2023 Subaru Solterra: A More Capable Off-Road Electric SUV, but How Far Off Can You Actually Go?


How does the Solterra drive?

The Solterra is powered by a pair of electric motors, which draw from a 72.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The motors produce the equivalent of 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. That might not sound like much, but we drove the Solterra on both city streets and off-road, and found that it should have plenty of thrust for most people. The Solterra has an available Power drive mode — its Toyota cousin does not — which makes acceleration feel more responsive when you hit the right pedal.

The Solterra has a couple more tricks up its sleeve that the bZ4X does not; it has a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel that can be used to increase or decrease the aggressiveness of the vehicle’s regenerative braking. This gives you the option to use a one-pedal driving style (a feature that isn’t offered by the bZ4X), though you still need to step on the brake pedal to come to a complete stop. And while the Solterra and bZ4X AWD models have terrain management modes — which provide extra capability in slippery weather, icy conditions and on dirt and mud — the Solterra’s slightly higher ground clearance and approach angle allow it to venture into places the bZ4X or its competitors cannot.

How comfortable is the Solterra?

The Solterra’s suspension delivers an agreeable ride and capably dampens imperfections on the road. Subaru gave us the opportunity to drive on a variety of off-road surfaces, from gravel pathways to rocky climbs and descents. The Solterra never lost its composure nor did it feel like its passengers were getting battered around on the rough terrain.

One issue caused by the EV platform is a high floor — due to the bulky battery underfoot — which creates a tight opening for entering and exiting from all four doors. The cabin offers plenty of rear legroom, and taller passengers should have no issues stretching out, though rear headroom is a little tight compared with the front. If you plan on regularly transporting taller passengers, skip the panoramic moonroof on the top-of-the-line Touring model to gain about an inch more headroom in the back.


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