- Bigger Subaru = better
- Three rows for families
- Upgraded safety systems
- Maybe bigger Subaru ≠ better?
- Small power for big crossover
- Fuel economy unknown
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a three-row crossover for families looking to grow, but not grow out of the outdoorsy brand.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a family-focused, three-row crossover SUV and the largest vehicle ever produced by the automaker.
It goes on sale in summer 2018. Pricing will start from about $33,000, which undercuts most rivals when the Ascent's standard all-wheel drive is factored in. When it hits dealers, the Ascent will be offered in base, Premium, Limited, and Touring trim levels.
With the Ascent, Subaru finally has a large crossover SUV to complement its outdoors-ready lineup of smaller crossovers, wagons, and sedans. The Subaru Ascent is built in Lafayette, Indiana.
Although the Ascent is new for Subaru, its styling is instantly recognizable. It borrows much of it outward looks from the Subaru Outback, including its wagon proportions and window kink closer to the rear roof pillar. The nose of the Ascent is decidedly bigger and taller, with a larger and more upright grille opening than the Outback. The trapezoidal grille is flanked by hawkish headlights, and LED headlights on top trims.
Inside, the Ascent is focused on family detail with a standard second-row bench that can be swapped with captain's chairs on Premium, Limited, and Touring trim levels for no charge.
The Ascent will exclusively sport a new turbo-4 for Subaru that's paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and standard all-wheel drive. The 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4 engine makes 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque and is rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds in Premium trim levels or higher. The CVT operates like a traditional automatic transmission during heavy acceleration and simulates "gears" when pressed, but its largely tasked with keeping the big all-wheel-drive crossover fuel-efficient. Initial fuel-economy figures aren't yet available.
Like every other Subaru (except the BRZ sports car), the Ascent will be equipped with standard all-wheel drive on all models. Coupled with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, four-wheel independent suspension, and respectable low-end grunt, the Ascent should be capable on gravel roads or for light off-roading duty.
Its mission, however, is firmly as a family vehicle first. The Ascent will feature three rows of seating for up to eight, with 19.6 cubic feet of cargo room available in the back with the second and third rows in place. Although its interior size is roughly similar to the Chevy Traverse, the leg room in the third row is cut down to 31.7 inches—down a couple inches to the Traverse but far more than smaller crossovers with an abbreviated third row such as the Volkswagen Tiguan or Land Rover Discovery Sport.
With the third row folded, the Ascent will hold 44.3 cubic feet of cargo, up to 72.6 cubes with only the first row in place. Cloth seats are standard the base Ascent, with Premium adding a premium cloth trim, and Limited and Touring trims offering leather hides.
The Ascent rides atop Subaru's new global platform that underpins the Impreza and Crosstrek. Official safety data isn't yet available, but Subaru has said the Ascent will have standard advanced safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control, which the automaker brands as EyeSight. A head-up display, a first for Subaru, will relay safety information to the driver. All Ascents will be equipped with a rearview camera. Blind-spot monitors and a forward-facing camera are available on higher trim levels. On Touring trim levels, Subaru makes standard a rear-facing camera that's projected on to the rearview mirror—similar to Cadillac's system—for unobstructed outward vision.
Base models will be equipped with 18-inch wheels, four USB ports, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, cloth upholstery, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability, three-zone climate control, and the EyeSight safety systems. At the top, Touring trim levels will get leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, woodgrain trim, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, and front- and rear-facing cameras for outward vision.