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