All-New, All-Electric Compact SUV
Subaru today introduced to North America the all-new, all-electric 2023 Solterra EV compact SUV. This major step for Subaru gains them membership in the 21st Century progressive automotive propulsion club. What is the Solterra and where does it fit in the Subaru SUV line-up?
Two Motors, AWD Standard
The 2023 Subaru Solterra has two electric motors powered by a lithium-ion battery. The estimated 220 miles of range can be achieved through Level 1, 2 and 3 (DC Fast Charging) and adding electricity back into the battery through regenerative braking. Subaru says “the Solterra is capable of a significant charge in under an hour.” This can mean when using a Level 3 charger, it can achieve an 80-percent charge in about an hour. Clean Fleet Report will check on the charging speed when we write a more in-depth article on the Solterra sometime in early 2022.
Twin motors put out 215 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque for the symmetrical all-wheel drive system that includes the latest generation of X-MODE, which increases grip and traction in icy, sloppy and off-road conditions. It also includes hill ascent and descent control. Clean Fleet Report recently tested the all-new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness where we put X-MODE through its paces in some pretty rough terrain.
New Design Exterior
With 8.3-inches of ground clearance, the compact Solterra features complete front fender brush guard cladding for protection when going off-road or encountering a wayward shopping cart. Cladding is also found to a more normal degree over the rear wheels and across the lower rear fascia. The front, side and rear overhangs are short, giving the Solterra a wide-looking stance. The sleek aerodynamic roof rails can accommodate up-to 600 pounds when parked, so that three-person tent is a go. The rear hatch has an interesting dual-wing top spoiler with a more conventional lip spoiler at the bottom of the steeply sloped glass. It’s a very contemporary design with narrow LED head and tail lights that take-up little space.
The Solterra’s thin A pillars, sloping hood and tall windows provide excellent forward and side visibility. We didn’t get any drive time at a recent media event, but the front seats felt supportive. While the rear seat holds three with ample shoulder room, the Solterra owners will most likely have the 60/40 second row split seat folded flat to increase the cargo spac heree to 30 cubic feet. The power moonroof was a welcome feature.
The all-new multimedia system has an optional 12.3-inch touchscreen that houses navigation, and SiriusXM/AM/FM radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB ports and wireless phone charging are standard. For all the safety systems Subaru has packed into the Solterra, adding channel and volume knobs for the radio would be way to help keep the driver’s eyes on the road.
Safety and Convenience
The 2023 Solterra comes with active and passive advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), including multiple airbags, advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking and throttle management, and lane departure warning. Additional safety features include blind spot monitoring with lane change assist, a 360-degree camera, and the all-new Safety Exit Alert that notifies occupants, before exiting the vehicle, of obstacles and pedestrians with an audible and visual warning.
Additional safety and convenience features include automatic climate control, rear vision camera, push button start/stop, remote keyless entry, electric power steering, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth control switches, exterior power mirrors, a tire pressure monitoring system and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes.
Pricing and Availability
Pricing has not been released for the 2023 Subaru Solterra, which will come in three trim levels—Base, Premium and Limited. The all-new Solterra is scheduled to be in dealers mid-2022.
Observations: 2023 Subaru Solterra EV
The 2023 Solterra EV was co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, with Subaru handling the AWD, suspension and chassis development. We took a close look at the sister SUV, the Toyota bZ4X, over here. But being a cooperative project didn’t mean the Solterra EV would lose any Subaru DNA, because as they told us, “It had to be a genuine Subaru.” This meant its on- and off-road capabilities would not be compromised leaning either way, but be as good for in-town errands and commuting as on long road trips and off-road. Subaru says they are targeting the Solterra EV towards a younger buyer, which will certainly include people who have never considered a Subaru.
So how will the Subaru faithful take to the Solterra EV? It has the size to fit four-five adults and haul their gear, plus it is ideal for strapping-in a couple of child seats and chauffeuring the little ones to school. For those who drive long distances into the wilderness, it may not meet their needs as the electric range could be an issue. However, if those people get a full charge before heading out into the wilds, they should have no issues getting back to civilization as a 220-mile range should be adequate to meet their needs.
Joining the Subaru family of SUVs—Crosstrek, Forester, Outback and Ascent—the hope is that the Solterra EV finds a niche in the midsize SUV category, using the appeal of standard AWD and plenty of technology, safety and cargo versatility.
When Subaru hands us the Solterra EV keys, we will report on its drivability and real-world driving range. Until then, make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.
Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Subaru.
Some videos of the Subary Solterra in action.