(The Car Connection) — Electric cars are no longer niche vehicles, and the new 2023 Subaru Solterra and 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 show just how much the mainstream has turned to battery-powered crossover SUVs.
The duo also represents a trend of automakers teaming up to share costs in a rapidly developing global market shaped by emissions regulations.
The Ioniq 5 and related Kia EV6 share a platform and have the same EV development resources, but the two electric crossovers can never be confused. The Solterra stems from another partnership with Toyota, which has teamed up to co-develop the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ sports coupes. Yet the Solterra looks so much like the Toyota BZ4X inside and out that the two might seem interchangeable.
Sized like a Subaru Forester but styled like the Toyota RAV4, the Solterra sports black cladding on the bumpers, rockers and fenders, where it wraps around the LED headlights to create the automotive equivalent of raccoon eyes. washer. Aerodynamics influence everything from the side curtains to the roofline, which flows into an unusual split roof spoiler and a raked rear windscreen lacking a wiper. Inside, the recessed instrument cluster located near the windshield and away from the driver is removed from a wide, Toyota-specific center console.
The Ioniq 5’s interior takes the opposite approach, with a wide open floor and a small armrest console that can be moved back and forth 6.0 inches to push it even further. A pair of 12.3-inch screens rise from a dash highlighted by a panel of haptic climate control buttons. It’s distinctive, not just for Hyundai, but for the Ioniq series of electric vehicles.
The unique look also extends to the exterior styling. The retro hatchback vibe features a chunky rear, prominent nose, diagonal body cuts and LED headlights and taillights that look like something out of an 8-bit game. It commands attention and, in our testing, received far more compliments than the innocuous Solterra.
The Ioniq 5 is also faster and more agile than the Solterra. It has a 77.4kWh battery and can be had with a 225hp single motor and rear-wheel-drive, or a twin-motor all-wheel-drive version that produces 320hp and 446 lb-ft. torque; a smaller 58kWh battery is planned for later this year. It can lean into corners and the independent suspension is set to the soft side, but the AWD model hits 60 mph in 5.0 seconds.
The Solterra takes about 6.5 seconds to hit 60 mph, is more punishing and drives more like a traditional crossover. Except in Subaru’s case, it’s unusually quiet. It comes with a 72.8 kWh battery, and the standard dual-motor all-wheel-drive system produces 218 hp and 249 lb-ft. The Ioniq 5 may be better on the road, but the Solterra, with its 8.3-inch ground clearance and three off-road settings, can hit dirt trails with the same sense of adventure as the others suffered.
In a weird switch, the Solterra can’t tow but the Ioniq 5 can haul up to 2,000 lbs.
Range peaks at 228 miles in the Solterra, and it has an EPA efficiency rating of 3.1 miles per kWh. Fast DC charging at a rather modest 100kW can restore up to 80% charge in less than an hour, and Subaru has partnered with the EVgo charging network, but the benefits for owners don’t have not been finalized.
The Ioniq 5 surpasses the Solterra in terms of battery life, efficiency and charging capacity; AWD versions of the Ioniq 5 have a range of 256 miles (303 miles with RWD) and an efficiency rating of 3.3 miles per kWh. In DC fast charging up to 240kW, the Ioniq 5 powers up to 80% in just 18 minutes. In addition, it has a vehicle-to-charge function that allows owners to power devices at a campsite, for example, or to charge another electric vehicle.
Both vehicles use paddle shifters for four levels of regenerative braking, with the Ioniq 5’s most aggressive setting bringing the car to a complete stop. The Solterra has a fifth setting, called S-Pedal which is supposed to act like a one-pedal ride, but it doesn’t come to a complete stop. They both have three drive modes, Normal, Sport and Eco, the latter softening pedal feel and reducing air conditioning output.
The Ioniq 5 also has the interior space advantage. Riding on a 118.1-inch wheelbase, which is longer than the Palisade three-row SUV, the Ioniq 5 accommodates up to five people in comfortable seats, and the second row can tilt and move forward and backward . The fixed glass roof and open floor plan give it space you can’t get in combustion engine cars.
The Solterra may be quieter than the Ioniq 5, but space is compromised by a tall and wide center console that eats up leg and hip room. Its wheelbase is 6.0 inches shorter and it seats five, but four would prefer if you didn’t. All seats are upholstered in animal-free, water-repellent synthetic leather upholstery. A crossbar divides the panoramic sunroof, so headroom also feels a bit tighter. The available roof rails give its buyers typical Subaru utility, and the roof can handle a 700 lb static load to strap this roof tent down.
Both cars have 60/40 split-folding rear seats, but the Solterra offers a bit more cargo space at 30 cubic feet versus 27.2 cubic feet in the Ioniq 5. Tiered cargo floors and cargo areas Smart storage adorns both models, but the Ioniq 5 has a little frunk for the charging cord while the Solterra doesn’t.
Toyota’s much-improved new infotainment system simplifies the controls of the Solterra, which also has hard buttons for climate controls and drive modes, while almost everything has to be done via Hyundai’s touchscreen. Voice commands in both are excellent and limit reliance on touch inputs, but the Solterra’s instrument cluster wastes space, especially compared to the Ioniq 5’s HD dynamic cluster. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Solterra, the Ioniq 5 has a better feature set, plus a better 5-year/60,000-mile warranty (the Solterra is 3/36,000) , though both electrified systems are guaranteed for 100,000 miles.
Both vehicles have excellent driver-assist features, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control and automatic high beams, but Subaru adds adaptive cruise control as standard. Crash tests have not yet been completed on both models.
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 scores a high TCC rating of 8.4 out of 10 and outperforms the Solterra and its 7.6 rating in most categories of our tests. But the Solterra capitalizes on the adventurous self-image of Subaru owners and marks an important first step into Subaru’s future. With the Ioniq 5, however, the future has already arrived.