Automotive Journalist Kazuo Shimizu drives Subaru's first all-electric SUV, Solterra, on the Bifuka Proving Ground at Subaru's Research and Development Center in Hokkaido, the northernmost proving ground in Japan. How well did the 2023 Subaru Solterra all-electric SUV handle the snowy conditions? You might be surprised.
1. Save the environment with an all-electric carbon-free model. "It's our responsibility to pass the baton to future generations." To better live in harmony with the environment. All car brands have the same zero emissions goal for their EVs, but what sets the all-electric Solterra apart from the competition?
2. Daisuke Ono says the Solterra has to perform like its gas-powered models despite being all-electric. "We wanted it to be practical for everyday use," says Ono. What does that mean for new EV buyers?
Subaru's core values are all-wheel-drive, all-weather performance, fun-to-drive, top crash scores, and vehicles with a low center of gravity for improved driving dynamics. The Solterra has three, and the EV is yet to be tested by the IIHS for crashworthiness. We suspect it will get the highest scores.
Subaru says the Solterra has a 20 percent greater torsional rigidity than the Forester. Crashworthiness is about 20 percent stronger than a conventional vehicle against front and rear impact and performs twice as well against side impacts.
3. "We didn't set out to build an EV. Our goal was to build a new car, and electrification was simply a logical means to our end." The Japanese automaker built a vehicle in that customers can enjoy expressing themselves.
4. Ono says the Solterra was designed for extraordinary use in extreme conditions like deep snow and icy conditions without limitations. Front and rear electric motors drive the all-wheel-drive system, producing about 80kW of power for each wheel. "We felt it was necessary to enhance all-wheel control and rough road capability," says Ono.
The battery-protecting design increases body rigidity and improves drivability
The center of gravity of the Solterra is approximately 90 mm (3.5-inches) lower than the Forester. The low center of gravity creates unique driving dynamics with improved road control. The SUV's height and ground clearance (8.3-inches) is about the same as the Forester and Outback (8.7-inches).
X-Mode allows the driver to drive at a constant speed on snow or rough surfaces
Grip control is a new function added to X -Mode's snow/dirt mode. It's like super slow-speed cruise control and has five settings controlled by a toggle switch. It's best used on steep, slippery hills. Ono says inexperienced drivers will feel safe in the new Solterra EV on the most challenging road surfaces.
Check out the 2023 Subaru Solterra deep snow test drive. You decide if it passed or failed and give it a grade.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: Subaru