- Quiet ride
- Good acceleration
- Off-road prowess
- Standard AWD
- Distinctive design
- Too much Toyota inside
- Funky instrument cluster
- Limited range
Subaru’s first electric vehicle has AWD soul within its Toyota body.
What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Subaru Solterra? What does it compare to?
Manufactured in partnership with Toyota, the 2023 Solterra electric crossover shares many mechanicals with the related Toyota BZ4X. Other rivals include the Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Tesla Model Y.
Is the 2023 Subaru Solterra a good SUV?
In line with other Subaru crossover SUVs, it’s a practical, versatile electric car with standard all-wheel drive and good off-road capability. It drives with more punch and less noise than other Subarus, but inside and out it looks more like a Toyota. Its good standard feature set and on-road and off-road manners offset its cramped cockpit, odd instrument cluster, and middling range to earn a TCC Rating of 7.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
What's new for the 2023 Subaru Solterra?
Subaru’s first global electric vehicle is necessary for the brand to keep up with the marketplace, but it doesn’t break any new ground for electric vehicles. On the spectrum of twins, the Solterra and Toyota BZ4X lean more to the identical than fraternal side of things, sharing not just a platform but body styles and interior finishes. The other partnership with Toyota bears more distinction between the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 sport coupes.
Sized like the Subaru Forester but with Toyota DNA coursing through it, the Solterra is enveloped in black cladding like a falconry hood. Side curtains up front and a steeply raked rear windshield topped with twin-split spoilers emphasize the aero baked into the design. Inside, Subaru bows to Toyota’s design with an oddly recessed instrument cluster, and a wide console topped by the latest iteration of Toyota’s infotainment system.
A dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, fed by a 72.8-kwh battery pack propels the Solterra to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, but it’ll feel much quicker than any other Subaru SUV. It has an EPA-rated range of 228 miles, and a Level 2 charger can bring it back to full in about nine hours. It also rides whisper quiet, and its independent suspension smothers rocky road surfaces though it can wallow a bit on undulating roadways. With a ground clearance of 8.3 inches and three off-road settings, the Solterra can go off trail as well as an Outback, though it cannot be equipped to tow anything.
When parked, you can load up to 700 lb on the roof, and when in motion, expect to see carriers strapped across the available roof rails. The angled rear windshield cuts into rear cargo room, but its two-tiered floor still helps stow 30 cubic feet, and rear leg room is better than up front due to the wide center console.
The Solterra awaits official crash-test ratings, but Subaru equips it with plenty of tech to avoid or minimize crashes, such as automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.
How much does the 2023 Subaru Solterra cost?
Sold in Premium, Limited, and Touring trims, the AWD Solterra starts at $46,220, including a $1,225 destination fee. Standard features on the base Premium include 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, and at least five USB ports.
We prefer the Limited for $49,720. It adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a surround-view camera system, power front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, and wireless smartphone charging.
The top Touring trim costs $53,220, and comes with navigation, cooled seats, and a panoramic sunroof.
Where is the 2023 Subaru Solterra made?
In Toyota’s Motomachi plant in Japan.
2023 Subaru Solterra
The Solterra defers too much to its Toyota twin.
Is the Subaru Solterra a good-looking car?
It’s distinctive enough to earn a point for the outside even though it’s nearly identical to the Toyota BZ4X. Too much Toyota compromises the interior. It’s a 6.
Subaru’s black cladding expands under Toyota’s influence, and the body creases and roofline make it look more like a Toyota RAV4 than a Subaru anything. Black cladding on the front fenders wrap under the LED headlights like a racoon. Functional side curtains that help with aerodynamics open up between the front fascia and wheels. Fog lights split the lower fender, which is also clad in black plastic around the lip spoiler. The high-shouldered hood opens up to the HVAC system and front motor, instead of a frunk, as in other EVs. Subaru said a frunk would make the nose longer and could compromise safety in a crash, depending on the contents in the frunk.
The charge port on the front driver’s side cuts into the cladding before it runs along the rockers over the rear wheel arches, where its octagonal shape most resembles Toyota’s Corolla Cross and RAV4. It hugs the lower rear end under the liftgate, covering the sheetmetal and sparing Subaru owners’ dogs from scratching the paint when jumping in back. The taillights brace the rear on the sides and bottom, looking like a corner wall bracket but also helping improve aero as well, according to Subaru. The rear features a steeply raked windshield and a split rear roof spoiler that funnels air down the back and off the duckbill spoiler; there’s no rear windshield wiper because the air tunnel should clear moisture and debris, allegedly.
The raked design of the rear windshield doesn’t chop off too much cargo space inside, and with five seats upholstered in Subaru’s animal-free and water-repellent synthetic leather, it should feel familiar to Subaru owners, until they sit up front. The cockpit features Toyota’s wide 12.3-inch touchscreen over a wide center console covered in gloss black plastic. The console features an array of drive buttons and a gear selector, but it’s width eats into leg room and comfort. The recessed instrument cluster might be the most noteworthy and unusual feature, set deep enough back to nearly touch the windshield, with a big gap between it and the steering wheel, almost as if your head should be the steering wheel and the vehicle should be a motorcycle. The upper rim can limit some angles, but that’s why there’s seat and steering wheel settings, and the unusual layout becomes familiar soon enough.
2023 Subaru Solterra
The Solterra drives with punchy electric power and standard AWD with off-road bona fides.
The Solterra utilizes a motor on each axle for AWD capability in the Subaru way, but unlike other Subarus the Solterra rides whisper quiet and has the smooth torque delivery characteristic of other electric cars. A ground clearance of 8.3 inches along with an off-road ride control system gives it more off-road capability than other mainstream electric crossovers. It’s a 7.
It has a 72.8-kwh battery pack supplied by CATL in four stacks of 96 cells total. Subaru did not disclose usable battery capacity, which is typically 5-10% lower than gross capacity.
How fast is the Subaru Solterra?
With its dual-motor system, the Solterra hustles to 60 mph in the mid six-second range. Weighing between 4,365 to 4,505 lb, the Solterra carries a lighter load than many rivals, but its 80-kw motors can be on the smaller side as well. The two motors produce 218 hp and 249 lb-ft of torque, which will feel like plenty for most drivers, and with linear instant torque delivery it has far more thrust than other Subaru models. There isn’t much differentiation in acceleration between the normal, Eco, and Power drive modes.
A more remarkable trait is the supreme quiet in the cabin. There’s no motor whir, and just a little highway road noise from the all-season tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels on the base model or 20-inch wheels elsewhere.
The ride is composed, but even with MacPherson front struts and an independent rear suspension with adaptive dampers, the suspension can feel a bit flabby on undulating surfaces. The steering is predictably numb, but the small-diameter steering wheel follows orders predictably as well.
Is the Solterra 4WD?
What most distinguishes the Solterra as a Subaru is all-wheel drive with off-road capability. The variable torque split can send 40/60 power to the front/rear axle under heavy acceleration to give it more rear-wheel-drive-like grunt, and a 70/30-split when braking to minimize understeer.
Like other Subaru Wilderness models, it features an X-Mode button on the console with either a Snow/Dirt setting or Deep Snow/Mud that adjusts the traction control settings and throttle input to send torque to the wheels with the most grip. The latest X-Mode enhancement and exclusive to the Solterra is called Grip Control, which is a hill descent control system that acts like an off-road cruise control so drivers can focus on the obstacles, not the pedals. With three settings between 3 and 5 mph, the driver can override the setting with the accelerator, then the system will reactivate once below the threshold. It works well, but must be activated from a stop with the gear setting in drive.
Subaru’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance is 1.6 inches more than the next-best electric crossover competitor, the ID.4. Subaru boasts better approach and departure angles than rivals, and a wading depth of 19.7 inches.
The Solterra essentially has five regen brake settings, but not a true one-pedal drive as in other electric cars. Four of the settings are adjustable through the paddle shifters for various levels of regen. It coasts like a traditional gas car, lacking the lurch endemic to more aggressive regen brake systems. The S-Pedal or single-drive function activates through a button on the console and gets you close enough to a stop—down to about 3 mph—without using the brake, but it doesn’t make a complete stop. The Solterra creeps at stops by default, like a gas car, unless the auto hold setting is depressed.
2023 Subaru Solterra
Comfort & Quality
The Solterra doesn’t optimize space like other EVs, but it’s still roomy.
With seats for five but comfort for four, the Solterra nearly matches other electric crossovers. It earns a point each for its general roominess with good rear-seat leg room, and good cargo hold for a 7 on our scale.
But there are some oddities and missed opportunities. Instead of a glovebox, there’s a tiered center console with plenty of storage on the open lower shelf as well as in the armrest console. The console is so wide, however, that it eats into front leg and hip room. There’s plenty of leg room in back, though Subaru didn’t have final specs at publication time. Well-padded seats are covered in Subaru’s water-repellant synthetic leather upholstery made of recycled water bottles, in part.
With the 60/40-split rear seats up, there is 30 cubic feet of cargo volume in back. Due to the raked windshield, cargo room isn’t as great as the Forester or other Subaru SUVs, but a two-tiered floor adds some versatility and storage areas for funky gear.
Overhead, an available panoramic sunroof is interrupted by a crossbrace, whereas other EVs have a full fixed glass roof. When equipped with roof-rail crossbars, the roof can support up to 700 lb when parked, which is more than enough for roof-top tents and a pair of star-eyed campers.
A tray below the center console replaces a glove box, and the dash is covered in corduroy made for machines, by machines; otherwise, it’s a gloss black plastic party. Panel gaps on the hood also put a ding in our assessment of fit and finish, but consider our nits picked.
2023 Subaru Solterra
The Subaru Solterra awaits crash-test results.
How safe is the Subaru Solterra?
Crash-test results haven’t been finalized at publication time, but Subaru equips the Solterra with plenty of driver-assist features that can help avoid crashes.
Using a single camera with radar instead of Subaru’s traditional dual-camera system, this iteration of EyeSight comes with automatic emergency braking front and rear, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and a feature called Safe Exit Assist that alerts exiting passengers of a vehicle or cyclist coming up on the car’s blind side. On all but the base trim, a surround-view camera system with split views helps with parking and off-roading.
2023 Subaru Solterra
The Solterra Limited bundles the best features.
Offered in three trims, the Solterra’s standard feature set, good infotainment, and relative AWD value earn it a point each to an 8. A basic 3-year/36,000-mile warranty fails to earn a point, but the electrified parts are guaranteed for 8 years or 100,000 miles with a battery retention rate of 70%.
Which Subaru Solterra should I buy?
Step over the base Premium for the mid-grade Limited trim for $49,720. The touchscreen with wireless smartphone compatibility expands from 8.0 inches to 12.3 inches, and it includes wireless smartphone charging. Though it lacks a home screen, the HD display is easy to navigate and underscored by a panel of climate and drive mode buttons to compartmentalize functions. The “Hey Subaru” voice commands are excellent, but there’s not a function that auto-populates routes to recommended chargers; you have to ask or use the app.
The Limited trim upgrades the wheels from 18 to 20 inches, adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, expands heaters from the front seats to include the rear outboard seats, and turns it up with Harman Kardon sound. It comes with the Digital Key app, a power tailgate, heated steering wheel, roof rails, and a wireless phone charger.
How much is a fully loaded Subaru Solterra?
For $53,220, the top Touring trim adds a memory driver seat, cloud-based navigation, ambient lighting, rear-view mirror camera, power-folding side mirrors, cooled front seats, and a panoramic moonroof.
2023 Subaru Solterra
The Solterra awaits certification from the EPA.
Is the Subaru Solterra good on energy?
Powered by electrons, the Solterra has a 72.8-kwh lithium-ion battery pack with an estimated range of up to 228 miles; Limited and Touring modes are EPA-rated at 220 miles. The EPA rates its efficiency at 3.1 miles per kilowatt hour, or an equivalent of 104 MPG combined (102 MPGe in all but the base model). Like every other electric vehicle, that rating qualifies for a 10 on our scale.
A heat pump and an Eco efficiency setting that optimizes climate control help preserve battery power. Additionally, it uses the occupant detection system to direct heating or cooling only to seats with passengers.
But frustratingly, the range meter does not show percentage charge remaining on the battery, guesstimating only the mileage range. DC Fast-charging at up to 100 kw will enable an 80% charge in about 56 minutes. A 240-volt Level 2 charger with 32 amps will charge in nine hours, but at 8 amps it’ll take 35 hours. A home 120-volt Level 1 charger can take 50-77 hours, depending on amperage.
Subaru partnered with EVgo and its network of more than 46,000 public chargers, which are powered by renewable energy. Subaru is still finalizing the benefits to Solterra customers on the EVgo network.