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2023 Subaru Solterra, Toyota bZ4X: 4 Things We Hope to See From the Toyobaru EVs

toyota bZ4x concept toyota solterra 2022 scaled jpg 2023 Toyota bZ4X; 2023 Subaru Solterra | Manufacturer images; Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

Subaru recently teased us with more images of its upcoming all-electric SUV, the 2023 Solterra, which it calls “the most technologically advanced Subaru ever.” The Solterra is a joint venture with Toyota, similar to the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR 86 (formerly the Toyota 86, née Scion FR-S), and Toyota is currently calling its version the bZ4X. With minimal official information available about either vehicle, we queried our staff to see what they hope these two SUVs might offer.

Related: Subaru Sheds More Light on Upcoming 2023 Solterra All-Electric SUV

Here are four things we’d like to see:

1. Physical Controls

Based on early images of both SUVs, this might be too late, but just because a vehicle is all-electric shouldn’t mean its interior needs to be a high-tech wonderland or something that reinvents the wheel (literally, in Tesla’s case).

Take it from Managing Editor Joe Bruzek.

“​​I had hoped Subaru or Toyota would deliver an EV SUV with a normalized user control system — versus trying to revolutionize climate and multimedia control systems — but that doesn’t appear to be the case with the Solterra’s teaser of what looks like an abundance of touch-sensitive-surfaces,” Bruzek said. “Hopefully Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will display in full width on the [also hopefully] touchscreen. I suppose there’s still hope from Toyota’s alphanumeric soup of an EV.”

He continued: “A normalized control system with mechanical buttons and dials would have made the Solterra stand out in a good way against the Volkswagen ID.4 and it’s overreliance on capacitive-touch controls. Perhaps a normalized EV SUV isn’t something consumers want at the moment, or something automakers can provide at desired price points. It is nice to see signs of a conventional instrument panel, however, compared with a Tesla Model Y.”

Assistant Managing Editor Kelsey Mays feels similarly.

“Too many EVs have abandoned physical controls for touch-sensitive panels or touchscreen submenus,” Mays said. “GM seems to be the lone holdout, with vehicles from the Chevrolet Bolt EUV to the forthcoming Hummer EV maintaining real buttons and knobs. Hey, Toyota and Subaru: Join the resistance.”

2. Ride Comfort, Affordability and Range Over Power

With gobs of instant torque, electric vehicles can be surprisingly quick, but is anyone really trying to race a compact SUV? We’d rather see value and drivability.

“Ride quality like the Volkswagen ID.4 would be appreciated more than the choppy-riding Ford Mustang Mach-E,” Bruzek said.

“A dual-motor system that scorches to 60 mph in under 4 seconds would generate surefire headlines,” Mays added. “But surefire sales are likelier from something that comes reasonably equipped for the low-$30,000s, where a federal tax credit can drop the net total down to the mid-20s, and with at least 250 miles of EPA-rated range.”

3. Can’t Forget Charging

Charging matters just as much as range. And while total range might grab headlines and sell cars, the true measure of EV utility — and value — has more to do with miles driven per day if owners have access to reliable home charging. Otherwise, you might be paying extra for range you don’t need.

Beyond that, making public charging easy and efficient is nearly as crucial.

Bruzek agrees. “Considering how reliant a successful EV ownership experience is on home charging, the inclusion of a mobile Level 2 EVSE would be nice to see,” he said. “If there are promises of fast charging, then I hope it can deliver on those claims versus the slower-than-claimed charge rates we’ve experienced while fast-charging the ID.4 and Mach-E.”

4. A Less Common Feature

So far, we’ve mostly wanted the Solterra and bZ4X to be, well, normal SUVs that just happen to be electric. But Chief Copy Editor Patrick Masterson has a more out-of-the-box suggestion that could make these SUVs more interesting in a way that’s also useful.

“Four-wheel steering,” Masterson suggested. “A subtle but useful feature intended to improve parking maneuverability would further bolster Subaru’s claim that it’s ‘the most technologically advanced Subaru ever.’ It would also give Toyota another point at the dealership for selling the bZ4X as a functional city vehicle that’s every bit as capable as the short-wheelbase ID.4, whose 33.6-foot turning diameter stood out to us in our review.”

More From Cars.com:

We’ll have to wait until 2022 to see what the production versions of these all-electric SUVs actually bring to an increasingly crowded field. But at least for now, we can dream a little.

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Brian Normile
Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and Cars.com in 2013, and he became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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