In Japan You Can Buy a 2023 Subaru Solterra With AWD or a 300+ Mile Range–But Not Both

It’s finally here: the long-awaited Subaru EV. We will get a peek at the 2023 Subaru Solterra at the LA Auto Show on November 17th. In the meantime, Subaru publishes a specification sheet for the Japanese-market car. It revealed that each 2023 Solterra would ride on one of two Subaru drivetrains with very different capabilities.

FWD Subaru SolterraAWD Subaru Solterra
DrivetrainSingle front axle electric motorDual, front and rear axle electric motors
Battery71.4 kWh Lithium-ion battery71.4 kWh Lithium-ion battery
Weight4,250 pounds4,450 pounds
Range330 miles285 miles
OptionsSunroofSunroof, 20-inch rims

The AWD 2023 Subaru Solterra

This is the solar-powered 2023 Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru Youtube Channel
2023 Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru Youtube Channel

Subaru was one of the first automakers to offer affordable all-wheel-drive (AWD). Legendary Subaru AWD won the Japanese manufacturer the hearts of people in snowy places the world over. So when the automaker announced a Subaru battery electric vehicle (BEV), it promised to bring its legendary AWD abilities to this new market.

The 2023 Subaru Solterra AWD does not disappoint. This crossover SUV features a dual-motor drive system. One electric motor at the front of the vehicle powers the front wheels. Another electric motor at the rear powers the back wheels. The automaker claims both engines make 107 horsepower, and they can draw maximum power from the battery simultaneously.

The AWD Solterra will be the preferred Subaru EV for people who live in poor road conditions or enjoy offroading. But electric motors are not light. It weighs 4,450 pounds. That is more than some Subaru Ascents. Its dual motors also eat through its battery life. Subaru predicts the AWD Solterra’s range will be 285 miles.

The FWD 2023 Subaru Solterra

This is a still from the 2023 Subaru Solterra unveiling. | Subaru Youtube Channel
2023 Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru Youtube Channel

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Subarus have become prized for their engineering and comfort. Many modern Subarus rarely leave the pavement. These owners may not consider a heavy AWD Solterra with a short range ideal. For this reason, Subaru also developed a front-wheel-drive (FWD) Solterra.

The FWD 2023 Subaru Solterra only has one electric motor. This motor drives the front axle. Because it’s the car’s only motor, it can draw much more power from the battery. Therefore, Subaru rates the FWD Solterra’s engine at 200 horsepower. For comparison, a 2021 Subaru Forester with an internal combustion engine only makes 182 horsepower.

The single-engine Solterra will be 200 pounds lighter than its dual-engine counterpart. Firstly, this will likely improve handling and braking. Secondly, it will certainly improve range. The 4,240-pound FWD Solterra will likely achieve a 330-mile range. This alone may make it the better option for many Subaru EV buyers.

What’s the right Subaru EV for you?

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In some ways, the FWD Subaru Solterra and the RWD Subaru Solterra will be completely different cars. The single-engine FWD Subaru may have a longer range than the Mustang Mach E and the Chevy Bolt. As a result, this car will cost less to maintain and use up less power. The dual-engine AWD Subaru will be capable in any conditions, on-road or off. Electric 4x4s will be better on the trail, and the AWD 2023 Subaru Solterra will soon lead the charge.