Preview: Subaru’s Rugged New Solterra
Sun to Earth, with All-Wheel Drive
Subaru says that the Solterra, the company’s first global all-electric vehicle, was named after the Latin words for “sun” and “earth” to signify its commitment to delivering traditional SUV capability in an environmentally-responsible package. To us, it 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.
With 215 horsepower, standard all-wheel drive, but a low center of gravity thanks to its flat battery pack, the Solterra should provide excellent handling on- and off-road. A 78.2-kWh battery can be recharged from 10 to 80% in less than an hour – DC fast charging can be accomplished at up to 100 kW on a Level 3 charger – quick but not class-leading.
While it shares its platform with the new Toyota bZ4X crossover, 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.”
In all trim levels, Solterra’s interior is as rugged-looking as its exterior. A high-set centre 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.
Three Trim Levels
For the 2023 model year, the well-equipped entry-level Solterra Premium is priced at $44,995 MSRP before incentives – all Solterras qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit, which can be combined with various state and local incentives, which can further reduce the price.
With the smallest wheels and no roof rails, the Premium is also the longest-range Solterra trim, with an EPA-estimated range of 228 miles. It offers Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technologies, blind spot monitoring, an 8-inch multimedia system with wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, cloud-based navigation, 18-inch wheels, and heated front seats.
Next up the ladder is the Solterra Limited, at $48,495 MSRP. Range drops slightly to 222 miles thanks to larger 20-inch alloy wheels. It adds a multimedia system with a larger 12-inch screen, a wireless phone charger, roof rails, power liftgate, power driver’s seat, heated rear seats and steering wheel, synthetic leather upholstery, Harman/Kardon audio system, surround view camera, automatic parking ability, and a digital key that lets you use your phone to unlock and start the car.
The Solterra Touring costs $51,995 MSRP. Fully loaded, it adds a panoramic glass roof with retractable sunshade, ventilated seats, digital rear view mirror to eliminate blind spots, backlit interior trim, and a gloss black hood cowl for a sportier look.
Available For Reservation Now
With the order books opening in April, the all-new Solterra has already generated a lot of interest from buyers, with half of the first year of production already sold out. It’s not hard to see why: factor in the $7,500 federal incentive, and available local incentives that could potentially lop thousands more off the retail price, and you have a well-equipped, good-looking crossover with decent range and power for less than $40,000.
Plus, Subaru is throwing in a $400 EVGo charging credit and the use of 10 free rental car days in three years of ownership, should you need a gasoline vehicle for longer trips. You also get $400 towards the installation of a home charger, and access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in several states.
The 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.