Some people want nothing more than the benefits of a car without having to drive it. Regardless of how realistic self-driving cars are, the industry is marching in their direction with increasingly capable driving assists. The electric 2024 Subaru Solterra will join that parade, and debut the brand’s first-ever hands-free driving system.
The feature comes as part of a raft of updates coming to Subaru’s EyeSight assistance package on the 2024 Solterra EV. Subaru says drivers will be able to travel in their lane in stop-and-go traffic up to 25 mph with their hands off the wheel, and change lanes with a flick of the turn signal. The Solterra accordingly introduces driver monitoring systems to prevent misuse of the kind that led to Tesla recalling two million cars in December. It’s standard on the base model too, rather than a $12,000 option.
This makes the Solterra the first car in Subaru’s lineup to offer such a feature, though it’s far from the first in the larger Toyota ecosystem of which Subaru’s a part. (The Solterra is a twin to the Toyota BZ4X.) Toyota introduced a similar function on its Mirai hydrogen car and on the Lexus LS500h sedan. Mazda lacks the feature, but is unlikely to lag behind for long.
The usefulness of these assists is of course limited, as they still require the driver’s eyes to stay on the road. That means no texting or watching YouTube, but you can twist off a bottle lid or mop up spilled coffee. It’s not an enormous step forward, but it’s a quality-of-life improvement that many drivers will use every day.
“Quality-of-life” is also an appropriate way to describe other upgrades to the 2024 Solterra, like new paddles behind the steering wheel to control regenerative braking force. The SUV’s improved battery conditioning cuts DC fast-charging time from 10 to 80 percent from about an hour to 35 minutes, and boosts low-temperature charging speeds even more. The Solterra also features standard roof rails with a dynamic load limit of 176 pounds, or static load of 700—Subaru says it’s perfect for a rooftop tent.
The 2024 Subaru Solterra will start at $46,340 delivered, and Subaru suggests it could be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. However, the 2024 Solterra isn’t yet included in the EPA’s list of eligible vehicles, so do your homework to be sure you can lop $7,500 off your taxes.
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