Subaru Solterra or Tesla Model Y? Choosing the Right Electric SUV for You

Hey there! So you‘re trying to decide between the exciting new 2023 Subaru Solterra electric SUV and the buzzworthy Tesla Model Y? As an EV enthusiast, I‘ve analyzed every detail of these two compelling models to help you determine which best fits your lifestyle and budget. Buckle up as we dive into all you need to know across 10 key categories!


First, let‘s briefly summarize what each vehicle brings to the table:

2023 Subaru Solterra

  • Subaru‘s first fully electric SUV
  • Available Spring 2023
  • $45,000 starting price
  • 228 mile range
  • AWD performance optimized for all-weather traction
  • Generous ground clearance for off-road adventures

2020 Tesla Model Y

  • Tesla‘s high-performance electric crossover
  • On sale since 2020
  • $55,000+ starting price
  • 330 mile range on Long Range trim
  • Rapid acceleration with 425 hp engines
  • Cutting-edge technology and giant touchscreen

Head to Head Comparison

Subaru SolterraTesla Model Y
Drive Range228 miles330 miles
0-60 mph6.5 sec3.5 sec
Cargo Volume63 cu ft76 cu ft
Ground Clearance8.3 inches6.6 inches
Base Price$45,000$55,000

Now let‘s examine how they stack up across 10 key categories to determine the best fit based on your needs…

Performance and Handling

Those longing for sports car acceleration will be wowed by the Model Y, reaching 60 mph in under 4 seconds thanks to its 425 horsepower engines. Steering feels precise and suspension composed at speed. The Solterra‘s 6.5 second 0-60 mph time delivers good power for everyday driving but can‘t match Tesla‘s neck-snapping punch. Through corners, the 4,400 pound Solterra leans more than the nimbler Model Y.

Tesla Model Y wins for pure performance, Solterra handles capably for an SUV

Off-road Ability

With 8.3 inches of ground clearance and stability enhancing tech like Grip Control, the Solterra out-flexes the Model Y for traversing rocky, muddy or deeply rutted terrain. Short front and rear overhangs enable it to climb steeper inclines or clear bumps without scraping. Large approach and departure angles also allow tackling tougher obstacles. While the AWD Model Y offers decent snow and gravel prowess, its low ride height limits rugged adventuring.

Solterra built to go beyond tarmac, Model Y best saved for gravel and snow

Interior Space and Storage

The Tesla Model Y takes top honors for comfortably seating five or seven passengers thanks to smart packaging and available third row. Rear seats flip down to create up to 76 cubic feet of storage – enough room for bulky bikes, gear and luggage when car camping or road tripping. The exclusively 5-seater Solterra serves most buyers‘ needs but its 64 cubic foot capacity falls slightly short of the Model Y‘s vast hold.

Tesla Model Y rules if you need max passenger/cargo flexibility

Cargo Capacity Comparison

5 Seats Filled2 Seats Filled
Subaru Solterra16 cu ft64 cu ft
Tesla Model Y34 cu ft76 cu ft

Battery Range

For road trippers or commuters racking up high mileage, the Tesla Model Y Long Range provides confidence to roam farther from home with an EPA-rated 330 mile range. The standard Solterra packs a 71 kWh battery providing a useful though shorter 228 mile maximum range. All wheel drive and large battery capacity limit both models to under 125 mph charging at public DC fast charging stations.

Model Y offers more miles per charge, but Solterra range meets most needs

Design and Styling

The Model Y channels Tesla‘s signature sleek and slippery aerodynamic shape reducing wind resistance for improved range. Lines flow smoothly from front to rear while a large glass roof brightens the minimalist cabin. The traditionally boxy Solterra projects a more rugged personality courtesy of its raised stance, chunky body cladding and adventure-ready vibe. Which look you prefer comes down to personal taste!

Model Y – sleeker; Solterra – tough

Technology, Media and Connectivity

Tesla vehicles have earned renown for their giant touchscreens, high-tech interfaces and over-the-air software update capability. The Model Y‘s sprawling 15-inch display oversees navigation, entertainment, climate and driving data. Its crisply rendered HD maps coordinate trips, while access to streaming media and games keep occupants happy. Lacking complex engine systems, reading vital signs like battery health becomes straightforward via apps.

While the Solterra‘s dual touchscreens mark a tech step up for Subaru, it can‘t compete on flash or breadth of features. But user-friendly interfaces, natural voice commands and standard Apple Carplay/Android Auto make living with it easy. Savvy smart device integration helps the Solterra close the wide tech gap somewhat. Still Tesla sets the bar when it comes to high-IQ transportation.

Tesla rules the tech game while Subaru impresses with its first touchscreen setup

Safety Tech and Crash Protection

Reassuringly both automakers crammed the Solterra and Model Y full of protective driver assistance technology. Lane keeping aids, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts and reverse auto braking come standard. Sophisticated collision detection systems warn drivers of obstacles and can automatically brake to mitigate accidents. Sentry Mode and Driver Monitoring raise the Model Y‘s vigilance even further.

Eight airbags, crash absorbing structures and strong chassis designs provide last line defenses. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety awarded both vehicles coveted 2022 Top Safety Pick honors following rigorous testing. Owners can rest easy knowing they and their precious cargo gain guardians on the road.

Tesla and Subaru ace safety – built to responsibly protect

Environmental Impact

Going electric inherently fosters sustainability by eliminating tailpipe emissions. But assessing total ecoscore requires analyzing full lifecycle impacts from materials and manufacturing too. Subaru took the extra step of utilizing recycled metals, plastics and upholstery fabrics throughout the Solterra‘s construction to lower its carbon footprint. The Japanese automaker even aims to achieve 100% renewable energy usage across the production process by 2050.

While Tesla‘s materials sourcing and battery ecology still require supply chain improvement, the Model Y‘s vastly superior 324 Wh/mi energy efficiency over the Solterra‘s 404 Wh/mi pays back huge dividends in carbon savings over hundreds of thousands of miles. Driving a Model Y proves far greener long term.

Tesla Model Y cleaner long run but Subaru wins on sustainable construction

Cost of Ownership

Sticker prices reveal just part of overall ownership costs. Factoring purchase price, incentives, charging needs, insurance, maintenance and resale value greatly impacts total expenditure over a vehicle‘s life. Let‘s break down the dollars.

Purchase Price

The Solterra notably undercuts the Model Y to start – $45,000 versus $55,000 before any discounts or credits. Because both vehicles qualify for the full $7,500 federal tax credit, the Solterra‘s value advantage persists. Leasing could further reduce payments by 20-30%.

Fuel and Charging Costs

Going electric saves huge money by avoiding gas station fill-ups. Electricity prices around $0.15 per kWh equate to ~$0.04 per mile driven for both the Model Y and Solterra. Over 100,000 miles that equals ~$15,000 in fuel savings over a comparable gas-powered SUV averaging 25 mpg. The Solterra‘s shorter range helps lower total charging costs slightly.

Maintenance and Repairs

EVs generally require less routine maintenance thanks to far fewer mechanical parts – no oil changes, spark plug replacements or engine air filters to worry about. Tesla estimates Model Y owners save up to $4,300 over 150,000 miles compared to a gas SUV. Anecdotal evidence suggests minimal Solterra maintenance as well. Both come with comprehensive warranties too – 4 years/60,000 miles for the Solterra and 4 years/50,000 miles on the Model Y.


Insurance will cost more for these pricier SUVs over economy models, with Tesla historically commanding higher premiums. Expect to budget $1500+ annually. Registration/excise tax may be lower than gas vehicles in some states.

Resale Value

Forward thinking EVs like Teslas and Subarus tend to hold value very well. Additional battery capacity degradation concerns could ding Tesla more over time however. The Solterra‘s lower initial cost may help buoy stronger residual values on the used market. Ultimately resale projections remain hazy this early in both vehicle life cycles.

The Solterra‘s sub-$45k entry point combined with good projected reliability makes it the value efficiency winner

The Verdict

So there you have it – a fully rounded side-by-side comparison of the exciting new Subaru Solterra and benchmark Tesla Model Y electric SUVs. Choosing between these impressive yet differing EVs ultimately hinges on your priorities.

Performance hungry drivers will flock to the Model Y for its sports car rivalling speeds. Or if you yearn for the latest vehicle tech like giant touchscreens and autonomous driving aids, Tesla is the prime plug-in pioneer.

But families and outdoor enthusiasts focused on value will find the Solterra most compelling. Subaru checks the core SUV boxes with ample utility space plus off-road talents. An attractive price tag further sweetens the deal. While the Model Y extends range and technology boundaries, practical buyers get 95% of the functionality at 60% of the cost with the no-nonsense Solterra.

I hope this detailed electric SUV showdown has brought clarity to your purchase decision. Let me know if any other questions come to mind! Whatever you select, going electric promises a smoother, quieter and more sustainable ride.

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