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In-depth reviews

Subaru Solterra review

Subaru’s first electric car is a well-rounded family SUV that’s good to drive, but doesn’t match the practicality or range of the best in this class

Subaru Solterra driving front
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • All-wheel drive as standard
  • Good to drive
  • Infotainment and cabin

Cons

  • Rivals offer more boot space
  • Average range and charging speeds
  • Not very efficient in winter

Range

Wallbox charge timeRapid charge time
257-289 miles11hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)28mins (10-80%, 150kW)

Subaru Solterra verdict

The Subaru Solterra is the very first electric car to come from Subaru, and while this Japanese brand is renowned for its off-roaders and rally cars, this electric family SUV is by far one of its more sensible offerings. 

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Sharing much of its DNA with the Toyota bZ4X, the Solterra offers some impressive tech and is even rather good to drive. Of course, being a Subaru, four-wheel drive comes as standard, too. There are a number of rivals that offer more in the way of practicality, though, and the sub 300-mile battery range isn’t exactly class-leading. Subaru’s EV debut is a respectable one, but at over £52,000 it certainly isn’t a bargain buy.

Details, specs and alternatives

It took Subaru a while to join the party, but the company is now another one of the many car makers with an electric SUV in its range. You’d have been forgiven for experiencing some déjà vu when the Subaru Solterra first arrived in showrooms in July 2022, though, as it’s almost identical inside and out to the Toyota bZ4X electric family SUV. The only major difference between the two are visual touches like different badges, redesigned rear lights, a tweaked front grille panel and some black cladding around the wheel arches.

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But, as the brand likes to point out, this is not a bait-and-switch, badge-engineering job. Subaru helped to develop the two cars’ underpinnings (also being used by the Lexus RZ) and their specific off-road settings. The X-Mode system controls the motors and brakes to deliver optimum traction on difficult terrain such as deep mud, snow or even steep, slippery slopes, according to Subaru.

The Solterra also distinguishes itself from the bZ4X by featuring permanent all-wheel drive as standard – as is the Subaru way – though it is an option on the Toyota and there are similar dual-motor versions of all this car's highly accomplished rivals, including the Tesla Model Y, Skoda Enyaq, Nissan Ariya, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

A number of the Solterra’s rivals also manage to break the 300-mile barrier when it comes to battery range, but the Subaru only manages a maximum of 289 miles from its sole 71.4kWh pack. The peak 150kW DC rapid-charging speed isn’t exactly groundbreaking on paper, either, but it does mean that the Solterra can be topped-up from 10-80% in just 28 minutes. 

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Subaru has kept things very simple in terms of configuration. Only two trim levels are available and there aren’t any optional extras beyond the paint finishes. Entry-level Limited spec starts from around £52,500 and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, a power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, that 360-degree parking camera, a digital rear-view mirror and a heat pump to more efficiently warm the battery. The car is also compatible with the ‘Subaru Car App’ that lets you check the amount of remaining charge, remotely lock the car and even find the car when parked.

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Upgrading to Touring trim adds faux-leather upholstery, 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a Harman/Kardon sound system, wireless smartphone charging and an electric passenger seat. This spec does result in a reduced battery range, though, along with a £3,000 premium over the Limited variant.

Even in its most affordable guise, the Subaru Solterra can look pretty pricey against some of its main rivals. Entry-level versions of other electric family SUVs like the Nissan Ariya, Kia EV6 and Skoda Enyaq all undercut the Subaru by quite a hefty margin – and, if you don’t need the all-wheel drive system, a front-wheel drive Toyota bZ4X is cheaper like-for-like, too. 

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It might not be as quirky as Subarus of old, but the Japanese brand’s successes still come from a determination to do things differently to everyone else. In the case of the Solterra, that’s fitting all-wheel drive as standard along with logical and easy to use controls. These are then combined with great on-board tech, performance and driving dynamics. However, it simply isn’t as practical or efficient as some of its key rivals, of which many are cheaper to buy.

Range, battery size & charging

ModelRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge
Solterra Limited289 miles12hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)28mins (10-80%, 150kW)
Solterra Touring257 miles12hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)28mins (10-80%, 150kW)

The 71.4kWh battery is the only one offered in the Subaru Solterra, and this is good for 289 miles on the WLTP combined cycle in base Limited-trim cars. Touring-spec models see this figure drop to 257 miles, which is a result of increased rolling resistance from their larger 20-inch wheels. In comparison, entry-level versions of the Tesla Model Y and Skoda Enyaq officially offer between 249 and 283 miles of range. 

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Achieving the Soltera’s official figures could prove challenging in the real world as our Solterra Touring test car was significantly affected by cold weather during our time with it. We only managed to achieve an average of 2.5 miles per kWh, which translates to around 178 miles of range. Of course, the warmer months should see this number improve slightly, but it’s doubtful that the Solterra would be able to recover the full 79-mile difference between to the WLTP range.

The Solterra’s rapid charging capabilities don’t set it apart, either, topping out at a relatively average 150kW. Filling up from 10-80% using a charging point capable of that speed will take around half an hour, while a 7.4kW home wallbox will need nearly 12 hours to fully replenish the battery.  

Running costs & insurance

Nobody is about to describe the Subaru Solterra as a cheap car, as even the entry-level Limited trim will set you back by around £52,500. If you want the better-equipped Touring trim, you’ll be looking at a minimum of £3,000 on top of that. To put this price into context, an entry-level Skoda Enyaq costs around £39,000, and even the Solterra’s own sibling, the Toyota bZ4X, kicks off from under £43,000.

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There aren’t any massive savings to be had when it comes to insurance, either. The Solterra Limited sits in insurance group 38, but this only rises to group 39 for the Touring. In comparison, the Skoda Enyaq line-up starts in group 24. However, the Subaru’s premiums won’t be as pricey as the base Tesla Model Y, as this resides in group 46.

As with all electric cars, there are some savings to be had with taxes and running costs. Until 2025, company car users can enjoy the attractive 2% Benefit-in-Kind tax rate, while all owners can benefit from zero VED road tax. The Solterra avoids emissions-based charges, too. 

Fully-charging the Solterra’s 77.4kWh battery at home will set you back around £23 at a typical rate of 30p per kWh. As always, using a public charger (particularly a rapid one) will push this price much higher. 

Performance, motor & drive

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
6.9s100mphFour215bhp

We have to take our hats off to Subaru for finding a great middle ground between capable handling and a settled ride with the two-tonne Solterra SUV. In typical day-to-day driving, the car remains composed over imperfections in the road and occupants are well insulated from any major upsets. Road noise is kept well under control, too, which makes longer journeys a pleasant experience.

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Come face-to-face with some corners and you’ll find body roll is kept to a minimum, while the Solterra’s steering is light enough to make manoeuvring around town easy. It still has a nice weight to it, though, and even provides a reasonable level of feedback. 

As well as all-wheel drive traction, the Solterra’s two electric motors produce a combined total of 215bhp and 336Nm of torque; enough for 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds.

Power delivery is smooth from the dual-motor powertrain, and we have no reason to doubt the claimed 6.9-second 0-62mph time. When it’s time to slow down, the brakes feel reassuring, and the transition between the regenerative and physical braking is incredibly smooth. The level of brake regeneration can be adjusted at any time via steering wheel-mounted paddles. Engage the strongest setting and the Subaru comes close to one-pedal driving, although it doesn’t bring the car to a complete stop.

Interior, dashboard & infotainment

The Subaru Solterra’s cabin is dominated by a huge 12.3-inch central touchscreen, and thankfully it’s great. The display itself is bright and clear, and the menus are clearly laid out, and the system responds and loads quickly. All versions of the Solterra come with wireless Apple CarPlay, but you’ll need a cable to use Android Auto

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The seven-inch instrument panel on the other hand, while still clear and crisp, isn’t such a highlight. Like Peugeot’s similarly divisive i-Cockpit setup, the dials are mounted above the wheel, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Shorter drivers, for example, might find that the wheel blocks part of the screen – as we experienced first hand during testing. 

Subaru has stuck with good old-fashioned buttons and physical controls for many of the Solterra’s functions, most noticeably on the steering wheel. The climate controls are operated via both physical and touch switches, and these are straightforward enough to operate. The Subaru’s setup is certainly a lot less frustrating than those that rely almost entirely on a touchscreen, such as the systems found in the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.

The layout of the button-laden centre console ensures key functions are within reach, but it also prevents the cabin from feeling as airy or spacious as the Nissan Ariya or Hyundai Ioniq 5. We can't fault the quality, though, as the plastics feel sturdy while the dashboard fabrics help to create a more premium feel.

Boot space, seating & practicality

Hop into the back of the Solterra and you’re greeted with loads of kneeroom. Headroom is a little tight, but the rear seats can recline which taller passengers might find handy. However the lack of leg support for them can’t be fixed as the high floor forces your thighs off the squab. At least passengers can keep their devices charged up with a pair of USB-C sockets.

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The Solterra’s boot is a decent size (452 litres for entry-level Limited models; 441 litres in top-spec Touring versions) but significantly smaller than a Skoda Enyaq or Tesla Model Y’s. While you do get some under-floor storage in the Solterra, which gives you somewhere to keep the charging cables when you’re not using them), the Subaru doesn’t have a ‘frunk’ compartment under the bonnet.

Reliability & safety rating

Subaru’s petrol-powered cars are no strangers to the upper reaches of our Driver Power rankings, and we don’t see why the less mechanically complex Solterra should cause any major gripes. 

Subaru itself is a firm favourite, too, and scored a very respectable fourth place out of 32 brands in our 2023 best manufacturer rankings. Customers are very pleased with the brand’s reliability, safety and practicality, and Subaru even managed to outshine Toyota, which only managed a 12th place finish.

Safety shouldn’t be a concern either thanks to the Solterra’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. This score is partly thanks to Subaru’s standard-fit Sense package, which includes radar cruise control, emergency steering assist, lane departure alert, lane tracing assist, blind spot Monitoring, road sign assist, rear cross traffic alert and safe exit assist.

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