Until the 2019 Ascent, Subaru stood by idly watching Outback and Forester owners with growing families trade in their crossover SUVs for Toyota Highlanders and Honda Pilots.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent gives those owners reasons to stay loyal to Subaru—and not just because it has seating for eight passengers. The 2019 Ascent is spacious, good to drive, and even a remarkably solid value. It's a hit all around an an easy nominee for our top award, Best Car To Buy 2019.
MORE: Read our 2019 Subaru Ascent review
For around $37,000, a popularly equipped Ascent is loaded with the features most families want in their crossover SUV—a good infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, seating for seven or eight, and plenty of active safety features. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control all come standard.
The Ascent may look like an inflated Outback, but its engine is unique. The 2.3-liter turbo-4 puts out 260 horsepower and teams well with a continuously variable transmission to motivate about 4,500 pounds of three-row crossover SUV well. It's nearly athletic to drive, with precise, linear steering and a ride that's composed without being harsh.
2019 Subaru Ascent first drive
2019 Subaru Ascent
2019 Subaru Ascent
Like other Subarus, there's no fuel-economy penalty with the Ascent's standard all-wheel drive. Most versions net about 23 mpg combined using regular fuel, which is better than many of its front-wheel-drive competitors.
MORE: Follow all our Best Car To Buy 2019 news as we name a winner
Unlike other Subarus, however, the Ascent is light on quirkiness. It's decidedly mainstream and takes the brand in a direction that should work well for a larger audience. The big question for buyers—and for our editorial team—is whether the Ascent does enough to stand out from an increasingly competitive crowd of three-row crossover SUVs vying for a spot in the carpool line.
We'll know soon enough—our announcement comes on Nov. 12.