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Los Angeles Auto Show 2021: Electric Vehicles in the Wild

While off-roading and overlanding, the ability to discover new terrain is what makes the adventure worthwhile. Yet while we explore, we must learn to preserve and protect the land for future generations. The benefits of electric vehicles are becoming more widely recognized and could be very advantageous as we continue to travel the land. It may not seem likely that you would want to run an electric vehicle (EV) offroad. Or you may even question an EV’s overall off road capability compared to everything that is familiar. However, the 2021 LA Auto Show provided a glimpse into the future with reveals of new electric vehicles coming to the market that could be game changers for the offroading community.

2023 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra is the first electric vehicle with symmetrical all-wheel drive that provides uniform stability to each wheel and delivers an optimal distribution of power for maximum traction and improved handling. The Solterra is equipped with dual electric motors that generate 215 HP and 248 pound-feet of torque, making it well-equipped for any quest, with a range of 220 miles per charge. One key feature of the Solterra is the option of four drive modes: Eco, Power, Normal and the newly introduced, X-mode. Subaru’s X-mode electrically and independently modulates power to each wheel in slippery conditions and uneven terrain, making it easier for you to get out of ditches or sticky situations. Equipped with a 360 degree safety camera, 12.3” touch screen infotainment center, driver assistance technology, 8.3” of ground clearance, grip control (low speed cruise control) and plenty of cargo room, this EV is ready to hit the road. Cleverly crafted, the Soltara’s moniker is derived from Latin, combining the words “sun” and “earth”, a perfect name for a potential overlanding vehicle.

2023 Toyota bZ4X

With the first half of its name meaning Beyond Zero, the “4” being the vehicles size category and the “x” referring to a crossover, the Toyota bZ4X is hitting dealerships as early as mid-year 2022. The “bZ” moniker is Toyota’s introduction to their sub-brand for all upcoming electric models. This compact crossover features two models, both equipped with a 240-volt home charger for fast charging. The FWD single motor model (201 HP) will get you about 250 miles on a single charge, while the dual motor AWD model (215 HP) will take you approximately 230 miles on a single charge. The bZ4X has short overhangs and a longer wheelbase making it more aerodynamic than it’s similar sized family member, the RAV4. A prominent feature of the bZ4X is the solar roof, which charges the battery pack when the vehicle is stationary and can provide up to 1,110 miles of range per year. Other features include a minimalist interior, a 12.3” touchscreen, driver assist software, 8.3” of ground clearance and AWD.

Interestingly, you may notice the similarities between these two above mentioned EV models. They are a product of collaboration between Subaru and Toyota with a goal of developing a platform dedicated to battery electric vehicles. Though the vehicles share the same platform, the differences lie in key features provided by each manufacturer. So, whether you are a Subaru or Toyota enthusiast, the option for an all-new, top of the line, electric vehicle with off-road capabilities will be opening its driver door for you, mid 2022.

Camp Jeep

We were also able to head outside to Camp Jeep to check out the Jeep Rubicon 4xe, the Jeep plug-in hybrid Wrangler. A heavy step into electric conversion, this plug-in hybrid model has 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The Camp Jeep test course allowed riders to tackle obstacles and show what this Jeep can do. The ride featured obstacles including a 25-degree angle test, stair climbing and a 35-degree ramp climb, all of which was done with ease, showing the capability of the hybrid.

We’re excited for the EV movement and its progress. Seeing the vehicles in person and hearing what they’re all about is both interesting and refreshing. Technological developments are making it easier and safer to get out there and explore, all while taking care of the environment. The shift to include electric vehicles with full capabilities into the off-road game might be a rocky transition for some, but hey, little obstacles lead to bigger accomplishments. 

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