2023 Subaru Solterra First Drive

Discussion in 'Subaru' started by xcel, Jul 26, 2022.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] Subaru's first full electric is certainly capable but includes a few standard first misses.

    Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – July 26, 2022

    2023 Subaru Solterra

    Ready for light off-road and off-road ascents/descents while taking the average family to the grocery store with no local emissions.​

    Subaru’s first all-electric SUV is called “Solterra”.

    Solterra Design

    Solterra uses Subaru’s signature hexagonal grille outline but without an opening through to the lower front fascia. Thin and wide LED headlights complement this design while a low hood line also contributes to the SUV’s aerodynamic performance and excellent forward visibility. Missing is a “Frunk” to carry cargo as seen in small form factors in the Ioniq 5 and EV6 and larger cargo capacity within the Mach-E and Model Y.
    On the side, short front and rear overhangs and those damn overly verbose front wheel arch moldings molded into the headlamps from the bZ4X. In darker colors, it is hidden but damn…

    A few miles of off-roading on Catalina Island provides a hell of a backdrop. ;)

    The aerodynamically sloped rear glass has a standard ducktail spoiler at the bottom and, on higher trims levels, a dual-spoiler at the top. I am not a fan of the dual spoiler, but Toyota stated it improved aero? Subaru said very little about it. Out back, the rear combination lamps use trapezoidal theme.


    Moving inside, a clean design with a high-resolution touchscreen. Generous storage and the optional panoramic glass roof opens up the interior creating the feeling of a larger space then the compact CUV really offers.

    Remember the bZ4Xs wheel placement and ergonomic feel and sightline miscue? The Solterra inherited it as well. :(


    The Solterra provides 96/29 cu ft of passenger/cargo volume and a nearly flat floor which fits nicely in the segment. Unfortunately, there was a design flaw in that rear seat occupants cannot place their feet fully under the front seats creating a more confined seating position.


    The useable cargo space behind the rear seats is enhanced with 60/40 folding seatbacks and two-position load floor. The wide 41.3-inch rear gate opening with low liftover height allows easy loading and unloading. Standard fixed cross bar mounting points add more cargo-carrying options to suit owners’ needs.

    The Solterra includes Toyota’s all-new and finally solid multimedia system with an available 12.3” central display. The new system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto standard. A Qi wireless charging phone dock is available for the center console.

    Built off the Toyota system designed in Plano, SUBARU SOLTERRA CONNECT offers OTA updates, Wi-Fi, and an Intelligent Assistant.

    But wait, is the Solterra not a bZ4X? The platform and hard points are the same but there are a few differences.

    1. The AWD bZ4X does include Subaru’s X-Mode but not the FWD of course
    2. Higher Ground Clearance thanks in part to taller tire profiles
    3. Better heated seat design
    4. A faux grille cutout that removes the dull flat face and helps hide the cladding into the headlamps misstep
    5. A 750 lb cap load roof that can be used for a roof tent or other adventure needs
    The Catalina Island buffalo were a benefit for this pic. ;)

    Solterra’s All-Electric Drivetrain

    Like all Subaru’s, the Solterra will arrive with AWD providing outstanding traction and capability both on and off the road. The Dual-Function X-MODE includes Snow, Dirt and Deep Snow, and Mud modes. The system also features Grip Control and Downhill Assist Control. With 8.3 inches of ground clearance and (2) 80 KW motors - front and rear, provide 215 hp and 249 lb.-ft. of torque allowing Solterra to do it all without consuming a drop of gasoline. EVER!

    The elephant in the room is the range shortfall vs its competitors. With the smallish 72.8 kWh Li-Ion traction battery, the base Premium trim with its 18” alloys are rated at just 228 miles while the Limited and Touring with their energy sucking 20’s offers just 222-miles or range. If there was ever the need for a 90+ KWh pack and smaller wheels with taller profiles, this is it.

    Another glaring misstep and it is no fault to Subaru is that the Solterra incorporates the worst Li-Ion battery pack of any modern BEV. Toyota’s decision to force the Chinese battery manufacturer CATLs units into the AWD Solterra and bZ4X harms the initial offerings attraction immensely. With DCFC rated at just 100 KW, Subaru stated the Solterra can charge up to 80-percent in just under an hour. On paper, this fits within the realm of the Mustang Mach-E that took 1-hour and 1-minute to charge from 7 to 83% on a slower EA 150 KW but numerous journalists charging the AWD bZ4X have shown charging rates of < 50 KW from a wide range of initial SOCs indicating a charge time closer to 2-hours or more from near flat. By comparison, you have all seen the Ioniq 5 and EV6 charge from 5 to 80% in under 20-minutes. This is bad news for Subaru’s first BEV with a forced error initiated by Toyota.

    Fortunately, Subaru has an answer for that in that they are allowing owners a 10-day per year loaner of a std. ICE equipped model for a longer distance trip.

    I have little confidence this low rate of charge is going to work for anyone needing to use public DCFCers on a road trip.

    Solterra Pricing and Touring Trim Detail

    Competitive Comparisons

    Here is a slide from the first drive intro describing what the Solterra brings to the table vs its contemporaries in terms of approach and departure angle and ground clearance. They did in fact set the high bar for AWD all-electrics.

    Solterra’s Approach, Departure, and Ground Clearance Leadership


    For light off-road use, Subaru knows what works.​


    Solterra Safety

    The new Solterra offers standard EyeSight driver assist tech that includes Emergency Steering Assist, Intersection Collision Avoidance Support, Pre-Collision Brake Assist, Lane Departure Prevention, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Lane Tracing Assist.

    Additional standard active safety features include Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Rear Camera Detection with Pedestrian Warning. The standard Parking Support Brake feature can apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing.

    Standard multi-element LED Headlights include Auto High Beam. Standard front, side, side curtains and driver and front passenger knee airbags are standard across all trims.

    For the first time in a Subaru, a 360-Degree Panoramic View Monitor provides an overhead view of the vehicle for better all-around situational awareness. Also new for Subaru, Solterra is equipped with standard Safe Exit Assist. The new safety feature notifies occupants, before exiting the vehicle, of approaching vehicles with an audible and visual warning.

    Solterra joins Subaru SUV line-up including Outback, Forester, Crosstrek and Crosstrek PHEV. The all-new Solterra will go on sale very soon.

    I have to run over to my local Discount Tire for a tire change on the Prius Prime. When I get back, I will add more early conclusions from the first drive...

    BillLin likes this.
  2. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Is the slower charge rate for fact because of the battery, or is because of the equipment with the lower power front motor?
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  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Trollbait:

    Interesting point. The AWD Solterra motors just like the AWD bZ4X use the same 80 KW units front and rear and both use the CATL 72.8 KWh pack. The charging rate is forced by the pack design and BSM throttling, not the motors. Possibly the output put a clamp on the charging rate since it is through the same inverter? That would be a poor design since the FWD bZ4X and RZ would have to use a higher capacity unit and on just a few thousand at that. I will ask the next time I am speaking with one of the Toyota/Lexus engineers. At that bZ4X short lead, they would not even talk about the 100 KW charging even though I did! More than once too.

    In either case, living with a 100 KW, maximum 1.4C, charging rate for any open road use is a huge negative. This charge rate is more important than 0 to 60 and even range in some cases while out on the open road. The few that have charged the AWD bZ4X at ridiculously low rates of < 60 KW on 150 and 350 KW EAs have shown me this is not a road trip vehicle by any means when compared to its competitors. While at the short lead, I could almost feel the frustration that the Subaru guys had with the range and charging rate designs they were forced to use from Toyota.

    The Subaru engineers were quick to point out their AWD X-Mode inclusion and rightfully so. The first pic was a good 30 to 40 degree ascent with 1 to 1.5 ft deep ruts you would not want to drive anything new over. The Solterra took that on with just a few wheel slips. It was so steep I was only looking at sky over the hood when climbing that beast! Brand new $50k prototypes and we were beating the $**t out of them on these aggressively rutted gravel and dirt roads. ;)

    2023 Subaru Solterra

    Designed to drive on this kind of road but will be driven on what we really drive on every day. ;)

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  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    And I thought this want vs need slide was very unique for the Subaru brand as well.

    Subaru's Wants vs real world Need to drive off-road vs competitors and


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  5. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Speculation at Priuschat was that the DC to DC converter for the motor could be the charging choke point. Having it pull double duty for DC charging is a cost cutting measure. As to why not use the 150kW unit with the 80kW motor for faster charging, aren't the motors and converters packaged together? Toyota would then need to have three different assemblies to do this, if that is the case. The 150/150 motor/converter for the FWD and 80/100 one for AWD already exist. Faster AWD charging would need a 80/150 unit.

    The RZ is going to be 150kW front and 80kW rear. Is there greater technical details out for it yet? That could address the speculation. It could just be the CATL cells or the pack's configuration. Then the question becomes, "Why give the likely more popular AWD model slower charging?"

    On another note, a Lexus critter said the RZ was designed for the Chinese market in terms of range and abilities. Assume that goes for the Toyota and Subaru. The negative spin would be that Toyota is still thinking compliance in regards to BEVs.

    PS: My new Outback has a front camera for those steep inclines.
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  6. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Congrats on your new Outback! Nice!

    I added a cheap camera up front on my Crosstrek, but I haven't used it since I first add/tested it a couple years ago. I was trying to find a use for the add-on wireless camera that I had agreed to test for someone. It'll be there if I ever need it. :)

    Agreed, the jury's still out on whether Toyota's serious about EVs. Hopefully production will ramp up and the bZ4x/Solterra will be good runabouts for a lot of people, just not necessarily road-trip vehicles. Although as Wayne said, the 2wd Toyota's not too bad charging wise.
    Janice Cooper and xcel like this.
  7. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I'd be thrilled if Toyota got serious about PHEV's.
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  8. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Unfortunately, that double-edged sword has seen sufficient Toyota PHEV sales to begin the sunsetting of the federal tax incentives. If Toyota had produced more PHEVs, they would likely have sold all of them, but the Toyota BEVs would not have any tax incentives left. Yes, it is time the BEVs stood on their own as Tesla has been doing with theirs, albeit in a more and more unaffordable way. Money can't buy happiness, but I wouldn't mind being unhappy in a Model 3 LR right now. :D

    Clearly, Toyota sees hybrids as the volume vehicles for the foreseeable future, to the extent that they would put the new solid-state batteries in them. (soon?)
  9. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Looking like there is an agreement on a climate change bill in the Senate that includes new incentives for EVs. There are domestic production limits though, that Toyota models might run afoul off.

    Toyota's stated reason for putting solid state into hybrids first is that the technology isn't hardy enough for EVs yet. The duty cycle in a hybrid would mean faster development, or hybrid owners become beta testers. There is also the fact that there isn't any large scale solid state battery production yet. So going with a hybrid first means more cars to sell with lower cost per car.
    EdwinTheMagnificent, xcel and BillLin like this.
  10. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I could tolerate that kind of misery.
    BillLin likes this.
  11. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    I have unintentionally been buying Toyota and Subaru cars built in Japan, though I know there are models built in the USA. It just happened that way with the models I chose.
  12. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    And some models sold here are assembled in both. The plug ins are built in Japan though. The only foreign brands with EV plants in NA now or soon are VW and BMW.
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  13. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I'm a bit of a Japsnob , but my American-made Toyotas and Hondas were excellent.
    The Prius was built in Japan.
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  14. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Trollbait:

    The 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning is also made in the USA at the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn. As you mentioned, the VW I.D.4 is now being produced in Chattanooga. ;)

    2023 Ford F-150 Lightning


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  15. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    And in the "coming soon" column is Vinfast, the Vietnamese manufacturer with plans to assemble their all EV lineup and battery packs near Raleigh/Durham.
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  16. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Vinfast will be interesting to watch. Battery as a subscription. How would tax incentives work with those? Wouldn't the vehicles technically have 0 kWh on board?

    Good looking vehicles to my eye, but too bad they're currently just big SUV and bigger SUV. Lots of HP, and starting at $40k. Americans will probably go for them.
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  17. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    What I saw earlier this year from Vinfast is encouraging. They seem to be targeting the "luxury without burning cash" market that Genesis has been chasing with some success for almost 15 years now.
    The styling details and equipment list suggest they're going after that upmarket crowd but with "introductory pricing" when sales start. If they want to succeed, the product had better be bulletproof and refined enough that C*ns*m*r R*p*rts doesn't pan it for "slightly fussy handling" or "inconvenient defroster button placement" or "acceleration barely competitive with Italian sports cars" or any other subjective silliness that strung out junkies always obsess on instead of just stating facts and presenting the product for evaluation. Attention Connecticut crackheads - we don't care what you think. Just tell us the raw data and figures for the car, not your opinion about it.
  18. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Sometime in 2024 it seems for that factory. Don't know about BMW, but ID.4 production in Tennessee should have started this month.
    How did it work with the smart ED battery lease? Credit to the company, and hopefully some savings passed on?

    Won't matter if the climate bill passes; that doesn't have a kWh requirement. Just North American content and assembly point.
  19. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    The bZ4X August 2022 production schedule has been severely curtailed due to parts supply shortages.

    2023 Subaru Solterra

    Dirty and ready for action along the Pacific.​

    From a Toyota Japan release earlier this week, Toyota would like to apologize for the repeated adjustments to their production plans due to the parts shortage resulting from the spread of COVID-19, and for causing considerable inconvenience to customers, who have been waiting for the delivery of vehicles, suppliers, and other parties concerned.

    As for the announced domestic operations suspension in August due to the shortage of semiconductors (August Production Plan), Toyota has decided to reduce the period of the scheduled production suspension. They will utilize the parts meant to be used during the partial plants/lines suspension caused by heavy rain damage in Aichi Prefecture and its surroundings. The global production forecast for August remains unchanged (approx. 700,000 units).

    It remains difficult to plan ahead due to the shortage of semiconductors and the spread of COVID-19, there is a possibility that the production plan may be lowered yet again. However, they will examine the parts supply closely to minimize sudden decreases in production, and continue to make every effort possible to deliver as many vehicles to our customers at the earliest date.

    The following is the revised domestic operations suspension schedule for August.

    Toyota Adjustments to Japanese Production Plan for August

    Plants: Motomachi Plant

    Production Model(s): bZ4X, Subaru Solterra, MIRAI

    Period of production suspension: Aug 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31

    This compares to 2 days of August production curtailment for the Prius, Prius Prime and Corolla, 2 days for the Corolla Sport and Camry, 11-days for the Lexus LX and Land Cruiser 300, 1-day for the Land Cruiser 70, and 1-day for the RAV4.
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  20. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Bummer that we're still dealing with these semiconductor shortages, and YOY sales figures are still declining. It's not like last year was a good one. Is this still mostly because of China's ridiculous lockdowns?

    That is a major disappointment with the charging rate, and that's going to hurt Toyota/Subaru here. I would have considered the Solterra/bz4x as one of my top choices if we were to buy a new EV, but in 2022 if it's not roadtrip-ready, it's not ready. Also too bad about not being able to put toes under the front seats. That makes a difference of several inches in effective legroom.

    Anyone know if Hyundai is ACTUALLY building/shipping SE Standard Range versions of the Ioniq 5? All the automakers are playing bait-and-switch, showing far more affordable vehicles in their Build and Price tools than actually exist in inventory. Hyundai might claim "from $40,900" on their website, but I'm only seeing SE Long Range AWD versions in inventory, actual MSRPs $49,000 and up. And of course that's before Dealer Markup.

    No mention of the heat pump? I've seen little coverage of this, but my understanding is a heat pump was planned to be standard on the Solterra. Anyone have confirmation? And also, is it standard on the bz4x (really don't need AWD anyway), or only on the higher end trims? I'm disappointed Hyundai/Kia are only including it on their AWD versions, which again I don't need. I'm having a hard time finding an EV you can buy with a heat pump for under about $47k, other than the SV and higher trims of the Leaf - which are obsolete CHaDeMo (no, Nissan never switched the Leaf to CCS), so I might as well keep driving my Leaf for a while. Will keep my eye on the Ariya once it comes out, since that will have a standard HP. Still don't understand why all the Ariya promo photos show that puke rose gold color - does anyone actually like that? If so, I'm living in a world I don't understand anymore.

    Anyway, so many disappointments about the new EVs, especially since the shortages have made affordable gas cars impossible to buy anyway. I want to get excited, but there are so many missteps.
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