Subaru Electric Car ‘Solterra’ isn’t an electrified Forester [Update]

  • Subaru's first electric model targeted at compact SUV customers
  • Co-developed with Toyota and manufactured alongside Toyota's bZ4X in Japan
  • Priced from USD 46,220 (incl. USD 1,225 Destination & Delivery)
  • Deliveries delayed because of a manufacturing defect

Update: ‘Subaru Solterra production’ section updated.

The Subaru Solterra, which the media referred to as the Subaru Evoltis previously, debuted as the first Subaru electric car in November 2021. It was displayed at the 2021 LA Auto Show.

The Solterra, developed in association with Toyota, is not an electrified Subaru Forester or a ‘conversion’ of an existing Subaru product. Subaru has invested in the future by creating the Solterra, an electric car that is not a traditional engine swap. Unlike other auto manufacturers, Subaru has moved forward without waiting to see if its electric cars will catch on, with help from Toyota.

In this story, we take a close look at the Solterra.

Design

Subaru says that it created the name “Solterra” by joining the word “Sol” and “Terra,” which mean the “Sun” and the “Earth,” respectively, in Latin. The C-segment is the most popular class worldwide and gives automakers a very high level of scale and decent margins. That explains why Volkswagen, Nissan, and Skoda focus on electric cars in the C-segment first – consider the VW ID.3, the VW ID.4, Nissan Leaf, Skoda Enyaq iV, and the Nissan Ariya. In line with the industry trend, Subaru has introduced a C-segment BEV first, in the SUV body style.

The Subaru Solterra is basically a differently designed Toyota bZ4X, and that is evident in its identical shape. Subaru appears to have made no sheet-metal changes and dealt with easily swappable parts like the lights, grilles, bumpers, and wheels to keep the costs low.

At the front, the Solterra has bigger headlamps with C-shaped daytime running lights that are typical of Subarus. Subaru has used a unique hexagonal faux radiator grille and a distinctive bumper also to set the new electric SUV apart from its twin. Both parts carry a sharper design, making the front-end more aggressive compared to the Toyota. Another difference is the application of fog lamps on the Subaru model, a feature that aligns well with the brand’s adventure-themed vehicle line-up.

On the sides, the ‘EV’ badge instead of the bZ4X’s ‘ELECTRIC’ badge on the charging port cover and the model-specific alloy wheels are the differences on the Solterra. At the rear, the Solterra again tries to show that it’s very much a Subaru with uniquely designed tail lamps featuring C-shaped light guides. Unlike on the bZ4X, there’s no light band connecting the tail lamps. The interior design is the same, with the steering wheel’s closed bottom spoke being the only exception. There’s no yoke steering or wing-shaped steering option in this model.

Specifications

The below photograph shows the component structure of the platform with the drive system mounted under the hood and the battery pack embedded in the floor. The Subaru Solterra does not feature a front trunk or a ‘frunk,’ but it does have a nearly flat floor.

Toyota Subaru Evoltis BEV platform
The Subaru Solterra rides on the e-Subaru Global platform co-developed with Toyota. Image: Toyota

In Japan, the Subaru Solterra has a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In the U.S., the battery capacity is 72.8 kWh, the same as the U.S.-spec bZ4X AWD. Subaru offers the U.S.-spec Solterra in only an AWD configuration with two motors that generate 215 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. The U.S.-spec Solterra delivers an EPA-est. range of only 228 miles in the Premium trim and 222 miles in the Limited and Touring trims.

Specification2023 Subaru Solterra (USA)
Battery Pack72.8 kWh
EPA-est. EV Range228 miles (Premium)/ 222 miles (Limited Touring)
EPA-est. Efficiency (MPGe)94/114/104 – Premium and 93/111/102 – Limited and Touring
Drivetrain LayoutAWD
No. of MotorsTwo
Motor output (hp)215
Motor Torque (lb.-ft.)249
Passenger volume (cu.ft)95.7
Cargo volume with rear seat up, luggage compartment deck board up (cu.ft.)27.7
Cargo volume with (rear seat up, luggage compartment deck board down (cu.ft.)29.0
Total passenger & cargo volume (cu.ft.)126
Rear cargo opening width (in.)41.3
Wheelbase (in.)112.2
Length (in.)184.6
Width (in.)73.2
Height (in.)65.0
Seating Capacity5 passengers
Ground clearance (in.)8.3
Curb Weight (lb.)4,365 (Premium)/4,455 (Limited)/4,505 (Touring)
U.S.-spec Subaru Solterra preliminary specifications

In Japan, Solterra customers will be able to charge it with up to 6.6 kW with AC using the on-board charger or with up to 150 kW with DC at fast-charging stations. Subaru hasn’t disclosed the peak charging power for the U.S.-spec Solterra, but it has said that charging to 80% SoC with a DC fast-charger will take less than an hour. Final specifications for the U.S. should become available in the coming months.

Charging MethodCharging Time
L2 240V at 32a9 hours
L1 240v at 8a35 hours
L1 120v at 12a50 hours
L1 120v at 8a77 hours
DC fast charging (80%)56 minutes
U.S.-spec Subaru Solterra charging time

All-wheel drive specialist

Subaru Solterra side profile
The Solterra benefits from Subaru’s advancements in all-wheel drive and control and Toyota’s vehicle electrification technologies. Image Source: Subaru

With Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system, the Solterra should be capable of tackling snow, mud, and gravel with ease. While it’s not a rock-crawler, don’t take it for a high-riding wagon, for it’s a Subaru. It features the dual-function X-Mode system of ICE Subaru models that allows the driver to adapt the vehicle’s components for specific driving conditions like snow/dirt and deep snow/mud. There’s also a newly developed Grip Control, which consists of Hill Ascent and Descent Assist, to refine the SUV’s rough road performance.

There will be quick acceleration response, obviously. Not only that, our long-cultivated AWD capability will be further enhanced by precise, highly-responsive electric motors, which will lead to an increase in Subaru’s strengths such as stability, driving dynamics, and handling.

Tomomi Nakamura, President and CEO of Subaru (STEP 2.0 Mid-Term Management Vision Progress Briefing)
Subaru Solterra wheel
The Subaru Solterra features conventionally designed alloy wheels in 18- and 20-inch size options. Image Source: Subaru

Partnership justified

In June 2019, Toyota and Subaru agreed to develop a C-segment BEV SUV for sale with their own badges. Subaru borrowed Toyota’s technical resources for the Solterra instead of indigenously developing it because it wanted to keep the investment and risk low. Tomomi Nakamura, Representative Director, President, and CEO, Subaru, had said this in an interview with autonews.com. Concurring that the new electric SUV is a compliance car to adhere to California’s emission regulation, he suggested that the project was driven as much by the law as by the market demand.

Having sold a wide range of hybrid EVs for years now and a few pure EVs recently, Toyota possesses expertise in electrification that Subaru lacks. While Toyota may have a higher contribution to the platform’s development due to its better know-how regarding electrification, Subaru has leveraged its strengths in areas like all-wheel drive and control.

There are still some uncertainties about how fast the market for electric vehicles will grow, how far the cost of batteries will come down, and so on. Under these circumstances, we believe there is an opportunity in efficiently using our relatively limited resources as an automobile manufacturer in model development by switching from in-house development to joint development.

Subaru reasoning its decision for a joint BEV development during the Q2 FY2020 analyst briefing Q&A session

Features

Key features of the Solterra are similar to those of the bZ4X, but it doesn’t get all of the Toyota model’s equipment. The Solterra is Subaru’s first vehicle to feature fully automatic parking. Other key features of the brand’s first EV include a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, digital key, heat pump-type AC, X-Mode AWD control system, and Grip Control. Like the bZ4X, the Solterra has a shift-by-wire system with a dial-type gear selector and will be available with a solar, but it won’t be available with a steer-by-wire system.

Trims

The 2023 Subaru Solterra is available in the U.S. in three trims: Premium, Limited, and Touring.

Premium

The Premium trim comes with exterior features like LED headlights, windshield wiper de-icer, heated ORVMs, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/60 R18 tires, etc. Interior highlights include a 7-inch LCD instrument cluster, automatic climate control with S-FLOW, heated front seats, and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. A wireless phone charger is available as an accessory.

Subaru Solterra Connect (SSC) offers connected services like cloud-based navigation and Remote Climate Control and Remote Lock/Unlocking via smartphone. These services come with a free trial subscription. On the safety front, Premium includes Blind-Spot Monitor; Rear Camera Detection with Pedestrian Warning; and Parking Support Brake.

Limited

The Limited trim upgrades to 20-inch wheels paired with 235/50R all-season tires and adds many features like a split roof spoiler, LED fog lights, power tailgate with automatic close and height memory, rain-sensing wiper system, and roof rails. Inside, it adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel, wireless smartphone charger, and 12.3-inch high-res touchscreen infotainment system, and a free one-year subscription to a cloud-based navigation system.

The Solterra Limited is the first-ever Subaru in which a 360-degree camera system is available. Advanced Park enables automated parallel/perpendicular parking in the Limited trim. Plus, Parking Support Brake includes Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. Lastly, a digital key is also part of the standard features.

Touring

The Touring trim adds a digital IRVM, LED footwell lighting (front and rear), HomeLink, front-seat ventilation, and two-tone paint options.

Subaru Solterra media impressions

According to Motor1.com’s review, the Subaru Solterra’s electric powertrain delivers ample power on highways to keep up with the traffic flow. There’s enough power in reserve for overtaking as well. What might disappoint customers is that the Soleterra’s drive modes only alter the throttle response—the steering and brake feel don’t change.

The Solterra also comes with Dual Function X-Mode and a new low-speed cruise control-like function christened Grip Control. Grip Control auto-adjusts speed while driving off-road and comes with three settings; Low, Medium, and High. With 8.3 inches of ground clearance, the Solterra can easily reach the far end of the trails. Active Cornering Assist and Vehicle Stability Control are standard.

Car and Driver says that customers can switch off stability control completely, after which the EV is happy to drift around on low-grip surfaces. CNET‘s review suggests that the Solterra doesn’t deliver the outright performance like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It could have been more fun to drive if the electric motors were tuned for more power and torque. However, the Solterra makes up for this by outperforming rivals off the beaten path thanks to its more rugged demeanor.

Subaru Solterra production

The Solterra’s production takes place alongside the bZ4X at the Toyota Motomachi Plant in Japan.

One would think that the joint development with Toyota, plus the Toyota plant-based production would ensure the Solterra’s reliability. Unlike Subaru, Toyota is among the top 3 reliable brands in the U.S., as per a recent Consumer Reports study. Moreover, Toyota has already developed and is making several partially electrified (hybrid and plugin) cars that are impressive in the reliability aspect. The bZ4X and Solterra twins could be such high-quality products eventually, but initially, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Recall

The Solterra has faced an embarrassing recall already. On June 23, 2022, Subaru announced in Japan that the hub bolts used on the Solterra may loosen due to repeated sharp turns or sudden braking, which could cause abnormal noise, and in the worst case, detach the tire. The company recalled 10 units with chassis numbers falling between XEAM10-0001021 and XEAM10-0001051 and 82 units with chassis numbers in the YEAM15-0001032-YEAM15-0001190 range in Japan.

The same day, there was a 2023 Subaru Solterra recall announcement in the U.S. as well. According to the Defect Information Report Toyota filed with NHTSA, this recall has affected 403 U.S.-spec Subaru Solterra units and 258 U.S.-spec Toyota bZ4X units manufactured between March 30, 2022, and June 3, 2022.

Toyota first received a field technical report from Taiwan indicating the separation of the front left wheel. Then, there were two similar incidents in the U.S., one indicating loose hub bolts of the front left wheel and the other indicating the front left wheel getting detached from the vehicle.

On September 9, 2022, Subaru announced a new recall for the Solterra in Japan. It said that the control program for the EV’s Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is inappropriate. Depending on the deviation of the neutral position of the steering wheel angle sensor, the correction of the steering wheel’s steering angle while the function is in use may be insufficient. The company said that it will modify the control program to fix this issue.

On October 6, 2022, Subaru announced yet another recall campaign for the Solterra in Japan, this time regarding the curtain airbags that are integrated into the A-pillar. Below is what Subaru said (translated):

Some curtain shield airbags do not have deployment assistance straps assembled in the proper position due to inappropriate work at vehicle plants. Therefore, the airbag cannot be deployed normally when activated, and in the worst case, the occupant may be injured.

Subaru on October 6, 2022 (translated)

Subaru plans to inspect the assembly status of straps and curtain shield airbag deployment aids and correct any inappropriate ones.

Resumption

The day Subaru announced the second recall in Japan, Toyota announced in the U.S. that it wants to start offering a solution for the affected customer units of the bZ4X by November 2022. The company said that it will fit newly designed hub bolts with washers for free. Automotive News had reported that production of both bZ4X and Solterra has resumed, although it didn’t mention if it includes U.S.-bound units.

Subaru Solterra U.S. launch

A person familiar with the developments at Subaru has told Torque News that display units of the Solterra were supposed to reach dealers in August or September 2022, but they are facing a delay. Dealers haven’t received a new timeline for the arrival of display units, and there is no update on the customer cars.

Subaru has priced the 2023 Solterra from USD 44,995 plus a USD 1,225 destination and delivery charge. The destination and delivery charge is USD 1,375 in Alaska, and it could vary in Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

TrimMSRP
Solterra PremiumUSD 44,995
Solterra LimitedUSD 48,495
Solterra TouringUSD 51,995
Subaru Solterra prices in the U.S. (Does not include destination and delivery charge)

Subaru offers five color options for the 2023 Solterra, along with a two-tone color scheme option for four of them:

ColorPaint ChargeTwo-tone Paint Charge
Harbor Mist Gray PearlUSD 395USD 890
Elemental Red PearlUSD 395USD 890
Cosmic White PearlUSD 395USD 890
Galactic BlackUSD 0Not Available
Smoked CarbonUSD 0USD 495
Subaru Solterra colors in the U.S.

Subaru has partnered with EVgo, the largest public fast-charging network in the U.S. to provide Subaru customers access to over 46,000 charging locations across all 50 states. The EVgo network has 800 public fast-charging locations and over 1,200 Level 2 fast chargers in the United States.

Scarce availability

The order book for the 2023 Subaru Solterra has been closed owing to overwhelming demand. The reservations opened on February 8, 2022, in the U.S, across all 50 states, and the EV was sold out within 72 hours, as confirmed by Subaru of America. Reservation opportunities for the 2023 Soletrra are no longer open.

Hanover (Massachusetts)-based dealer Planet Subaru expects the availability to be scarce, and it could be that each American dealer gets one or two Solterras per month throughout this year. Solterra Forum user markkmcgough has already made a reservation for the Solterra in advance, and the dealership has suggested the same constraints for Canadians.

Subaru Solterra STI

Subaru Solterra STI concept front three quarters
The Subaru Solterra STI Concept tries to stand out with a body kit and special wheels. Image Source: Subaru

At the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon held in January, the Subaru booth hosted a surprise debut – the Subaru Solterra STI Concept. As the suffix indicates, this is a concept of the potential performance version of the Subaru electric car. The Solterra STI Concept features a special light blue color, red underbody spoilers on all four sides, a body-colored vertical blade in the side air inlets, gloss black alloy wheels with red highlight, and a gloss black roof spoiler featuring the STI logo on the sides. Subaru hasn’t revealed the technical details or confirmed a Solterra STI launch yet.

TopElectricSUV says

The Solterra was supposed to be a big step forward for the company as it began its journey into electric vehicles. However, the issue with the loose wheel bolts has thrown a spanner in the works. This is a temporary setback for Subaru and its plans to grow in the U.S. market.

The recall and postponement in delivery commencement may have perturbed the confidence of customers, some of whom should be considering switching to the 2023 VW ID.4, which is significantly cheaper, or the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is now the second best-selling electric SUV in America.

Subaru Electric Car FAQs

What is the Subaru Electric Car release date?

Subaru has announced that the Solterra will likely go on sale in the U.S. in fall 2022.

What will be the Subaru Electric car price?

Subaru has priced the Solterra from USD 46,220 to compete with offerings from VW, Hyundai, Kia & Nissan.

Which electric SUVs will the Subaru Solterra compete with?

Featured Image Source: Subaru