2024 Subaru Solterra review: Australian first drive

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This is our first go at Subaru’s first go at an electric car. Does the 2024 Subaru Solterra add anything notable to Australia’s burgeoning electric vehicle market?

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What we love
  • Feels nice inside, well-built
  • Surprising off-road ability
  • Comfy ride quality
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What we don’t
  • Coarse-chip road noise
  • Low second-row seat base
  • Efficiency off the mark

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2024 Subaru Solterra

After a smattering of delays, Subaru is finally ready to launch its first electric vehicle. But, if you somehow recognise its fresh face, you’re not going crazy. The 2024 Subaru Solterra might look familiar because it’s built on the same electric underpinnings employed by the Toyota BZ4X and Lexus RZ.

It also might look familiar because it’s remarkably similar, under the skin, to the Toyota BZ4X. But, Subaru’s trying to forge its own path with the Solterra. It’s a medium-sized SUV with an off-road lean, and the car comes packed with Subaru’s renowned safety boasts.

The Subaru Solterra’s Australian debut comes curiously close to Toyota’s BZ4X launch, so do these two cars cancel each other out, or is the Subaru the car that propels the Japanese brand into a new era? We attended the model’s launch on the Gold Coast to find out.

How much is a Subaru Solterra?

From here on in I’ll try and keep the Toyota BZ4X references to a minimum, but one area in which the Subaru Solterra is different is the fact the car comes only in all-wheel drive.

There are two distinct Subaru Solterra model grades: the eponymous Solterra AWD or the more expensive Solterra AWD Touring flagship variant. These two cars cost $69,990 and $76,990 (both before on-road costs) respectively.

Interestingly, the brand cut $6700 and $8000 from those two prices just before the model’s launch in February 2024. No firm reason was given for the significant price cut, but it’s a welcome drop given the model competes with the Tesla Model Y.

The Tesla Model Y is not only incredibly popular in the electric SUV segment, but it’s also $4590 less expensive than the Subaru’s tip-in point.

However, compared to an all-wheel-drive Model Y, the Subaru Solterra is the more affordable car.

Standard fare on the most affordable Solterra includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, 7.0-inch digital cluster, heated seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and advanced safety technology.

However, the Subaru Solterra Touring AWD adds bigger 20-inch wheels, a glass roof, synthetic leather upholstery, Harman Kardon audio, wireless phone charging, optional two-tone colouring, and semi-autonomous parking.

Common to both variants is a 71.4kWh battery that is said to offer up to 414km of driving range. As is normal for a Subaru, the Solterra is all-wheel drive – thanks to a pair of 80kW motors mounted at the front and rear axles.

Combined power outputs total 160kW and 337Nm. Importantly, the Solterra has a max DC fast-charge rate of 150kW. This is said to deliver a 30-minute charge from 10–80 per cent capacity.

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The car we spent a majority of time in, and which this review focuses on, is the flagship Subaru Solterra AWD Touring variant. It costs $83,115 drive-away based on delivery in Melbourne.

Key details 2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
Price $76,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Dark Blue Mica
Options None
Price as tested $76,990 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $83,115 (Melbourne)
Rivals Toyota BZ4X | Tesla Model Y | Kia EV6

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How big is a Subaru Solterra?

As futuristic as the Solterra looks on the outside, it’s not quite as wild inside the cabin with regard to design and themes.

However, there are some interesting points such as the high-set instrument cluster, and a wrap-around line across the top of the dash. Plus, also note the squared-off steering wheel which isn’t a common shape.

To use, it’s a little weird to get to grips with. It’s simple enough to twirl the steering wheel into a tight parking spot, but it’s a low-set position that takes time to get used to.

Even though I’m a tall 194cm, I usually fit nicely in most cars – but I found my legs were floating in the air while in the driver’s seat. This was largely due to the dead pedal being oddly shallow in the foot well.

There’s also minimal space side to side because the Solterra has a wide centre console. The centre console stocks all the storage basics such as a lidded bin, two cupholders, a wireless phone charger under a lid, and an under-console storage cubby for larger items.

I wish there were a few more storage slots for keys or wallets near the gear selector, because the wireless phone charger seems unnecessarily large. Do note, the Subaru Solterra has no glovebox.

Materials used throughout the space feel nice – the dashboard is covered in a hard-wearing fabric and most surfaces have soft-touch panels. It feels particularly well built – no flexing of panels, no creaking of plastics, and minimal rattles while on the move.

Second-row occupants will immediately notice a low seat base that forces knees high into the air. Though there’s a sizeable amount of leg room behind my own driving position, it’s an uncomfortable sensation to have your legs flinging about as the car goes through corners. Shorter occupants will fare better.

At the rearmost, the Solterra’s power-opening boot paves way to a 410-litre space. That’s not especially large by medium-size SUV standards, but the seats do fold in 60/40 fashion to afford extra space. It is not as commodious as Subaru’s similarly sized Forester, which is rated at 498L.

There are also tie-down points and a cargo blind to protect items from prying eyes.

Under the boot floor is a tyre repair kit for emergencies and a small spot to stow the included AC home-charger.

2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
Seats Five
Boot volume 410L seats up
Length 4690mm
Width 1860mm
Height 1650mm
Wheelbase 2850mm

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Does the Subaru Solterra have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

The Solterra’s infotainment is accessed through a 12.3-inch floating display that handles the lion’s share of the car’s controls and settings. This screen size is competitive with rivals such as the 12.3-inch-equipped Kia EV6.

However, the brand hasn’t shied away from physical buttons and switches for air conditioning and certain vehicle functions. In fact, there’s a plethora of buttons to come to terms with around the centre console and steering wheel.

Of course, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present for the buyers who prefer that familiarity, but I’ve found the integrated software is easy to get your head around. Included are AM/FM radio, satellite navigation, and digital radio.

The software is pinched directly from Toyota – it’s the same styling, maps, layout, and buttons. It is easy to navigate between systems because there are hard-coded icons for functions like audio, maps, settings, and phone connectivity.

There’s only one USB-A connection in the front row, but two USB-C ports and a single 12V port.

The Subaru Solterra gets no smartphone companion app to control things like the air conditioning, maps, and charge information. But it does have a climate button on the car’s key to switch on that system before you get in the car.

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Is the Subaru Solterra a safe car?

The Subaru Solterra is five-star ANCAP safety rated based on Euro NCAP testing completed in 2022. This matches its identical twin, the Toyota BZ4X.

Breaking down the Solterra’s individual scores, it achieved 88 per cent for adult occupant protection, 88 per cent for child occupant protection, 79 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 93 per cent for its safety assistance systems.

2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
ANCAP rating Five stars (tested 2022)
Safety report Link to ANCAP report

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What safety technology does the Subaru Solterra have?

Subarus are renowned for their safety equipment – passive and active – and the Solterra comes packed with the things you expect at its price point. These are listed in detail in the table below. In addition to the below, the Solterra also gets tyre pressure monitoring and a one-pedal driving mode.

On the launch we had the chance to sample adaptive cruise control, which kept appropriate distances to the car ahead, and the lane-centring software that steers the car within lane markings.

Subarus continue to have some of the most insistent driver attention monitoring systems that alert the driver whenever it detects averted gazes out the side window or at the infotainment system. While it did detect my errant gazes out the window, thankfully the system didn’t falsely alert like some do when the driver wears sunglasses.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) Yes Includes cyclist, junction, night-time awareness
Adaptive Cruise Control Yes Includes traffic jam assist
Blind Spot Alert Yes Monitoring only
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert Yes Alert and AEB backover functions
Lane Assistance Yes Lane-departure alert, lane-keep assist, lane-centring assist
Road Sign Recognition Yes Includes speed limiter
Driver Attention Warning Yes Camera-based with distraction and drowsiness monitoring
Cameras & Sensors Yes Front and rear sensors, 360-degree camera

How much does the Subaru Solterra cost to run?

Subaru’s Solterra comes to market with a free five-year servicing plan. This means buyers will pay no additional costs for each of the first five visits. By comparison, the Toyota BZ4X costs $180 each visit. Kia’s EV6 costs $1382 over five years.

Subaru recommends these take place at 12-month or 15,000km intervals, whichever is reached first.

Each Subaru in Australia is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while the high-voltage battery itself is covered for up to eight years or 160,000km.

The Subaru Solterra specifically gets a five-year roadside assistance program plus membership to one of Australia’s state motoring clubs (NRMA, RACV, RACQ, etc).

A comprehensive insurance quote from a leading retailer came out to $2249 per year for the Subaru Solterra AWD (entry-level). As a point of comparison, the Kia EV6 GT-Line – a car that costs about $10,000 more – costs $2323 per annum. The entry-level Tesla Model Y RWD is quoted at $2151 per annum.

Estimates are based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Battery warranty Eight years / 160,000km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs Complimentary (5 years)

What is the range of a Subaru Solterra?

The Subaru’s 71.4kWh battery is said to power the car for up to 485km based on the lenient NEDC testing cycle, or 414km in WLTP testing. In practice, we saw about 405km to a 100 per cent charge with air conditioning and infotainment systems in action.

Subaru claims the car will do 14.1kWh per 100 kilometres, which is about what you’d expect from an electric vehicle of its size. However, I was not able to match that number on test. In reality I saw figures nearer 20kWh/100km on the initial launch drive.

Tesla’s Model Y RWD is claimed to use 13.7kWh/100km on a combined cycle. In real-world testing of the Model Y we’ve recorded figures close to the claim – 14.2kWh/100km.

Considering much of the drive was on country roads away from traffic and low-speed suburban streets, my 20kWh/100km figure shouldn’t really be relied upon. The car’s energy consumption will likely come down as it’s able to recuperate a bit more of its energy around suburbia.

In terms of charging, the Solterra can charge at a maximum rate of 150kW DC, meaning a zero-to-80 per cent charge is expected to take 30 minutes.

At-home charging will take substantially longer – roughly 35 hours from zero to 100 per cent charge according to a 2kW max rate.

Buyers can purchase home wallbox charging solutions directly from Subaru.

Energy efficiency 2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
Energy cons. (claimed) 14.1kWh/100km
Energy cons. (on test) 20.0kWh/100km
Battery size 71.4kWh
Driving range claim (WLTP) 414km
Charge time (11kW) 6h 30min (0–100%)
Charge time (50kW) 1h 38min (0–100%)
Charge time (150kW max rate) 30min (claimed 10–80%)

What is the Subaru Solterra like to drive?

A key boast that has always been integral to Subarus around the world – but particularly in Australia – is the integration of symmetrical all-wheel drive. It’s a system that the Solterra subscribes to fully, with an 80kW motor mounted on each axle for a combined power output of 160kW.

Put into practice, the 160kW/337Nm combined outputs don’t provide the same giddy, overwhelming sensation in the same way as other electric vehicles. In saying that, the instantaneous acceleration is very handy for quick overtakes and for zipping up to the speed limit – it’s just not the same gut-wrenching feeling you get in alternatives such as the Tesla Model Y.

But the aim of Subaru’s game isn’t speed – this is first and foremost a comfortable and quiet electric vehicle, which the brand even positions as somewhat of a soft off-roader.

At launch, media was provided the opportunity to pilot the Solterra up a short but tricky gravel trail that included undulations, ruts, and slippery gravel. With 212mm of ground clearance, the Solterra’s ride height isn’t far off what you get in dual-cab utes such as the Ford Ranger XLT’s 234mm clearance, but slightly less than the 220mm of a Forester.

The plucky Solterra fared remarkably well – there were no real instances of the car striking its underside over tricky angles, and the car’s two X-Modes ensure the traction is sent to appropriate wheels that have traction. The X-Mode also contains a Grip Control feature that works to hold a consistent (but changeable) speed over tough off-road sections so that the driver can focus solely on steering inputs.

I found that as long as pedal inputs were smooth and steady, the Solterra has decent off-road chops without the possibility of getting stuck. It’s also fitted with big plastic cladding around the wheel arches to prevent stone chips.

Now, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing an electric vehicle tackle the Oodnadatta Track, but it’s a neat little difference to other EVs in the market.

But, back on the bitumen, the Subaru Solterra’s ride quality and control were some of its highlights. Though it’s a heavy 2060kg tare weight (in top-spec Touring guise), the body control is well managed through bends and it’s not easily thrown off-line by bumps.

There were some instances of the car outrunning its grip levels when you push on through corners, though the stability-control systems rein in any slippage quickly. There’s a nice weighty steering feel which is equally nice to steer the car with, but easy enough to manoeuvre the car into parking spots.

The suspension is absorbent and compliant over varying speeds and road imperfections. However, there’s undue road noise over coarse-chip road surfaces at high speeds.

The two front seats offer a comfortable, plush seat base, but there’s minimal shoulder support to prevent taller drivers from leaning one way or another through successive corners. This likely wouldn’t be such an issue for the average-sized adult, but we’ll find out for sure once we get the car through for a week-long regular review.

Key details 2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Touring
Engine Dual electric motors
Power 160kW combined
Torque 337Nm combined
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Single-speed
Power-to-weight ratio 77.7kW/t
Weight (tare) 2060kg
Spare tyre type Tyre repair kit
Tow rating 750kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.2m

Can a Subaru Solterra tow?

The Subaru Solterra is rated to tow 750kg as a maximum – whether the trailer is braked or not. Subscribing to the 10 per cent rule for maximum tow ball down weight, the Subaru must not exceed 75kg.

The Solterra’s gross vehicle mass (GVM) is rated at 2550kg. Taking the top-spec’s 2060 tare weight from the GVM, that only leaves 490kg for payload.

Should I buy a Subaru Solterra?

Our first drive of Subaru’s debut EV reveals the Solterra to be a fine addition to the Australian electric vehicle market. It’s comfy (albeit slightly tight for taller occupants) in both rows, exhibits a plush ride quality, and contains all the practicalities buyers expect from a medium-sized SUV.

The fact that it’s off-road-friendly is also quite unique in the electric vehicle space. It’s unlikely to be found out in the middle of nowhere doing tough trails, but buyers can have confidence that the Solterra offers steadfast traction off-road and can even tackle some decent undulations and ruts.

The elephant in the room is the Subaru Solterra’s price – at over $80K on the road for the top spec, you can buy a lot of other, proven electric vehicles. And then there’s the Toyota BZ4X, which is near identical but comes in more affordable for all-wheel-drive versions.

We look forward to testing the new Subaru Solterra against its contemporaries throughout the year, but the value equation might be a barrier to entry for someone looking hard at the bottom line.

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How do I buy a Subaru Solterra? The next steps.

The car I spent the most amount of time in at launch was the top-spec Touring AWD grade, but I’d argue the buying is better at the entry level. It loses out on some equipment such as big wheels, a sunroof, and leather upholstery, but the basics all feel adequate already.

Subaru says it already has a good volume of pre-orders and suggests a “reasonable level of supply” to see it out to the end of 2024. It expects the top-spec Touring AWD to be the better seller.

Ordered from a dealership, wait times are expected to be within three months depending on colour and spec.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since we tested it, you’ll find all the latest Solterra news here.

Ratings Breakdown

2024 Subaru Solterra AWD Wagon

7.4/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

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Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned journalists got the better end of the deal. With tenures at CarAdvice, Wheels Media, and now Drive, Tom’s breadth of experience and industry knowledge informs a strong opinion on all things automotive. At Drive, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories.

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