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2023 Subaru Solterra transforms Toyota off-road


Off-road in a Subaru crossover is nothing new. Climbing toward the sun in the high desert of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest in Subaru’s first all-electric crossover is another thing altogether.

A bridge between the sun and the earth, the 2023 Subaru Solterra comes late to the electric party and makes more inroads for the brand than it does for the electric vehicle market. Built in partnership with Toyota and mechanically and aesthetically related to the Toyota BZ4X, which is also Toyota’s first mass-produced electric vehicle, the Solterra lives in the shadow of its big brother. its birth.

But Toyota’s skinned Solterra does what Subaru is famous for: put its off-road prowess on the trail. Getting to the roads outside of Scottsdale requires more daily driving, and the Subaru’s dual-motor system proves to be suitable if not anodyne. Each 80 kW motor powers one axle and 249 lb-ft of torque has a variable split, shifting 40/60 torque between the front and rear axles during heavy acceleration, and 70/30 when braking to prevent people backing up.

From a stop, it can accelerate to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds and is lighter than some rivals, topping out at 4,505 lb in the top Touring version (the base premium version weighs 4,365). ). When it comes to acceleration, there isn’t much difference in the normal driving mode setting, Eco or Sport can be activated with a simple push of a button on the dashboard.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

Not only is it remarkably quiet for a Subaru, flat-4s can be noisy with a CVT, it’s also quiet for an electric car, without any engine noise. It’s also well insulated from the road, with only a little bit of highway noise coming from the all-season tires wrapped around the tester’s 20-inch wheels (18s is standard). It also drives softly and calmly, with a MacPherson strut up front and a double wishbone setup at the rear, but it can get dry on undulating terrain. I didn’t attempt to push it into the paved 90-degree intersections outside of Scottsdale, but Solterra owners won’t mistake it for an automatic, unless or until the STI performance department catches it. The steering doesn’t provide much feedback, but the small diameter wheels will steer and stay in the right direction.

Like the driving modes, the five regen brake settings aren’t too different. The paddle shifter adjusts four of the settings, and the fifth is an S-Pedal button or a pedal in the control panel. Unlike other EVs, it doesn’t wobble when I release the accelerator and doesn’t squeeze the brake to stop. At about 3 miles per hour, I kept having to slam on the brake. Once stopped, it defaults to creep mode, capable of simulating a gas-powered car in keeping with Toyota’s conservative approach – I mean, Subaru’s first electric car. An automatic hold button keeps it stationary at stops without needing to brake.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

This leg of the trip took me 48 miles at 2.8 mph, based on how I drove in line with the EPA’s 3.1 mile/kwh conversion. Most of that is with the S-Pedal on, but the acceleration reveals a lot of action. The rangefinder started with a reading of 295 miles, dropping to 230 as soon as I set the A/C to 70 degrees. EPA says it has a range of 220 miles (228 for the base model) and 102 MPGe combined (104 for the base model). The confusing thing about Solterra is that there is no display of battery percentage. Subaru says that so as not to confuse EV noobs, but I’m no noob and I’m a bit confused. Anyhow, I’ve gone 48 miles and I’ve lost 59 miles according to the odometer.

Some other oddities about Solterra, which has Toyota DNA all over the cockpit, is the absence of a glovebox and the instrument cluster located at the end of a plastic tray that extends from the front of the instrument panel until it nearly touches. into the windshield. It feels as far away as a head-up display, and the small power meter along with Toyota’s even smaller vertical menu bar to provide vehicle information is a quirky use of real estate. . The top of the wheel can block some screens, but adjusting the seats and steering wheel will solve that.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

Other notable features inside include a horizontal bar that splits the panoramic sunroof. For safety, said Subaru. The other is a wide center console, which is not EV-specific. It takes up front legroom, but it has tiers, so the bottom shelf replaces the glovebox. Covered in samples of non-smudging glossy black plastic, it at least has driving modes and terrain settings, so you don’t have to search around for the available 12.3-inch touchscreen, here’s the version. The latest, much improved version of Toyota. It’s good enough to forget about the past, and voice commands are even better, but it doesn’t automatically fill in the nearest charger, even with the EVgo network in partnership with Subaru.

Finally, the Eco button for climate control automatically sets seat heating and cooling and uses less energy than standard HVAC. Using a occupant detection system, which directly heats and cools the vents only to occupied seats.

It all feels very Toyota, until the end of the sidewalk and road leads into the desert valley. Even with all the traction control settings active, the rear splits apart and goes a little sideways across the filthy gravel. It repaired itself quickly, demonstrated its Subaru system, and turned off the first level of stability control that re-energized the driver. Higher speed off-roading was the highlight of my time at Solterra, and it has proven itself equally capable on more challenging terrain.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

With the X-Mode set to the Snow/Dirt setting, it was able to climb uneven ravines littered with loose rock and all the desert dirt. A third X-Mode setting called Grip Control works like off-road cruise control so the driver can focus on the obstacle and not the pedals, both uphill and downhill. Three settings from 3 to 5 mph can be controlled via a toggle button in the dashboard, and the driver can override this setting with the accelerator, which will then reactivate when under threshold. It works fine, but has to be activated from a stop with the gear setting in the drive. When one wheel slips or engages with the ground, the other wheels strike and hold until it stabilizes on its own. It will help newcomers experience off-road terrain more deeply and gain confidence in its capabilities.

2023 Subaru Solterra

2023 Subaru Solterra

The desert didn’t allow me a chance to test the Solterra’s 19.7-inches of depth, but the Solterra feels as capable off-road as any other Subaru SUV, and more so than the competition’s electric crossovers . Subaru’s 8.3-inch ground clearance is 1.6 inches more than that of the next best electric crossover competitor, the Volkswagen ID.4, and it boasts better approach and departure angles than those of the next best electric crossover competitor, the Volkswagen ID.4, and it boasts better approach and departure angles. opponents.

This ability is appealing in a Subaru way, and an initial production run of 6,500 units has been booked by Subie loyalists. Although it looks like a Toyota, and doesn’t grow the electric vehicle space, that’s still enough. And now.



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