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Subaru Solterra vs Volvo C40 Recharge: High-Tech Electric Crossovers Compared

The future of driving is electric, and the Subaru Solterra and Volvo C40 Recharge are two of the most technologically advanced new battery-powered vehicles showcasing each brand‘s vision for the road ahead. Both of these all-electric crossover SUVs are clean-sheet designs, packed with cutting-edge EV technology, connectivity features and advanced driver assists that make them rolling showcases of automotive innovation.

So how do the high-tech underpinnings and feature sets of the Solterra and C40 stack up? Let‘s take a deep dive into the digital details of this Subaru vs Volvo EV face-off.

Electric Drivetrains and Performance

The Solterra and C40 Recharge are each powered by advanced electric drivetrains that have little in common with traditional gas engines. The Subaru uses a pair of AC permanent-magnet synchronous motors, one driving each axle, that together produce 215 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. The motors are fueled by a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the floor. Subaru says this setup will accelerate the 4,400-pound Solterra from 0-60 mph in around 6.5 seconds.

The Volvo also uses dual electric motors but they‘re of the more powerful permanent-magnet type. Total system output is an impressive 402 hp and 487 lb-ft, enough to hustle the 4,700-pound C40 Recharge from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds according to Volvo. A 75 kWh lithium-ion battery supplies the juice.

Both crossovers use single-speed direct-drive transmissions and provide all-wheel drive traction, with the Subaru‘s AWD system drawing on the brand‘s expertise with gas-powered models. Subaru estimates the Solterra will have an EPA range of over 220 miles, while Volvo says the C40 can travel up to 226 miles on a full charge. Those figures put both vehicles in the heart of the electric crossover pack, trailing leaders like the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E but ahead of the Volkswagen ID.4 and Chevrolet Bolt EUV.

When it comes to replenishing their battery packs, the Solterra offers standard DC fast-charging capability that allows it to go from a 10% charge to 80% in about 45 minutes at a public fast charger. Using a Level 2 240-volt home or public charger, the Subaru can be fully recharged in about 9 hours. The C40 Recharge‘s 150 kW DC fast-charging capability is slightly slower, requiring 40 minutes to go from 10-80%. With a Level 2 charger the Volvo needs about 8 hours for a full charge.

Real-world efficiency and charging costs for EVs depend heavily on electricity rates, driving conditions and habits, but the EPA provides MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) figures that make it easier to compare the energy consumption of electric vehicles. The Solterra earns a combined city/highway rating of up to 110 MPGe, while the C40 Recharge is rated at 95 MPGe combined. [1]

Using the U.S. average electricity price of about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, driving 100 miles in the Solterra would cost around $4.20 while the C40 Recharge would use about $4.90 worth of electricity. [2] Compare that to $11.50 in fuel costs to drive 100 miles in a gas-powered crossover averaging 25 mpg at $4.60 per gallon.

Infotainment and Connectivity

Inside the Solterra and C40 Recharge you‘ll find the latest in automotive infotainment and connectivity technology. The Subaru features a 12.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, cloud-based navigation, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability. An 11-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system is available. Wireless phone charging and a digital rearview mirror are also offered.

The C40 Recharge comes standard with a 9-inch vertical touchscreen powered by an Android Automotive operating system with built-in Google apps and services. Wireless phone charging, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and a 12-inch digital driver display are included on all trims. The Volvo also offers an advanced head-up display that can project navigation directions and other key info onto the windshield. Both vehicles provide remote monitoring and control via smartphone apps.

From a user experience standpoint, the two infotainment systems offer distinct advantages. The Subaru‘s interface is more conventional, with a touchscreen augmented by physical buttons and knobs for key functions. It‘s an approach that will feel familiar to drivers coming from traditional vehicles and should be easy to operate while driving.

The C40‘s Android-based system aims to replicate a smartphone-like experience with a customizable home screen and Google Assistant voice controls. It offers access to popular apps directly from the Google Play store. While this setup is more advanced than the Subaru‘s, some drivers may find it overly complex. The vertical touchscreen also means some on-screen buttons are a far reach from the driver‘s seat.

Driver Assistance and Safety Technology

The Solterra and C40 Recharge each offer a comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to enhance safety and reduce the stress of driving. Subaru‘s EyeSight system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic braking and a 360-degree parking camera system are also available.

Volvo‘s City Safety system is standard on the C40 Recharge, with features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and automatic high beams. A 360-degree parking camera and Volvo‘s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system, which combines adaptive cruise control with lane centering steering assist, are optional. Volvo has long been a leader in automotive safety technology and says the C40 Recharge was designed to meet its stringent internal safety standards.

Both EVs also utilize an array of sensors to enable their driver assistance features. The Subaru Solterra is equipped with dual color cameras mounted near the rearview mirror that provide a stereoscopic view of the road ahead. Radar sensors are also used to detect vehicles and obstacles around the vehicle. The Volvo C40 Recharge employs a combination of cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors along with cloud-based software and machine learning to constantly improve its ADAS capabilities.

While neither crossover offers hands-free driving capability at launch, both Subaru and Volvo say their new EVs lay the technological groundwork for more advanced autonomous driving features in the future. The C40 Recharge was hardware-engineered for unsupervised autonomous driving according to Volvo, with space reserved for additional computing power and redundant systems. Subaru‘s partnership with Xilinx is expected to result in new AI-based ADAS features for future vehicles.

Over-the-Air Updates and Cybersecurity

The Solterra and C40 Recharge join the growing ranks of new vehicles that can receive over-the-air software updates to improve performance, add new features or fix issues without visiting a dealership. Subaru says the Solterra‘s EyeSight system will be upgradable via OTA updates, while the crossover‘s electrical and climate control systems will also be updateable.

The C40 Recharge‘s Android Automotive operating system is designed to deliver full OTA update capability for all of the crossover‘s software-based systems, including infotainment, ADAS and battery management. Volvo plans to use OTA updates to extend the life of its EVs and continuously roll out new features. The Solterra and C40 use cybersecurity measures like encryption and secure network access to protect against hacking of their connected vehicle systems and preserve customer data privacy.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

While the zero direct emissions of the Solterra and C40 Recharge make them far more environmentally friendly than gas-powered vehicles, the production of EVs still has an environmental cost. Manufacturing lithium-ion battery packs is an energy-intensive process, although using renewable energy sources can mitigate this. Subaru says production of the Solterra is matched with renewable solar and wind energy through its partnership with Renewable Energy Group.

Both Subaru and Volvo have outlined plans to improve the sustainability of their EVs. Subaru has set a target for the Solterra to use recycled materials for 25% of its interior components by 2030. Volvo says at least 25% of the plastics used in the C40 Recharge are recycled and the crossover‘s interior is completely leather-free. Volvo is also working with suppliers to increase the use of recycled and bio-based content in its vehicles.

At the end of their useful lives, the Solterra and C40‘s battery packs will need to be recycled to recover valuable raw materials and prevent harmful waste. Subaru and Volvo both have programs in place to ensure responsible end-of-life treatment for their EV batteries, but there is still much work to be done to develop a robust battery recycling infrastructure.

Pricing and Value

The 2023 Subaru Solterra starts at $44,995 for the base Premium trim, while the better-equipped Limited and Touring models are priced from $48,495 and $51,995 respectively. Adding a destination charge of $1,225 brings the totals to $46,220, $49,720 and $53,220. Subaru has not yet detailed what specific features are included with each trim level.

Volvo has announced that the 2022 C40 Recharge will start at $58,750 before a $1,095 destination fee, which equates to $59,845. That price is for the generously equipped launch edition, which comes standard with features like a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera, Pilot Assist, and 20-inch wheels. Volvo says a less expensive base model will be introduced later.

The Solterra‘s significantly lower starting price gives it a clear value advantage over the C40 Recharge. Both crossovers are still eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and potential state and local incentives that can further reduce their effective costs. Factor in the lower operating costs of EVs compared to gas vehicles and the Solterra and C40 Recharge can be compelling values for eco-conscious shoppers.

But the C40‘s higher price does get you legitimate performance that‘s rare for this segment, along with more advanced technology, premium materials and the cachet of the Volvo brand. The Solterra‘s larger size and expected Subaru-grade reliability are strong selling points at its price, but the C40 feels more special and technologically sophisticated overall.

Driving Impressions and Conclusions

From behind the wheel, the Subaru Solterra and Volvo C40 Recharge provide distinct driving experiences. With 402 electric horsepower on tap, the Volvo is an absolute blast in a straight line, serving up the kind of effortless acceleration that will make you grin every time you floor it. The C40‘s low center of gravity and 50/50 weight distribution also make it feel surprisingly nimble and confident when the road gets twisty.

The Solterra is down on power compared to the Volvo, but it‘s by no means slow. The Subaru‘s dual electric motors provide smooth, linear acceleration and its all-wheel drive system maintains excellent traction on loose surfaces and in inclement weather. While not as overtly sporty as the C40, the Solterra feels stable and surefooted, with a supple suspension that soaks up bumps and a quiet cabin that makes it an agreeable companion for daily driving.

Inside, the C40 Recharge‘s sustainable materials, digital interfaces and minimalist Scandinavian design give it a clean, premium, futuristic feel. The Solterra has a more conventional cockpit with a greater array of physical controls that some drivers will prefer. Materials quality is good for a Subaru but a step behind Volvo standards. The Solterra does provide a roomier rear seat and cargo area than the style-focused C40 Recharge.

Choosing between the Subaru Solterra and Volvo C40 ultimately comes down to your budget and priorities. Starting around $46,000, the Solterra is an extremely compelling option based on its blend of performance, utility, technology and value. If you can spend closer to $60,000, the C40 Recharge delivers blistering acceleration, a gorgeous interior and more advanced tech that make it feel a bit more special and futuristic.

If maximum EV driving range is your goal, the Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y are worth a look. The VW ID.4 and Toyota bZ4X (which shares its platform with the Solterra) are other strong choices in this segment. But the Subaru Solterra and Volvo C40 Recharge bring formidable combinations of technology, performance and zero emissions capability that make them two of the most interesting new electric crossovers you can buy.

[2] U.S. Energy Information Administration (