Electric vehicles appeal to environmentally-conscious owners and provide smooth, quiet rides. However, quiet doesn’t mean being powerless or lacking fun. Electric sport utility vehicles can be anything from spacious family cars to adventure companions. While the choice isn’t as broad as it is for conventional or hybrid SUVs, there are options. Here’s how two of the top contenders — Subaru Solterra vs. Tesla Model Y — compare.
Subaru Solterra vs. Tesla Model Y: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Subaru Solterra||Tesla Model Y|
|Year of release||2023||2020|
|Range||Up to 228 miles per charge||Up to 330 miles per charge|
|Acceleration (0 to 60mps)||6.5 seconds||3.5 seconds|
|Drive||Symmetrical AWD||Dual-motor AWD|
|Number of seats||5||Up to 7|
|Self-driving capabilities||Limited||Enhanced auto-pilot|
|Cargo capacity||63.5 cu. ft.||76 cu. ft.|
Subaru Solterra vs. Tesla Model Y: What’s the Difference?
As modern as they seem, electric vehicles have been around for quite some time. The first EV was invented during the 1890s, but the low speed and high cost of these cars led to their decline in popularity. During the 20th century, internal combustion engine vehicles outranked the EVs to the point that they weren’t even part of the picture for years.
The interest in modern, highway-capable electric cars was stirred by Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. The car was first delivered to customers in 2008, and it has since been discontinued. Nevertheless, Tesla remains a pioneer in the modern EV world. Of the four models available today, Tesla Y can be defined as a premium SUV.
Japanese automaker Subaru might be new to the EV game, but it is known for implementing an all-wheel drive standard across most of its lineup. The newly debuted Subaru Solterra is no different; this SUV is designed for uninhibited adventures on all terrain kinds.
Both Subaru Solterra and Tesla Model Y are sport utility vehicles, but there are significant differences in design. Where the Tesla showcases smooth lines reminiscent of the brand’s sedans, the Solterra boasts a more rugged, sportier allure.
The differences in design make each vehicle suitable for different purposes. With a ground clearance of 6.6 inches, Tesla Model Y is the perfect SUV for the city. Nevertheless, its dual-motor all-wheel drive can tackle rougher or slippery terrain without problems.
Despite its generous ground clearance, Tesla Model Y is no match for Subaru Solterra in terms of off-road performance. The Japanese make features a ground clearance of 8.3 inches. Together with short overhangs, it delivers incredible maneuverability over rough terrains.
The interior design is also different between the two cars. Tesla has the upper hand, presenting a streamlined, no-frills look. Model Y’s interior is sleek and minimalist, the vegan leather enhancing the aesthetic appeal.
Solterra comes with either cloth or the automaker’s proprietary StarTex upholstery. The former is a standard cloth upholstery that you can see in thousands of other cars. StarTex is a type of non-leather yet easy-to-maintain upholstery made from a blend of polyurethane and recycled PET material. This option boosts the looks of the interior, but it isn’t quite as appealing as Tesla’s choice. Subaru Solterra’s dash is also more cluttered compared to Tesla’s.
While Solterra promises to rock the EV world, Tesla Model Y is hard to beat in terms of performance. This doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that Elon Musk spent a lot more time perfecting its EVs compared to Subaru.
With a 425-horsepower powertrain, the Model Y is about two times more powerful than Solterra. It can reach top speeds of up to 155 miles per hour and goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Sure, these numbers refer to Model Y Performance, but the numbers don’t change dramatically for the Long Range.
Meanwhile, the Solterra has 215 horsepower and reaches top speeds of only 110 miles per hour. Acceleration is slower, too, with zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds. The difference is noticeable, especially when you need some sprint during a takeover.
A weaker powertrain usually means a longer range, as the motor requires less power. However, Tesla Model Y is proof that you can have both power and a longer operational range in one.
Musk’s SUV has a combined (city/highway) energy efficiency of 122 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe). That is a far cry from Solterra’s combined energy efficiency of 104 MPGe. As a result, Subaru’s electric SUV has an operational range of 228 miles per charge, whereas the Model Y can take you as far as 330 miles per charge.
Subaru Solterra and Tesla Model Y may both be electric SUVs, but driving each car delivers a different experience. Even if you haven’t owned a Tesla before, you’ve likely seen pictures of its futuristic interior. The Model Y comes with a single 15-inch touchscreen that controls pretty much everything inside the vehicle.
There are few knobs and buttons, limited to gear shifting and window and volume control. Everything else can be controlled from the infotainment panel only – a design that gives Tesla’s interior a clean, minimalist appearance. Beyond vehicle and passenger comfort control, the infotainment panel transforms into an entertainment center that you can use for various activities, including streaming Netflix and playing video games.
While these options are not present in Subaru, it should be said that Model Y has full self-driving capabilities on customized models. In such a vehicle, you can sit back and enjoy your favorite movie while the car takes you from point A to point B autonomously.
Subaru Solterra has more buttons alongside an 8-inch or 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, depending on the trim. The infotainment system is Android-based and compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Accessing and using the various apps and functions is as easy as using an Android smartphone. The screen connects to exterior cameras that offer panoramic views of the vehicle when parking or performing certain actions in traffic.
Modern cars are packed with safety systems and features designed to protect everyone in traffic. Things are no different as far as Tesla Model Y and Subaru Solterra are concerned. Both vehicles feature plenty of sensors, cameras, and driver assist functions developed to minimize the risk of hazards.
Designed for safety, according to the automaker, Tesla Model Y features a rigid structure, low center of gravity, and impact protection features. The car achieved NHTSA 5-star safety ratings and the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, making it one of the safest cars you can drive.
Driver assist functions include 360° rear, side, and forward-facing cameras, all controlled through Tesla Vision. This system detects nearby cars and helps avoid collisions. On vehicles featuring full self-driving, the automatic pilot respects all road signs and regulations to take you safely where you need to go. Currently, Texas and Tennessee allow self-driving vehicles on the road without a driver (or without a licensed driver if one is in the car). Other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana, only allow commercial self-driving vehicles.
Subaru Solterra is not a fully self-driving vehicle, but it packs loads of driver-assist functions. The most useful one is EyeSight, a technology developed to monitor traffic movement, warn you when you’re outside of your lane, and optimize cruise control.
The car also includes a panoramic view monitor, blind spot sensors, and other all-around awareness technologies. From a physical standpoint, the new electric vehicle architecture e-Subaru Global Platform features a reinforced structure and strategic crumple zones that enhance crash protection.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
Subaru Solterra and Tesla Model Y have roughly the same size. The latter is slightly longer and wider, but the former is taller. Yet, there is a crucial difference in terms of passenger and cargo capacity between the two.
Once again, Tesla gets the upper hand with two seat configurations and plenty of cargo space. The standard model for both trims (Long Range and Performance) has a 5-passenger capacity. However, the Long Range also comes in a 7-seat configuration. Cargo capacity is generous on both models, with 34.3 cubic feet of volume on the 5-seat Long Range with five passengers and up to 76.2 cubic feet of cargo volume with driver and front passenger (backseats folded).
Subaru Solterra comes in a 5-passenger configuration only, but the cargo capacity is disappointing for a car this size. With five passengers, it has a cargo volume of 15.6 cubic feet, which goes up to 63.5 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. If you have a larger family and want to go on a trip, you’ll have to calculate the amount of luggage wisely.
Costs play a crucial role when buying a car. If you want a performing but affordable SUV, Solterra might be the right choice for you. The entry-level trim has a starting price of $44,995, which can go up to $51,995 for the high-end Solterra Touring. These are factory prices that customizations will drive up. However, you’ll still save compared to the Tesla.
Model Y has a starting price of $54,990 for the standard, 5-seat Long Range. For the Model Y Performance, you can expect to pay around $56,990 without customizations and up to $79,990 for add-ons. On the bright side, both Tesla Model Y and Subaru Solterra are eligible for up to $7,500 tax credit and other incentives that can reduce the costs.
If you can’t afford the vehicle upfront, lease and loan options are available from both Subaru and Tesla or from authorized dealers.
Subaru Solterra vs. Tesla Model Y: 5 Must-Know Facts
- The 2023 Subaru Solterra is the first electric SUV launched by the Japanese automaker. It features all-wheel drive and generous ground clearance.
- Model Y is Tesla’s premium SUV. This vehicle can tackle all terrains, but it is better suited for the city and highway.
- Depending on the trim, the Solterra comes with attractive features, including a fixed glass roof and leather-like seats.
- Tesla Model Y boasts a minimalist but spacious and highly comfortable interior, as well as generous cargo volume.
- Both Subaru Solterra and Tesla Model Y are eligible for tax credit and incentives. This makes both cars more affordable than conventional or hybrid SUVs in the same category.
Subaru Solterra vs. Tesla Model Y: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Get?
Deciding between Subaru Solterra and Tesla Model Y comes down to budget and preference. If budget is of no concern and you want a fully self-driving vehicle, the Model Y is for you. Model Y is also a better option if you need more cargo space than an SUV with elegant lines.
Subaru Solterra is your best bet if you want to save some bucks or need higher ground clearance. This vehicle is perfect for off-road and adventures, but you’ll have to compromise on cargo volume. You won’t get full self-driving either, but the driver assist functions and safety features can give peace of mind to driver and passengers alike.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Yauhen_D/Shutterstock.com.