The 2023 Subaru Solterra Is the All-Wheel Drive Legend’s First Foray Into Electrification

November 23, 2021
Written by: Justin Fischer

By Justin Fischer

Subaru Solterra 2023

The 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show has seen several electric vehicles make their production debut. One of the most anticipated is the 2023 Subaru Solterra, an all-wheel drive compact crossover that strives to build upon Subaru’s commitment to sustainability. The Solterra is one-half of the partnership with Toyota that Subaru announced in 2018. The two titans came together with the aim of uniting Subaru’s all-terrain expertise with Toyota’s long-standing leadership in technology and powertrain engineering. 

The result was the new e-SUBARU electric platform that will power the automaker’s EVs well into this decade. Next year, the Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X will both enter the North American market. The two models are similar in most respects, but the Solterra’s standard all-wheel drive stays true to Subaru. 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 Opens Up New Possibilities for Subaru

Subaru Solterra 2023

The 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. Ride quality is yet to be experienced. Static displays and press releases are all Subaru is giving us for now.

A Tech-Heavy Interior with Room to Grow

Subaru Solterra 2023

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. 

An Impressive Suite of Standard 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 Is Less Than Expected, But It’s a Start

Subaru Solterra 2023

Subaru estimates the Solterra’s range at “220+” miles. 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. We can hope that official EPA ratings end up higher than Subaru’s estimate.

Subaru has long been a symbol of reliability and all-weather/all-terrain driving, and it’s about time that they take a dive into the growing EV market. Subaru’s US sales grew 350% from 2009-2019, and the Solterra will likely attract newcomers to the brand. 

Although the range leaves much to be desired, the Solterra is a solid first entry into electrification, and we look forward to seeing what the Toyota-Subaru partnership comes up with next.

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