Subaru's All-Electric, AWD Solterra
Subaru of America says that the Solterra, the company’s first global all-electric vehicle, is named after the Latin words for “sun” and “earth” to signify its commitment to delivering SUV capability in an environmentally-responsible package. To us, the name also speaks to the vehicle’s ability and desire to take you all places under the sun, traversing all kinds of surfaces, in search of adventure but without leaving a carbon-footprint mess in its wake.
The Solterra is actually a joint project with Toyota, and shares its basic building blocks with that brand’s bZ4X crossover, which also features a sleek, “faceless” body without a grille, punctuated by sporty SUV styling touches such as powerful black wheel arches, tall ride height, and even a contrasting roof. This isn’t the first time the two companies have worked together. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 were also co-developed and have built an great reputation for awesome reliability, solid build, and driving fun.
With standard all-wheel drive (which we have come to expect from Subaru), but a low center of gravity thanks to its flat battery pack, the Solterra should provide excellent handling on- and off-road. Its standard 72-kWh battery can be recharged from 10 to 80% in less than an hour, and provides 215 hp and more than 220 miles of range, according to Subaru. The company hasn’t announced any more specific charging specifications; neither has Toyota.
Built for Adventure
While it shares its platform with the bZ4X, the Solterra differs in a number of important details, due to its more adventurous positioning. For instance, all-wheel drive is standard and not optional (the bZ4X starts with front-wheel drive), and the Subaru has 8.3 inches of ground clearance for better rough-road and off-road capability. An electric version of Subaru’s “X-Mode” is also standard. X-Mode improves performance in low-friction and off-road conditions by maintaining a 50/50 power split between the front and rear axles; the Solterra also includes Grip Control which has both hill ascent and descent assist to make off-roading easy. On-road, the two motors deliver power as needed to each axle, and selectable regenerative braking modes allow drivers to control how aggressively the Solterra charges its battery when you let off the “gas.”
Rugged Inside and Out
Solterra’s interior is as rugged-looking as its exterior, with tough-looking fabrics. A high-set center console floats above a large storage area, while a totally flat floor makes the rear cabin surprisingly spacious. Total passenger and cargo capacity is up to 126 cubic feet, with 30 cubic feet available behind the rear seats. An optional panoramic glass roof brings lots of light inside, while a large touch screen and big physical controls for important functions makes the advanced technology easy to use. Solterra's infotainment system comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ and an available wireless charging phone dock in the center console. Smartphone app connectivity includes remote climate control and remote lock/unlocking, both contributing to a more convenient and connected drive. The remote climate control system can automatically warm up or cool down the vehicle before departure, even when garaged.
Countless Safety Features
The new Solterra offers a big suite of safety technology including the company's EyeSight driver assist technology, blind spot monitoring system with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Also standard is parking support brake, which can apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing. A 360-Degree Surround-View Camera system allows for better all-around situational awareness. Standard "safe exit assist" notifies occupants, before exiting the vehicle, of approaching vehicles with an audible and visual warning. The all-new Solterra joins a very outdoorsy lineup of crossovers at Subaru. Models like the Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek have justifiably earned a great reputation for reliability and toughness. To see the brand add sustainability to that mix is exciting indeed. A price has yet to be announced, but expect front-wheel drive models to start in the high thirties, and the more expensive all-wheel drive models to be in the low forties, before federal and regional incentives.