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Subaru Solterra electric SUV bows with Toyota bones and funky looks

Set to go on sale sometime in 2022, Subaru's first EV has been revealed at the LA Auto Show.

The Subaru Solterra is the Japanese automaker’s first fully electric vehicle, and the compact crossover SUV is a joint venture between Toyota, who sells this same EV under the BZ4X moniker. (We’re super glad Subaru went with an actual word for a name, even if it’s made up.) The Solterra made its official debut in Japan last week, but Subaru pulled the wraps off the North American version on Wednesday at the 2021 LA Auto Show, confirming many of the EV’s US specs.

Mechanically, you won’t find much difference between Subaru’s Solterra and its Toyota-badged cousin. Subaru said it was responsible for tuning the all-wheel-drive system, which will be standard on US-spec Solterras. In other countries, the Solterra will be available with a single-motor, front-wheel-drive configuration that won’t be available in the US.

The Solterra is powered by a 71.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack and two electric motors, producing 215 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Subaru estimates a driving range of about 220 miles, which isn’t bad but also isn’t great. The company also says the Solterra is capable of DC fast-charging and while Subaru has yet to confirm US-spec details, the global variant can accept charging speeds up to 150 kW, allowing the battery to reach 80% capacity in under an hour.

The Solterra has 8.3 inches of ground clearance and is equipped with its X-Mode all-wheel-drive tech. X-Mode incorporates a function called grip control, which is sort of like low-speed off-road cruise control with hill ascent and descent assist.

Subaru packed the Solterra with a bunch of active safety tech, including pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Solterra also gets Subaru’s new Safety Exit Alert, an increasingly common feature that warns occupants if they’re going to open the doors into an obstacle or pedestrian when parallel parked.

No steering yoke here as on the Toyota BZ4X, thank goodness.

Jessica Walker/Subaru

Inside, the Solterra looks like its Japanese counterpart, with a sloped center console hiding a wireless charging pad and a storage area underneath. Like the BZ4X, the Solterra has a digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch touchscreen running a new infotainment system (probably designed by Toyota) that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thankfully, the Solterra has a traditional round steering wheel, not a yoke like the Chinese-spec Toyota BZ4X. And to give you an idea of its size, Subaru says the Solterra has 126 cubic feet of total passenger and cargo volume, which is slightly more than the Forester SUV.

Moving outside, the Solterra definitely looks like a Subaru. There’s lots of gray cladding and the crossover is arguably the right amount of ugly, although we actually think it looks kind of awkward-cute in person. You’ll have to see it for yourself. Look for the new Solterra to hit US Subaru dealers sometime next year.

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