2023 Subaru Solterra: EV meets PHEV

The 2023 Subaru Solterra doesn’t have 500 horsepower or 300 miles of range. It cannot recharge in 15 minutes or power your home as a backup generator. There’s no frunk, and it won’t knock you over with outrageous specs or design. We’d consider it a late call if it weren’t for its off-road acumen, which makes it rather unique among mainstream EVs. Sure, you can glaze your shrimp in the trunk of a Ford Mustang Mach-E, and you can power your fridge with a Kia EV6. But you wouldn’t want to take either of these crossovers too far off the beaten path. The Solterra, on the other hand, is like most Subarus: clearance for some trail work. It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing them treated with the official Crosstrek starter kit, donning a two-inch suspension lift and a set of BFGoodrich KO2s.

As with its BRZ coupe, Subaru co-developed the Solterra with Toyota, which has a counterpart named bZ4x. But the Solterra and the bZ4x diverge more than the BRZ and its Toyota GR86 twin, notably in the fact that the Solterra is only offered with all-wheel drive, which is in keeping with the Subaru philosophy; the bZ4x offers a variant with less front-wheel drive. With 8.3 inches of ground clearance, decent approach and departure angles, and 19.7 inches of fording ability, the Solterra should be happy enough to haul your mountain bikes to the start of the trail. path. Or take your kayak to the set up, or take your big goofy pooch to this dog park accessible only by a rutted forest road. You won’t want to get carried away too much, but we took it on some ORV trails in Arizona and it acquitted itself surprisingly well, climbing hills steep enough that you had to use the forward-facing camera to see over blind ridges.

Like Subaru’s rugged Wilderness models, the Solterra features a dual-function X-Mode system to match its power to the situation, allowing wheelspin in sand, for example. It also offers brake-based torque vectoring to send power to its axles, mimicking the action of locking differentials, so you can put both corners of the car in the air while still moving forward. . Subaru demonstrated this talent on a set of cleverly laid out ramps, claiming they had wanted to bring competitive vehicles to illustrate the Solterra advantage, but – humble alert! – none of them had enough space in front to climb the ramps.

The Solterra’s two motors generate a total of 218 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque, good for a claimed 60-mph time of 6.5 seconds. That’s believable, as acceleration is similar to an Outback XT, which hits 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. This car clearly belongs to the Outback/Crosstrek branches of the Subaru family tree rather than the WRX sect, although it would be easy enough to fit bigger engines and nudge it in a sportier direction. Despite the absolute lack of muscle, the Solterra can route 60 percent of its torque to the rear, which makes it playful at times. You can also disable the stability control system entirely, which opens up possibilities for rally car antics on gravel or snow. We’ve confirmed that the Solterra is happy to tear up a donut.

With a 72.8 kWh (gross capacity) battery, the Solterra gains a range of 228 miles in the Premium version and 222 miles for the Limited and Touring models, which are heavier and wear 20-inch wheels instead of 18. Charging isn’t particularly fast, with a 6.6kW on-board charger regenerating the battery in nine hours on a Level 2 charger and a 100kW DC fast-charging setup delivering an 80 per cent charge in 56 minutes . Subaru envisions owners charging home overnight rather than making interstate trips. If your campsite is over 100 miles away, maybe take the Forester.

As you can tell by looking at it, Subaru and Toyota didn’t prioritize the practicality of hauling cargo. The front end of the Solterra avoids a frunk, and the sloping roofline means the rear cargo area is better suited to errands than bikes, for example. In the name of an airy interior, there isn’t even a glove box. But the roof rack – static capacity is 700 pounds – is designed for all sorts of accessories, including tents, and an “activity rack” under the rear bumper can accept racks and hitch-mounted racks. Its tow rating, however, is “no.”

We imagine Subaru did some market research identifying the Solterra customer as a retired North Face executive who lives in Boulder, Colorado and owns 1.7 kayaks. A decade from now, this 2023 Solterra will be purchased by its fifth owner, a snowboard instructor named Xander. It’s a very specific audience, which is why they’re only building 6500 Solterras for 2023.

Subaru should have no problem selling this year’s production, but its ability to increase volume later will depend a lot on the price, which has yet to be announced. At around $40,000 and eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, the Solterra makes its case. At higher prices, it runs up against competitors that have considerably more power and range, attributes that for most people are probably more important than rated off-road capability. But the goal here is not to dominate the EV market. This is Subaru testing the waters to see if its crossover audience is ready to trade flat-fours for flat floors. It’s about selling electrification to that particular crowd. And perhaps just as much to himself.

Characteristics

Characteristics

Subaru Solterra 2023
Vehicle Type: Front and Rear Engine, All-Wheel Drive, 5 Passenger, 4-Door Station Wagon

THE PRICE (CD EAST)
Basic: $40,000

POWERTRAIN
Front motor: Permanent magnet AC synchronous, 107 hp, 125 lb-ft
Rear motor: Permanent magnet AC synchronous, 107 hp, 125 lb-ft
Combined power: 218 hp
Combined torque: 249 lb-ft
Battery: Liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 72.8 kWh (gross)
On-board charger: 6.6 kW
Transmissions: direct drive

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 112.2″
Length: 184.6″
Width: 73.2″
Height: 65.1″
Cargo volume: 30 feet3
Unloaded weight (CD east): 4400–4500 lbs.

PERFORMANCE (CD EAST)
100 km/h: 6.5 sec
1/4 mile: 15.2 sec
Maximum speed: 110mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 102–104/111–114/93–94 MPGe
Range: 222–228 miles


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