Is the Tesla Model Y better than the Kia EV6 and Subaru Solterra

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Buyers searching for an electric car now have more choices, thanks to a flood of new models in the past year.

But you’ll still need deep pockets to afford one – it costs about $80,000 for a mid-size SUV from a big name brand.

Subaru is the latest car maker to enter the fray with the Solterra. We’ve collected two of the best in the business – the Tesla Model Y and Kia EV6 – to see how it shapes up.

SUBARU SOLTERRA

The Solterra is a Toyota at heart. It shares its underpinnings with Toyota’s bZ4X and it’s instantly apparent Toyota took the lead in development.

From keyfobs to safety tech and driver display readouts, Toyota’s influence is everywhere you look.

That’s a win for buyers, as it’s a safe and reliable experience that doesn’t rock the boat.

Except for when it comes to settling the billwhich is roughly $83,000 drive-away for the Touring version.

It’s all-wheel-drive only and its dual electric motors make 160kW and 337Nm, fed by a 71.4kWh battery that delivers a driving range of up to 414km.

That makes it the least powerful car with the shortest driving range of the three we’ve assembled.

It can charge at a max rate of 150kW via a DC fast charger, well below the Tesla’s 250kW and Kia’s circs-240kW maximum.

The exterior design and interior fit-out are conservative.

The Solterra feels more familiar and conventional compared to the Tesla. Everything is where it’s always been and the only noticeable difference is the rotary style gear selector and the odd-shaped steering wheel.

Otherwise there are comfy and power adjustable faux-leather wrapped seats that are heated in both rows. A panoramic sunroof lets the light in and a heated steering wheel and 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo are nice touches.

On the road the Solterra is the comfiest of the trio with well sorted suspension soaking up bumps and road imperfections with ease. It’s a smooth and refined cruiser and adept at handling the cut and thrust of city traffic, but it does lack the driver enjoyment of the other two.

Subaru has best ownership credentials, courtesy of a five-year/unlimited km warranty, free servicing and complimentary roadside assistance for five years.

SUBARU SOLTERRA TOURING

PRICE: $83,000 drive-away

MOTOR: Dual motors, 160kW and 337Nm

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Five years/unlimited km, servicing free for five years

SAFETY: Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, safe-exit warning

RANGE: 414km

SPARE: Repair kit

LUGGAGE: 410 litres

KIA EV6

The EV6 is a bold looking vehicle with a supercar-like wedge front and a lift-back rear end.

It’s the most expensive of the three at about $86,000 on the road and it’s the only one that isn’t all-wheel drive – you’ll need to pony up an extra $8000-plus for that privilege.

Instead the EV6 makes do with a single rear-mounted electric motor that makes 168kW and 350Nm. It’s the slowest here, completing the benchmark 0-100km/h sprint in 7.3 seconds.

Despite that, it feels zippy off the mark and has plenty of power on tap for overtaking at speed.

On the road the EV6 is engaging to drive with direct and well weighted steering and great balance through corners, but you aren’t as well cushioned from bumps as in the Solterra.

The EV6’s seven-year/unlimited km warranty is the longest of the trio but it’s the most expensive to service.

Step inside and you are greeted by a cabin that doesn’t lack anything.

Desirable features include dual 12.3-inch screens, a 14-speaker Meridian stereo, a heated steering wheel, five USB ports and a wireless device charger.

It has the most safety tech of the three, too.

Faux-suede and leather-wrapped seats are heated and ventilated, adding a luxury feel, but some of the textured inserts on the dash and door trims are poorer quality than its rivals here. The second row has plenty of cheaper plastics too.

The EV6 is by far the quietest on the road, shielding passengers from tyre and road noise.

KIA EV6 GT-LINE RWD

PRICE: $86,000 drive-away

MOTOR: Single rear motor, 168kW and 350Nm

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Seven years/unlimited km, $2045 for seven years

SAFETY: Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit warning, rear occupant alert

RANGE: 504km

SPARE: Repair kit

LUGGAGE: 480 litres

TESLA MODEL Y

It’s easy to see why the Tesla Model Y is Australia’s favourite electric car.

Our Long Range variant is priced at about $84,500 in the traffic.

Tesla doesn’t provide details such as battery size and power outputs but estimates suggest it has an 82kWh battery and two electric motors pumping out 378kW and 493Nm.

What we do know is the Model Y is the fastest here, reaching 100km/h in a brisk five seconds flat. It also has the best driving range – up to 533km.

If you love driving the Model Y is the one for you. It has quick and sharp steering, it hugs the corners superbly and the tyres deliver excellent grip.

The trade-off is overly firm suspension that crashes over bumps of all sizes.

Its four-year/80,000km warranty is sub-par and there is no capped price servicing program.

The minimalist interior layout centres on one giant 15-inch central screen that controls everything from opening the glovebox to turning on the wipers and moving the steering wheel and side mirrors. Some will love it, others will find it unnecessarily complicated.

It’s got the best stereo of the bunch and it’s infotainment includes Spotify and other apps when on the move. When charging, you can access Netflix and arcade games. Sentry mode keeps an eye on the car while you’re away, while the Tesla app is the best of the three, making it the pick for technophiles.

The fit-out is middle of the road but the design is clean and the materials are of a decent quality.

Where it excels is the space inside. It has more head, shoulder and legroom than the others by a country mile. The boot is twice the size of the competition and it’s the only one with a storage space under the front bonnet.

Another ace up its sleeve is Tesla’s superior fast-charging network.

TESLA MODEL Y LONG RANGE

PRICE: About $84,500 drive-away

MOTOR Dual motors, 378kW and 493Nm (estimate)

WARRANTY/SERVICING: Four years/80,000km, no capped price servicing

SAFETY: Seven airbags, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, auto emergency braking

RANGE: 533km

SPARE: Repair kit

LUGGAGE: 854 litres

VERDICT

The Solterra’s sub-par range and performance put it third, while the Kia’s price weighs against it. The Tesla isn’t perfect but it’s a clear winner – better to drive, packed with useful tech and the most convenient to charge.