2023 Subaru Solterra: Branching out with green shoots

“Powering the Solterra’s pair of electric motors is a 72.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack nestled between the axles. Total output is 218 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque, numbers that put the Subaru well below dual-motor examples of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model Y and Volkswagen ID 4. Even so, this EV has no trouble getting up to speed or quickly passing slower-moving traffic. It just doesn’t feel as punchy as its competitors. Even the portly ID 4 Pro is more entertaining to drive.

“That’s not really a surprise, though, considering Toyota took the lead on dynamic tuning. The Solterra’s steering is as lifeless as any Prius, and despite the low center of gravity afforded by the battery pack’s ballast, the Solterra’s soft suspension means it lacks the cornering composure of rivals like the Kia EV6 or Mustang Mach-E. At least Subaru offers multiple levels of regenerative braking, selectable via paddles mounted to the steering wheel, and the Solterra’s maximum regen level is strong enough to allow for one-pedal driving — something you can’t do in an ID 4.”

— Steven Ewing, Road Show by CNET

“The 2023 Subaru Solterra will be available in Premium, Limited, and Touring trims, and it comes well-equipped from the start. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, while Limited and Touring models get a bigger 12.3-inch display. Regardless of size, both screens come with Toyota’s latest infotainment system, which has Google Maps navigation and is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is easy to use, has nice graphics, and offers an ‘intelligent’ assistant that responds to commands when you say ‘Hey, Subaru.’ The assistant can change some cabin settings like the temperature and can turn on the wipers, but it requires a subscription to connect to the cloud for Google Maps navigation. The first year of this service is complimentary, but after that owners will have to pay a monthly fee.

“Based on our first drive experience, we’d go for the subscription. For example: Say, ‘Hey Subaru, take me to a charger,’ and a list of the closest chargers appears on the screen. If you decline the subscription, you’ll lose this feature as well as the driving-range estimate to your destination when using the built-in Google Maps. Subaru hasn’t announced how much it plans to charge for using the cloud, but Toyota prices its service at $16 per month or $160 per year. We expect Subaru’s prices to be similar. …

“A minor complaint: The digital instrument cluster lies atop the dashboard but far away from the driver, and the steering wheel partially blocked our view of it. Unlike most cars where you see the speedometer through the steering wheel, this layout is designed so drivers see over the wheel. But it didn’t work for us. Also, we’re not fans of the piano black trim used on the center console; as usual, it’s shiny and gets dirty easily with fingerprints.”

— Miguel Cortina, Motor Trend


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