The Earth-Friendly Off-Road Subaru

The 2024 all-electric Subaru Solterra, introduced in 2023, has received upgrades to its charging speed and charging efficiency in cold and hot temperatures as well as driving range (for the lowest trim level due to its smaller tires). In a very hot EV market, improvements each model year are crucial to staying competitive. But this EV’s most important attribute may be that it’s a Subaru.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Getting better every year

Dual Motors, AWD Standard

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
No frunk here

The 2024 Solterra has two 80kW electric motors with 228 miles of driving range in the Premium trim and 222 miles in Limited and Touring (last year’s range estimate). The combined 215 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque drive the symmetrical all-wheel drive that includes the latest generation of X-Mode, which increases grip and traction in icy, sloppy and off-road conditions, and also includes hill ascent and descent control. When Clean Fleet Report tested the all-new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness, we put X-Mode through its paces in some pretty rough terrain.

Charging

There are three charging rate options for the 72.8 kWh lithium-ion battery. The slowest is by a standard 120V household plug that delivers a full charge in about 50 hours. Most owners will opt to install a 240V Level 2 charger at their home that will replenish the battery 10-percent to 100-percent in about nine hours.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Faster charging this year

For faster charging, owners can use a public DC Fast Charger that will take the Solterra to 80-percent charge in 35 minutes.

It is important to note cold weather can affect charging times and driving range. The Solterra comes standard with a battery heater to warm the battery for a faster charge in temperatures as low as -22 degrees.

Charging is also through powerful motor regeneration that when coasting or braking converts kinetic energy into electric energy and returns it to the battery. The regeneration can be set to three levels with steering wheel paddles, and made it possible to do most driving without relying on the brakes.

For even more peace of mind, on those occasions where a long road trip is planned, original owners get 10 free days of a Subaru gasoline-powered vehicle.

Off-Road Prowess

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Classic Subaru off-road ability–enhanced

Subaru feels the “Solterra in some ways is our most capable all-wheel drive vehicle.” Utilizing the off-road driving systems of X-Mode, Grip Control, Dirt drive mode, downhill assist and hill start assist, the StarDrive all-electric drivetrain knows the opportune time to engage the front and rear motors, making for an assured off-road driving experience. With 8.3-inches of ground clearance the Solterra can safely handle dirt and gravel roads with ease and confidence, but is not meant for rock crawling. The Solterra can tow up-to 4,000 pounds when properly outfitted with Subaru parts and accessories.

The beauty of the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is, when stopped on a trail due to deep ruts, the instant torque at any speed delivers a smooth escape. There was never a time where we were concerned the 4,486-pound Solterra would not get us out of a challenging situation.

Back on the Pavement

Since most driving will be on paved surfaces for commuting, grocery-getting and other errands, the Solterra first-and-foremost needs to have good road manners. Since it’s all-wheel drive all-the-time, the grip is enhanced even on a dry, smooth roadway. The Solterra shines in town and on the open road, with acceleration more than adequate (0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds) for entering freeways and passing big rigs. The smooth operation is what makes driving an electric vehicle so wonderful. We were impressed with the 3.7 miles per kWh.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Storage to take it all along (including a roof tent?)

The three drive modes—Normal (default), Eco and Sport—controlled by a button on the center console next to the shift-by-wire rotary shift knob, are self-explanatory of their function. When in X-Mode, the default is Normal.

Handling was solid with a low center of gravity as the batteries are placed under the floor, leading to near 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. The 18-inch Bridgestone Touranza all-season tires are standard on the Premium (giving it an extra five miles of range), compared to the 20-inch tires on the Limited and Touring. MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear make up the four-wheel independent suspension, with Active Cornering Assist, traction and vehicle stability control.

Stopping is through power-assisted ventilated front and rear disc, anti-lock brakes with brake assist.

Off-Road Ready Exterior

Visually, the 8.3-inches of ground clearance provides a good ride height that is complimented by front fender brush guard cladding providing protection when going off-road or encountering a wayward shopping cart. Cladding is also found to a more normal degree over the rear wheels and across the lower rear fascia. The front, side and rear overhangs are short, giving the Solterra a wide-looking stance.

The sleek aerodynamic roof rails can accommodate up-to 700 pounds when parked, 176 pounds when moving, so a three-person tent is a go. The rear hatch has an interesting dual-wing top spoiler with a more conventional lip spoiler at the bottom of the steeply sloped glass. The dual-wing design eliminates the need for a wiper on the power lift gate window as the air flow blows-off debris and water.

Narrow LED multi-beam headlights and LED running lights sweep back on the fenders, with LED fog lights in the lower fascia. LED tail lights have a ‘C’ shape connecting the fenders to the lift gate. Along with active grille shutters, spending time in the wind tunnel paid off as the air flow is directed around, over and under in such a way to get the coefficient of drag (Cd) to a low 0.28.

Airy, Rugged Interior

The thin A pillars, sloping hood and tall windows provide excellent forward and side visibility from a cabin with ample head and leg room. The front seats are supportive, and are covered in StarTex, a lightweight synthetic material that prevents moisture from soaking into the seats, which is more durable than cloth or leather. New for 2024, the Solterra has what Subaru calls a “squircular” steering wheel shape. Squared top-and-bottom, the hefty wheel felt good and was comfortable to turn. Plus, the square top made it easier see the driver information display sitting high atop the dash.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Let’s get squircular

The diver gets a ventilated seat with 10-way power adjustments, including lumbar and memory, while the passenger has 8-way power adjustments. The carpeted floor mats were a nice touch, but for the Solterra and its off-road use, all-weather floor liners (a $185 accessory item) would have been easier to clean after a muddy, sandy or dusty day.

The ambient interior lighting was a nice touch as was the hill start assist and auto hold, power door locks and one-touch power windows all the way around. The rear seat can hold three adults (two comfortably) with ample leg and head room. Outboard rear passengers get reclining, heated seats, HVAC vents and USB-C ports.

Solterra owners will likely take advantage of the 60:40 second row split seat that, when folded flat, increases the cargo space from 23.8 cubic feet to 63.5 cubic feet. Access to the cargo area is through a power lift gate with a low load height. The optional, fixed-glass moonroof has a power shade that opens the cabin to the great outdoors.

The multimedia system comes standard with a 12.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen. The Touring model comes with a Harmon Kardon 576-watt audio system with 11 speakers, navigation, AM/FM/SiriusXM radio with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB-A and C ports and wireless phone charging are standard.

Channel and volume knobs would have been nice. We didn’t miss not having a head-up display as the 7-inch LCD gauge cluster sits high enough to keep the driver’s eyes on the road. The chime when shifting into reverse became annoying and made me not want to go backwards.

Safety and Convenience

The 2024 Solterra comes with active and passive advanced driver assist systems (ADAS), including multiple airbags, adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking and throttle management, pedestrian detection and rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning. This video explains the EyeSight driver assist technology.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Tech for safety and infotainment included

Safety features include blind spot monitoring with lane change assist and a 360-degree camera. The Safety Exit Alert came in handy a couple times with an audible and visual warning as we were opening a door, alerting that a cyclist was approaching from the rear.

Convenience features include automatic climate control, digital rear-view mirror camera with Homelink, push button start/stop, remote keyless entry, electric power steering, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth control switches, heated exterior power mirrors, rain sensing wipers and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2024 Solterra a 5 Star overall safety rating.

Pricing and Warranties

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
Room in back

The Solterra has three trim levels—Premium, Limited and Touring—with these base prices, including the $1,345 delivery and destination fee. The Solterra may qualify for federal and state tax credits that may affect your final price, so speak with your CPA before heading into your local Subaru dealer. It also may qualify for HOV stickers.

  • Premium $46,340
  • Limited   $49,840
  • Touring   $53,340

The 2024 Solterra comes with these warranties.

  • Basic – Three years/36,000 miles
  • Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Battery – Eight years/100,000 miles

Observations: 2024 Subaru Solterra EV

The 2024 Subaru Solterra EV was co-developed by Subaru and Toyota. There are several reasons why major car companies would get together to jointly build a car with the upside being efficiencies in the design, manufacturing capability, technology strengths and development costs being just a few. The risk, though, is whatever is decided upon, each company’s final vehicle may be too close to the other’s. On the surface it may appear the all-electric 2024 Subaru Solterra and the Toyota BZ4X and Lexus RZ are the same, but that is not the case at all as each has their own raison d’être.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV
It’s Subaru where it matters

Clean Fleet Report was clearly told—“It had to be a genuine Subaru,” which meant Subaru handled the AWD, suspension and chassis development as the Solterra needed to retain Subaru’s light-duty off-road cred and DNA. Translation: the on and off-road capabilities would not be compromised, but be as good for in-town errands and commuting as on long road trips and off-road adventures. Subaru says they are targeting the Solterra towards a younger, active buyer, which will certainly include many who have never considered a Subaru.

So how will the Subaru faithful take to the Solterra EV? It has the size to fit 4-5 adults and haul their gear, including the roof top tent, plus it is ideal for strapping-in a couple of child seats and chauffeuring the little ones to school. The ride is smooth, the seats comfortable, and the interior spacious. There are two shortcomings: the range is low and should be a minimum of 50 more all-electric miles; and it does not have full one-pedal driving, where the Solterra could be brought to full stop using regenerative braking.

For those who drive long distances into the wilderness, it may not meet their needs as the all-electric range could be an issue. However, if those people get a full charge before heading out into the wilds and choose their route carefully, they should have no issues getting back to civilization as a 222+ mile range should be adequate to meet most back country adventures.

Clean Fleet Report expects Subaru faithful will welcome the Solterra into the family.

Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.

Story and photos by John Faulkner.

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

The post Road Test: 2024 Subaru Solterra Touring EV first appeared on Clean Fleet Report.



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