By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
When Subaru last offered a larger SUV, the Tribeca, it didn?t sell as well as expected and it was discontinued in 2014 after nine years of production. Now Subaru has introduced a new, larger, three-row SUV and we think the Ascent could be a home run.
A few inches longer than other SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highland or Nissan 4Runner, the 2019 Subaru Ascent is the company?s latest assault on the seven- and eight-passenger sport utility market.
Built with Proven Elements
Built on a unibody platform using the same structural elements and controls as the Subaru Outback, which is their bestselling model. The Ascent has a 5.7-inch longer wheelbase than the Outback and it?s 7.9 inches longer. Numerically that?s only a small difference, but in the garage, it looks much larger.
The Largest Subaru Ever
The exterior is easily identified as Subaru and we were surprised to see heads turn and some pointing from other cars. We live in the Northwest, which is Subaru country, and seeing a new larger and clean Subaru may have attracted that attention. There are so many Subarus in this area some people have wondered if they are required for residency in the area. Also, most of the local Subarus are dirty, proving most owners take them off pavement. We didn?t feel quite right driving a clean Subaru, so we headed down a dirt road just to coat it with the requisite dust, so we?d fit in.
The interior has an upscale look with a prominent center stack filled with large, intuitive buttons, dials and a large infotainment screen mounted at the top of the stack. Up on top of the dash, mounted under a visor is the EyeSight Assist monitor. Standard seating is for eight or seven with the available second row captain?s chairs. Like most three-row SUVs the third row of the Ascent is best left to children or wiry adults.
A Turbocharged 260-hp 4-Cylinder Engine
The Ascent is powered by the latest version of Subaru?s four-cylinder boxer (horizontally opposed) engine. This one is a 260-hp turbocharged version which produces more horsepower and torque than the optional six-cylinder boxer engine used in the Outback. The 2.4-liter engine drives all four wheels through Subaru?s High-Torque Lineartronic? CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). We are not normally fans of CVT transmissions, but this one is about as good as they come. It simulates shifts of an eight-speed automatic transmission and can be shifted manually using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. We hope this engine finds its way into the Subaru Outback, and even the Subaru Legacy sedan at a future date.
5,000-Pound Towing Capacity
The 2019 Subaru Ascent has a 5,000-pound towing capacity (the largest capacity in Subaru history) giving it the capability of pulling travel trailers, boats or adult toys. It also comes with a Trailer Stability Assist that utilizes yaw sensors to monitor trailer sway and corrects the condition by braking individual wheels. With its 8.7-inch ground clearance, the Ascent is well suited for moderate off-road use.
Standard on all four trim levels is Subaru?s outstanding EyeSight Driver Assist Technology which includes Adaptive Cruise Control; Pre-Collision Braking and Throttle Management; Lane Departure Warning; and Lane Keep Assist. In addition, a rear-vision camera, Active Torque Vectoring, electronic parking brake, remote keyless entry and several other driver aids are included.
There are four trim levels available for the Subaru Ascent including the Ascent, Premium, Limited and Touring. Pricing ranges from $32,970 (including the destination charge) and go up to $45,670 for the Touring model. Available Touring model options are mostly aftermarket style accessories.
Our Limited test vehicle had a memory driver?s seat, 20-inch wheels and tires, plus Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. We appreciated other features like the high beam assist, LED headlights and fog lights, leather seating, power rear liftgate, steering responsive headlights, and another dozen convenience features. One option package ($2,950) added the STARLINK 8.0? Multimedia Navigation system, Apple CarPlay? Android? Auto, and several other communication aids. The package also added cloud controls for phone and text, Harman Kardon? sound, cargo area cover and panoramic power moonroof. The all-weather package added heated seats front and rear, heated steering wheel and windshield wiper deicer. Fully loaded the price of our test car was $42,920.
We both were surprised by how much we liked the Ascent. It is as quiet and comfortable as nearly anything we?ve driven recently. The steering is precise, the brakes are strong after repeated use and the handling is very good with only minor body lean when cornering.
A 0 to 60 mph run takes 6.9 seconds according to buff magazine tests. That?s about the average in the Ascent?s competitive group. EPA fuel economy is listed at 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. We averaged 23.7 mpg.
If we were in the market for an SUV, the 2019 Subaru Ascent would be right at the top of our list of favorites.