October update: For months, the Subaru Solterra and its Toyota sibling the bZ4X were under a recall and stop-sale. The Solterra recall was due to the risk of the wheels literally falling off. Finally, a fix is in, and the Solterra is about to go on sale. But is it worth the lofty price?
Subaru is known for two things: standard all-wheel drive, and diehard fans who will never drive anything else. It was big news when Subaru announced the first EV to join the lineup. As the owner of a Forester myself, I had high expectations.
Now that the Solterra is here, I’m disappointed. There are a few serious deal-breakers. The newly-released EPA range figures will make road trips a hassle, and slow charging speeds are not going to help. Solterra Pricing? It’s not cheap. Here’s what we know about the 2023 Subaru Solterra.
Subaru Solterra Pricing and Range
In April, Subaru Solterra prices were announced. Hopefully there aren’t any dealer markups, because Solterra prices are already pretty high for the slow charging and mediocre range. But at least you get AWD with solid ground clearance.
|Base MSRP||Destination||MSRP + Destination|
|Subaru Solterra Premium||$44,995||+$1,225||$46,220|
|Subaru Solterra Limited||$48,495||+$1,225||$49,720|
|Subaru Solterra Touring||$51,995||+$1,225||$53,220|
Official EPA range for the Solterra is 228 miles in the Premium trim (with 18″ wheels), and 222 miles with the Limited and Touring trims. Considering the Solterra has a 72.8 kilowatt-hour battery, that’s not very good efficiency.
The Solterra’s Design
A length of 184.6”, width of 73.2” and height of 64.9” makes it similar in size to the Forester, but the exterior design language is hardly similar.
The front fascia is not unlike a more angular version of the Mustang Mach-E, with a faux grill outline and aggressive LED headlights. Black plastic cladding above the front wheel wells won’t bother most buyers, but it might be too much plastic for some. The rear of the Solterra features c-shaped taillights that just might be Toyota-inspired. Overall, the Solterra is definitely a model you’ll want to see in person before deciding if it fits your style.
Electric All-Wheel Drive
The Subaru Solterra’s off-roading capabilities are bolstered by 8.3” of ground clearance and the new e-SUBARU symmetrical all-wheel drive system. Subaru says that the new AWD system channels smooth linear output from Subaru StarDrive Technology, which enhances traction in all kinds of weather and terrain.
The front and rear electric motors produce a combined output of 215 horsepower, which is a tad more than the gas-powered Forester and Outback. StarDrive delivers on-demand torque (248 lb-feet) and multiple regenerative braking modes to replenish the battery without compromising ride comfort.
All electric AWD systems have the added benefit of quicker reaction times versus combustion counterparts, as electricity simply moves faster with fewer parts. These days, fewer parts could be key to overcoming inventory shortages. If you hit a patch of black ice, the e-SUBARU AWD system will always respond quicker than the gas-powered equivalent. As with internal combustion models, Subaru continues to offer X-MODE to improve performance in low-friction conditions.
The Subaru Solterra’s Interior
The Solterra’s interior design features may not appeal to those looking for a more minimalist atmosphere. The interior features a large 12.3” center display with a mix of haptic and physical controls, complimented by a smaller display that serves as the gauge cluster above a somewhat small steering wheel.
This digital gauge cluster is placed quite far from the driver’s seating position, but we won’t know how noticeable that is until taking it for a drive. The Solterra might be a welcome sight to those distressed by the absence of physical controls in some newer models. But if you’re anti-piano black, you won’t be too happy with its abundant use throughout the cabin. Interior dimensions are on par with the Forester, with 126 cubic feet of total passenger + cargo volume, 96 cubic feet of passenger space and 30 cubic feet of cargo area.
The Solterra’s Safety Features
The Solterra comes standard with a long list of driver assist technologies:
- Safety Exit Alert (New)
- 360-Degree Surround-View Camera (New)
- LED headlights with high beam assist
- Automatic pre-collision braking
- Automatic pre-collision throttle management
- Lane departure warning
- Blind Spot Monitor with Lane Change Assist
- Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
Range and Charging Disappoint
The EPA rated the Subaru Solterra’s range at 222 miles for the slightly heavier Limited trim, and 228 miles for other trim options. For a 2023 model, that figure is below nearly all of the competition in the electric crossover segment, even among those with AWD. All trims come with a 71.4 kWh battery, which is quite big for such a mediocre range estimate.
Here’s how the Subaru Solterra’s all-wheel drive competitors compare:
- Volkswagen ID.4: 240 – 249 miles
- Hyundai IONIQ 5: 256 miles
- Kia EV6: 274 miles
- Ford Mustang Mach-E: 211 – 270 miles
- Tesla Model Y: 303 – 330 miles
The Solterra’s charging speed is limited to 100 kW at a DC fast charger. That’s even more disappointing than the EPA range figures! Some new EVs, such as the all-wheel drive Hyundai IONIQ 5, make up for mediocre range figures with impressive charging.
Subaru claims that the Solterra can charge from 10% to 80% in 56 minutes. Do you want to wait around for an hour to gain 180 miles of range? I have a small child, so I sure wouldn’t.
Before you go off dismissing EVs as slow-charging appliances on wheels, take a look at how the Subaru Solterra’s competitors fare:
- Hyundai IONIQ 5: 10 to 80% charge (179 miles) in 18 minutes at 230 kW speeds
- Kia EV6: 10 to 80% charge (192 miles) in 18 minutes at 230 kW speeds
- Tesla Model Y: 10 to 80% charge (231 miles) in 22 minutes at 250 kW speeds
- Volkswagen ID.4: 10 to 80% charge (174 miles) in 29 minutes at 135 kW speeds
- Ford Mustang Mach-E: 10 to 80% charge (189 miles) in 38 to 45 minutes at 150 kW speeds
Surveys show that between 80% and 90% of EV charging is done at home. However, Solterra drivers will have to factor in hours of charging time when heading out on a long road trip.