autoevolution

Toyota bZ4X vs Subaru Solterra: an Identical Chassis for Two Very Different EVs

It was EV Mania at this year's New York International Auto Show. Although, we suspect that we'll see it as the first of what's to become a normal-looking motoring show going forward. You may lament the arrival of the EV revolution, but we all need to get around in a post-cheap gas world.
Toyota vs Subaru 2022 NYIAS 35 photos
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In that role, the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra will do the trick. Depending on your point of view, the EV takeover at the New York Auto Show this year is either the start of a new era for American drivers, or one giant middle finger to everything you hold dear about cars. But let's put our differences aside just for a moment and try to figure out whether you should go with Toyota or Subaru if you're in the market for a new EV.

Subaru and Toyota may try to maintain at least a thin veneer of plausible deniability that the Solterra and bZ4X are twin models. But come on, this is a level of badge engineering that'd make early 2000s General Motors green with envy. At least on first impressions, you can understand why someone might be inclined to think this is the case.

But don't be fooled. This is not another GM botch job. Not the least bit, because they're not involved. Despite a very similar appearance, the bZ4X and the Solterra are two EVs marketed towards two very different groups of people. They are the result of a partnership between the two Japanese automakers that brought us the remarkable BRZ and GT86. Starting with the Toyota, it's clear the bZ4X follows a design language unique to the brand.

Soft, inoffensive styling lines merge with smooth, sculpted bodywork where there were once air intake vents on most passenger ICE cars. Getting over that little design change might turn out to be one of the more challenging aspects of EV ownership. Elsewhere throughout the exterior, styling cues from the Venza and Highlander SUV are sure to be appreciated, as are the near-identical proportions to that of the more conventional Corolla Cross.

Toyota vs Subaru 2022 NYIAS
Overall, everything about the very first North American Toyota EV is tame, civilized, and very much geared towards people who don't really care one way or another what set of four wheels gets them to or from work every day. It's a trend that's true in the interior just as much as it is outside. Of course, all the essential cockpit functions are integrated into one of the two LCD screens taking up real estate in the gauge cluster and in the center navigation/infotainment center.

One can only hope the laptop-like device employed to scroll through the center screen options is at least as functional as the average HP or Lenovo. The twin-motor AC permanent magnet synchronous battery EV drivetrain in tow with both the Solterra and the bZ4X might not inspire like a Model S, but the equivalent of 201 horsepower at the very least will get you merged onto the highway without much trouble. The range doesn't hurt either.

As for Subaru's offering in the Solterra, you can instantly see where, at least aesthetically, it panders to a totally separate crowd. Where the bZ4X is tame, unassuming, and a bit drab to some tastes, the Solterra takes from the design language of its makers. While the changes are admittedly subtle, there's just something about the bold, aggressive mystique of grand adventure that Subarus inherently possess that makes them more desirable than other Japanese automakers.

The familiar silhouette of the Outback, Impreza and the Forester permeate the front fascia of the Solterra in a more noticeable way than it does on the equivalent Toyota. Granted, that may not be the case for the interior, as it's largely the same between the two apart from the branding. But rest assured, it's enough of a difference to make a world of difference. Enough for two polar opposite groups of people to take a liking to either of them.

Toyota vs Subaru 2022 NYIAS
By now, we have more in-depth analysis of both the bZ4X and the Solterra than most people could shake a stick at. But as we all know, in the flesh, first impressions can often be the deal breaker as to whether someone chooses one model over another. In this exercise here, we found that both the Subaru and the Toyota have more than enough pull to earn their keep in their respective market segments.

Check back soon for more from our coverage from 2022's New York International Auto Show here on autoevolution.


 
 
 
 
 

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