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Improvement: The 2024 Subaru Solterra Touring

2024 Subaru Solterra Touring front 3/4 view

Automotive journalists, myself included (maybe me especially) have been pretty tough on the Subaru Solterra and its near-twin, the Toyota bZ4X.

2024 Subaru Solterra rear 3/4 view

In our defense, I'll say that we come by it honestly. We drive nearly everything (in my case, 104 cars a year), usually for a week at a time, which gives us a basis for comparison that the casual shopper, limited by 10-minute test drives at the dealership, doesn't have. The Solterra and bZ4X had to follow the toughest acts imaginable---the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6. And they didn't measure up in metrics like interior quality, power, range and charging times. In my review of the bZ4X, I openly speculated that Toyota, which did most of the work here, didn't want to do any better than this, a theory supported by then-CEO Akio Toyoda's public skepticism of EVs and his company's deep investment in hybrids and hydrogen. If it failed, it failed. And maybe it wouldn't---both Toyota and Subaru have die-hard loyalists who will only buy each company's cars. The bZ4X and Solterra might be the only EVs those folks would consider, so comparisons would be irrelevant.

The good news is that improvements are being made. This Solterra seemed much more solid and quiet than the '23 model I drove for half an hour at the 2022 Western Automotive Journalists Media Days. It's very pleasant to drive.

2024 Subaru Solterra EV charging port

2024 Subaru Solterra hood up

For 2024, the Subaru Solterra's DC fast-charging rate has been improved. Going from 10-80% used to take an hour--that's down to 35 minutes now, thanks to improved battery management software and the addition of a more powerful battery heater.

Cold-weather charging, as far down as 22 below zero Fahrenheit, is now quicker.

All of that, of course, assumes properly-working DC fast chargers that are delivering near their promised peak. And as regular readers know, that is becoming increasingly rare.

Electrify America Howard Street San Francisco

Electrify America Howard Street San Francisco

Electrify America Howard Street San Francisco

I picked up the Solterra from Page One Automotive in San Francisco. I was in the Bay Area for another automotive event on the day they were scheduled to bring the car to me. The next day, I needed to recharge before the drive home to Folsom (108 miles), so I chose Electrify America's new indoor charging station on Howard Street.

EA took an old automotive garage, spiffed it up, installed twenty 350kW DC fast chargers and built bathrooms, drinking fountains, lounges with vending machines and a private conference room so you can have a Zoom meeting while waiting for your car to charge.

2024 Subaru Solterra charging

2024 Subaru Solterra charging

2024 Subaru Solterra charging

But even in this "flagship" (EA's term) facility, which is staffed 24-7, the chargers underdelivered. The peak I observed on these 350kW chargers was a Rivian that peaked at 111kW. A VW ID.4 was second at 48. The rest of us were at 40 or below---some as low as 27. My final result, charging from 50% to 83% (remember, 10-80% should now be 35 minutes):

Max charging speed 40kW, on a charger capable of 350. Total charging time 38 minutes. Not the car's fault, but likely to irritate anyone who would think that if 10-80% is 35 minutes, 50-80 should be half that, not three minutes longer.

When I shared that on social media, some friends who are much more knowledgeable about the physics of EV charging than I suggested that I might have actually charged too soon---that the chargers respond with more juice if you start at a lower state of charge.

So, after getting back to Folsom, I took the Solterra to my nearby EA 350kW station with a charge of 16%, and got an alarming forecast from the car itself:

The end result, thankfully, was better than that:

Still, a peak of 61kW and a time of 50 minutes for 16-80% falls pretty short of 10-80% in 35 minutes. There was a guy in a Hyundai IONIQ 5 at the charger next to me. That car's famously able to charge from 10-80% in 18 minutes. I personally have seen a 222kW peak charging speed with one. He was getting 47.

And again---to be clear---NOT the Solterra's (or the IONIQ 5's) fault. We are being let down by under-performing charging infrastructure.

2024 Subaru Sotlerra "Touring EV" badge

2024 Subaru Solterra "Symmetrical AWD" badge

2024 Subaru Solterra rear liftgate open

2024 Subaru Solterra cargo area

There's 29 cubic feet of cargo area behind the rear seats. Fold those down and you've got 75.7.

Rear seat legroom is solid, if not exceptional, at 35.3 inches.

2024 Subaru Solterra front seats

2024 Subaru Solterra instrument panel

There are three trim levels of Solterra---Premium, Limited and Touring.

Subaru has made EyeSight active safety features standard on all trim levels, giving all Solterras in active cruise control the ability to have hands-free driving up to 25 mph, to resume driving when the vehicle in front accelerates from a stop, and assisting lane changes when the turn signal is activated and the intended lane is clear. There's also Front Cross Traffic Alert, making it easier and safer to enter busy intersections. DriverFocus distraction mitigation is standard on all trim levels---sensing when a driver's eyes are off the road.

Our test vehicle was the Touring. Base price, including destination, $53,340. It's all wheel drive and range is EPA-estimated at 222 miles.

There's a lengthy list of standard equipment at that price: Three selectable driving modes, automatic climate control, dark tint privacy glass, heated seats, exterior mirrors and steering wheel, windshield wiper de-icer, 10-way power driver's seat with two-way power lumbar support and memory, an eight-way power front passenger seat, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto a Harman Kardon 576-watt premium audio system with 11 speakers, 20-inch aluminum wheels, ambient interior lighting, advanced parking assist, digital key, a digital rearview mirror, LED fog lights, LED footwell lighting, a panoramic fixed glass roof with power sunshade, a panoramic view monitor, power rear liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, a retractable luggage cover, satin chrome plated interior trim, wireless charging and ventilated front seats.

2024 Subaru Solterra door panel

2024 Subaru Solterra steering wheel and instrument pod

The instrument pod is still a bizarre design, but Subaru switched steering wheels. They call it "squircular". The flatter top actually makes the pod readable. With a round steering wheel, which the Toyota bZ4X still uses, some part of it is usually blocked.

2024 Subaru Solterra instrument pod

Both Subaru and Toyota have fixed a glaring error this year---the instrument pod now displays the car's state of charge in percent. In '23, you needed a phone app for that---the pod only showed a fuel-tank style gauge and estimated range remaining.

2024 Subaru Solterra center console

2024 Subaru Solterra center stack

The only extra-cost option on our tester was the Elemental Red Pearl paint ($890), so the bottom line of the window sticker reads $54,230.

2024 Subaru Solterra front view

2024 Subaru Solterra side view

2024 Subaru Solterra rear view

The price is right in the ballpark for loaded electric SUVs these days. I'd argue that the Solterra still isn't entirely competitive with what Hyundai and Kia are doing. But it's encouraging to see useful, relevant second-year improvements in the Solterra. And those buyers that wouldn't consider another brand will see benefits from that.


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