2024 Subaru Solterra Touring review by Ben Lewis

In the world of automakers, Subaru is a smaller one, which means it sometimes pairs up with other manufacturers to help create vehicles at a more affordable cost. It has worked great for the brand, teaming up with Toyota, they have now created two generations of the BRZ sports car, (aka Toyota GR86) that are a complete delight to drive.

While the marketplace seems to be adding new EV’s weekly, Subaru – along with many of the Japanese automakers – have been slow to market. And EV’s are expensive and time-consuming to create. Which meant it was a perfect time for another collaborative project with Toyota. Enter the Solterra (aka Toyota bZ4x), the brand’s first electric vehicle.

For those wondering, the name Solterra was created using the Latin words for “Sun” and “Earth” to represent Subaru’s commitment to deliver traditional SUV capabilities in an environmentally responsible package.   

So, does this new model keep the Subaru vibe we love, while adding the choice of a full-on electric vehicle? Let’s find out!

Bold, Sporty Design

First impressions are strong with the Solterra. And we were surprised that although the styling is subtlety different from the Toyota bZ4x, we actually liked it a bit better.

Up front you’ll see a change with Subaru’s hexagonal grille, slender LED headlights, vertical side gills and projector beam fog lights poking out of the lower fascia. Compared to the slightly slabbier Toyota nose, we like the Solterra more.

The profile is again similar, but different. The sideview feels very Toyota-ish, with the origami-crisp style lines that remind us of the Lexus NX – no problem here, these are handsome modern vehicles. One area where the Subie stands apart are the matte-finish fender flares that give a more cohesive look than the Toyota’s glossy versions. Both vehicles roll on handsome 20-inch alloys, but we also like the Solterra’s silver finish that gives a bit more visual pop.

At the rear, the design is simple, and echoes the front, with slender horseshoe-shaped LED taillights and a contrasting black lower fascia. The Solterra adds a tasteful lip spoiler below the rear window for a sporty vibe. Finishing off the look was our tester’s Harbor Mist Gray Pearl two-tone that looked elegant and upscale.

Futuristic, Fun and Friendly

Inside, the Solterra is a near-twin to the Toyota, and to be honest it feels very Toyota-like inside.

Open the door, and interior looks wide and open, and the two-tone gray and blue Star Tex (faux leather) looks modern and wouldn’t feel out of place in a Volvo.  Adding to the cheerfulness was out Touring tester’s standard Panorama roof. Unfortunately for those of us who like fresh air, it’s fixed, and doesn’t even tilt for a little fresh air. Still nice to get the light, though.

Pop into those comfortable front seats, and you’re greeted by the new-design gauge package that sits high in the dash – you actually are looking above the steering wheel rim to see it.

It takes a little getting used to – the gauges give a head-up display feel, and make you feel like you’re hunkered down in a sporty car, rather than a tall SUV. For 2024, the Solterra makes a small change that yields a large result, replacing the rounded steering wheel that’s squared off on the bottom and the top. It not only feeds your Formula 1 fantasies, the squared off bottom gives added legroom. It’s a win-win!

Info-tainment is up to date in the Toyota way, with a large horizontal 12.3-inch, hi-res touchscreen, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a big, beautiful screen, and we like the touchpad below for the climate controls, so you don’t have to fish them out of a series of screens. While we prefer a traditional volume knob, Subaru at least gives you a volume control below the screen, as well as an easily-operated switch on the steering wheel.

Like the Toyota, it’s an advanced system, with Over-the-Air updates, Cloud Navigation and Intelligent Assistant – just say “hey Subaru” and you can search for directions, adjust audio controls, change cabin temps and more. Very cool.  

Adding to that futuristic vibe, below the info-tainment screen is a large knob that you push down and rotate to select gears, while buttons flanking the knob include switches for drive mode, 360º parking view, off-road X-Mode, one-pedal driving and more. Clear and handy.

Storage is spacious, thanks to a floating bridge design center console, that includes wireless charging up front, additional storage below, and a large center storage bin. The only downside is no traditional glove box on the passenger side, so you might not be able to fit wider items in any covered storage.

While we prefer the driver’s seat, those in back will find comfortable, adult-friendly rear seats, with plenty of cargo space, even with the rear seats up. The rear seats also fold easily to create a very large cargo space – no small thing considering that the battery takes up a fair amount of room in an EV.

Subaru Sporty Driving

One of the things that really made us love the Solterra was the fun driving experience.

Power for the Solterra comes from dual electric motors – one on each axle – serving up 215 horsepower and 249 lb.-ft of torque. That torque comes on instantly, and that makes the electric Subaru have sparkling acceleration, with 0-60 coming up in mid 6 seconds, but the quietness and instant torque makes it feel quicker than that.

Handling is equally fun, with great steering feel, plenty of grip from those large 20-inch tires, along with standard Active Cornering Assist and Vehicle Stability Control for better on-road stability and handling.

You’re also set up for bad weather and some light off-roading with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD is optional on the Toyota) and best-in-class 8.3-inch ground clearance.  Helping to get you where you’re going, you have Dual-Function X-MODE® with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes with Grip Control and Downhill Assist Control for enhanced performance in low-grip and off-road conditions. Thanks to that tall stance, the ride is extremely smooth and comfortable.

So, all is good and well. The only fly in the ointment for some might be the Solterra’s charging range. At 222 miles max, it’s just on the border of being a little on the short side.

Subaru seems to be aware of it, though, and for 2024, charging speed has been improved, letting the Solterra replenish its battery from 10% to 80% in as little as 35. Those in chillier climes will appreciate the 2024 Solterra can charge in colder temperatures significantly faster t – up to 80 minutes faster – than its predecessor.

There’s more added tech for 2024 – with all-new Subaru EyeSight® advanced driver-assistance features, including Hands-Free Driving that lets the Solterra to travel in its lane at speeds up to 25 mph with only driver supervision, including stop-and-go traffic. The 2024 Solterra can also change lanes on command with Active Lane Change Assist, along with the addition of Front Cross-Traffic Alert. That’s on top of an already impressive suite of driver assist features.

What’s the Charge?

Like we noted in our recent test of the Kia EV9, electric vehicles are not cheap, and not all get state and federal discounts. But they do have a lot going for them. You can get into a Solterra starting at $44,995. For a very attractive vehicle, with AWD capability, loads of safety tech, and smart enhancements for 2024, it’s a very attractive package.

Our Touring was the top-of-the-line model and starts at an equally reasonable $51,995. Add in Harbor Mist Gray Pearl ($890) and $1,345 for Destination, and we rang the bell at $53,340. Spec out a comparable Toyota bZ4X and you’ll come in at $52,665.

We’d also look at the Hyundai Ioniq 5, at $55,875. The Ioniq has greater range, and a unique style all its own, but if you’re looking for all-weather, or light off-roading, the Subaru is the clear choice. We also like the similar Kia EV6 at $58,975, it’s got great range and power, and with AWD it’s more capable – but it’s also $5,500 more comparably equipped.

Great style, comfort, Subie goodness and important upgrades, the 2024 Subaru Solterra is an EV that will thrill Subaru fans – and EV fans, too!

 

Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.

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