch in the US next year
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The 215-hp Subaru Solterra will launch in the US next year
Almost back to dry land ... a harrowing journey through a 6-inch-deep puddle
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Almost back to dry land ... a harrowing journey through a 6-inch-deep puddle
Extreme koi-ponding?
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Extreme koi-ponding?
The Solterra offers Level 2 AC and DC fast-charging
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The Solterra offers Level 2 AC and DC fast-charging
The Solterra is just as capable on the road as it is off-roading through someone's estate and vineyard
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The Solterra is just as capable on the road as it is off-roading through someone's estate and vineyard
The Subaru Solterra will offer roughly 220 miles of range
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The Subaru Solterra will offer roughly 220 miles of range
The Solterra's 8.3 inches of ground clearance will help it navigate over rocks and other obstacles
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The Solterra's 8.3 inches of ground clearance will help it navigate over rocks and other obstacles
View gallery - 23 images

One by one, every automaker is adapting to the new battery-powered reality. Long holdout Toyota recently succumbed to the inevitable, and fellow Japanese badge Subaru becomes the latest to introduce its first-ever electric vehicle. The timing of those two vehicles isn't a coincidence, as the all-new 2023 Solterra shares a platform (and much of its look) with Toyota's BZ4X. Still, the Solterra feels like an electric Subaru through and through, relying on an electrified version of the company's famed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for over 200 miles of all-terrain, all-weather adventure-making capability.

Much like they did with the GR86/BRZ, Subaru and Toyota have teamed up for their first electric vehicle, hitting the red-hot electric crossover market with a pair of fraternal twins. The resemblance between the BZ4X and Solterra is immediately clear thanks to the hideous cladded wheel arches. The character lines, creases and rear-end designs are also quite similar, but the Solterra distinguishes itself with a unique face that centers a solid interpretation of Subaru's hexagonal grille between a pair of C-shaped LED headlamps.

The Solterra is just as capable on the road as it is off-roading through someone's estate and vineyard
The Solterra is just as capable on the road as it is off-roading through someone's estate and vineyard

Differentiation abounds under the skin, where Subaru relies on the flexibility of electric motor placement to support a standard symmetrical all-wheel drive system in place of the split front- and all-wheel options Toyota offers. The Solterra's front and rear motors team for 215 hp and route the 248 lb-ft (336 Nm) of on-demand torque out to the four wheels. Off-road-ready X-Mode improves performance in slick, low-traction conditions.

Subaru doesn't specify a battery size, identifying it merely as a "high-capacity lithium-ion" pack, but it estimates range at 220 miles (354 km), a bit less than the US-spec front-wheel-drive BZ4X that comes tagged with a 250-mile (402-km) estimate. Charging details remain as vague as battery capacity, but Subaru says that a DC fast-charger will get the Solterra pack up to 80 percent in less than an hour.

Subaru clearly expects Solterra owners to do some off-roading
Subaru clearly expects Solterra owners to do some off-roading

Inside, below the available panoramic glass roof, the Solterra has up to 126 cu ft (3.6 cu m) of passenger and cargo space, giving its five occupants plenty of legroom with help from the nearly flat floor. The 60/40 folding rear seats and dual-position load floor lend flexibility for cargo carry, and the wide tailgate with low lift-over height makes for easier loading and unloading. And of course, raised roof rails are available as a cargo capacity-boosting option.

The Solterra comes loaded with standard and available driver-assistance tech, including EyeSight assist, blind spot monitor with lane change assist, 360-degree-view camera system, and rear cross-traffic alert. The infotainment system includes an available 12.3-in touchscreen display, as well as standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Smartphone connectivity brings remote lock/unlock and climate control features, while an available wireless console charger keeps the phone battery fired up.

At the wheel
At the wheel

Subaru debuted the American-market Solterra at the LA Auto Show, which kicked off this week, after premiering the Japanese version last week. The new e-crossover will go on sale in the US in mid 2022, and Subaru will release pricing info closer to launch.

Toyota is also hosting the American premiere of the BZ4X at the LA show, which opens to the public on Friday and runs through November 28.

Source: Subaru

View gallery - 23 images
9 comments
9 comments
anthony88
I hope they put charging stations in the woods.
Chase
I would really like to know the weight and battery capacity. If the range is crap due to a much smaller battery, I would applaud the weight savings and better efficiency. If it's still 4,000-4,500 lbs and gets that kind of range, then I've got nothing but disappointment in Toyoberu. As for design, yeah the wheel arches are absolutely hideous, and it annoys me to no end that most manufacturers are still installing the stupid infotainment screens in landscape mode instead of portrait mode.
Daishi
Considering Elon is the richest person in the world by a decent margin and Rivian is worth more than Ford and GM with less than 100 vehicles sold even if consumers have not yet really spoken it's clear that investors have. There is a lot of smart people betting literal billions that even startups are better qualified to bring in EV adoption than traditional auto companies and that's pretty interesting. Even if traditional brands get the product right they will get the marketing wrong by creating products that blend into their existing product line or using names like "bZ4X" and "Ford Mustang Mach-E GT".
michael_dowling
anthony88: Read an article that said the Cybertruck would come with an optional large solar "sail" that can be folded compactly and kept hidden away until needed. It would give a slow charge if you were on a camping trip,and ran low on juice.
Michael son of Lester
Come talk to me when it doesn't take half an hour or more to recharge, and the range matches my Forester at 450 plus miles.
DavidB
Too big, too tall, too many doors, too…everything (well, except much range).

Someone PLEASE make a small, sporty two-door with a range of 250–300 miles that doesn’t cost as much as a nice starter home.

How about Toyota and Subaru electrify their GR86 and BRZ models? Those are great-looking cars with lackluster acceleration. Imagine them with electric motors, though!
madsci
agree with DavidB. And add to the list an electric "Mazdaspeed" version of the 3 or MX-5. You get the idea.
HoppyHopkins
Looks nice but being that low to the ground it would not be practical for off road driving
ReservoirPup
@anthony88 – just a PV array with batteries will do the trick. No refueling trucks/personnel are needed. It’d be a better business than Starlink, if the stations a placed right.