Subaru of America, Inc. has just launched their all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent. A family-sized, three-row SUV, it is the largest Subaru ever with a choice of either a seven or eight passenger configuration, featuring a standard second row bench seat or available Captain?s chairs.
FOUR TO CHOOSE FROM
The Subaru Ascent is based on a strengthened and extended version of the Subaru Global Platform with extensive use of high-strength steel, focused on providing durability, rigidity and vibration resistance. Built in the U.S., the Ascent will be available in four levels of trim: the base Ascent; followed by Premium, Limited and Touring trim lines. Proicing will range from $31,995 to $44,695 with a $975. Destination and Handling fee.
POWERFUL FOUR BANGER
The Subaru Ascent?s source of propulsion is a 2.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve horizontally opposed Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder engine, with an intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger, Direct Fuel injection and electronic throttle control. The front-flat-mounted engine pumps out 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm while also producing 277 pound feet of torque in a range from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm. Motive force is delivered to the driving wheels via Subaru?s Lineartronic? CVT (continuously variable transmission) with Hill Descent Control; selectable 8-speed manual shift mode and steering wheel paddle shift control switches.
The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system features an electronically controlled variable transfer clutch; X-MODE variable transfer clutch lock control, Vehicle Dynamics Control with a traction control system and rollover sensor, as well as Trailer Stability Assist.
Active Torque Vectoring, first introduced on the WRX? and WRX STI? performance models, is also an Ascent standard feature, and the towing capacity is up to 5,000 pounds. Fuel economy allows for more than a 500-mile range on a single tank.
ATHLETIC DESIGN PRESENCE
The exterior styling of the Ascent is based on Subaru?s ?Dynamic x Solid? design philosophy, creating an SUV with a bold and athletic presence. The all-new SUV leads off by incorporating Subaru?s signature hexagonal grille and C-shaped headlights, reflective of pistons moving inside a Boxer engine. Wheel arches are prominent, emphasizing the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, and flowing into a horizontal character line. The flared lower sills establish a solid powerful look. Lower side and wheel arch cladding provide a rugged and capable appearance that is also protective. The exterior?s dramatic presence carries over into the cabin, starts from the central zone and flowing outward, creating a feeling of rich spaciousness.
Versatility reigns supreme with up to nine unique seating configurations and two rows of 60/40 split flat-folding seats that offer up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a stowable cargo cove. The Ascent comes standard with a second row bench seat, providing room for up to 8 passengers.
Premium and above trim levels offer second row captain?s chairs as a no-cost option, providing occupants with easier third-row access. New is 4G LTE Wi-Fi. The rear door openings are wide, with steep C-pillar angles and a low entrance point allowing for easy access to both the second and third rows. The standard roof rails enable carrying a number of accessories such as bicycles, kayaks and more. The power rear gate is height adjustable and there is a three-zone climate control, EyeSight? Driver Assist Technology comes as standard fare and let?s not forget the 19 cup and bottle holders.
The Ascent?s connectivity is courtesy of Subaru?s latest STARLINK in-vehicle technology with a multi-touch high-resolution display screen featuring smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay? and Android? Auto, Aha?and Pandora?, as well as Bluetooth? hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, rear vision camera and SiriusXM? services. Ascent comes standard with 6.5? Multimedia System with higher trim levels featuring 8? Multimedia Plus and 8? Multimedia Navigation systems.
STARLINK Connected Services now offers: remote engine start for models with push-button start; concierge service; anti-theft vehicle immobilizer with flashing vehicle security lights; child safety functions including geofencing, speed alert and curfew; and firmware updates over the air.
Ascent?s safety roster includes: Subaru?s Advanced Frontal Airbags, a driver?s knee airbag, standard front side pelvis/torso airbags and side curtain airbags that offer front and rear outboard seat coverage. In emergency braking situations, Brake Assist immediately applies pressure up to the ABS limit to help increase braking effectiveness, and the Brake Override System ensures that the engine power will be cut when the brake pedal and accelerator are pressed simultaneously. A Safety Plus package is also available, offering SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, a monthly vehicle health report, and diagnostic alerts. The Safety Plus & Security Plus upgrade package adds stolen vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights and remote vehicle locator.
The EyeSight? Driver Assist Technology includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and new EyeSight Assist Monitor (EAM) which provides a heads-up display of the EyeSight system warnings as well as system status information on the windshield of the vehicle.
Other safety features include: Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert availability. Steering Responsive Headlights are standard on Limited and Touring models. High Beam Assist automatically activates and deactivates the high beams when the system detects a vehicle ahead or oncoming vehicle. The 2019 Ascent also offers available Reverse Automatic Braking that applies the vehicle?s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing.
TOURING IN STYLE
The top-of-the-line Touring model features as standard, a new Front View Monitor that displays a 180-degree view of the front of the vehicle on the multi-function display by using a camera located in the front grille. A Smart Rear View Mirror displays a view from behind the vehicle from a camera mounted above the rear gate glass, when activated, benefitting the driver in poor visibility to the rear of the vehicle due to passengers or cargo blocking the view. A Rain Sensing Windshield Wiper system that automatically operates and monitors the wiper speed is standard on Touring models. There?s much, much more ? too much more to cover in depth.
My pre-production test vehicle was a 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring model with a Cinnamon Brown Pearl exterior finish, complemented by Java Brown leather seats and upholstery; upgraded leather steering wheel and woodgrain-pattern matte finish accent trim. Other distinguishable Touring model features include: satin silver side mirrors with integrated turn signals, chrome door handles, chrome front under guard and rear bumper protector. Added content above the Limited trim level includes: the SUBARU STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system, Harman Kardon? premium audio system with 14 speakers, panoramic power moonroof and rain-sensing wipers. Standard three-mode ventilated driver and front passenger seats enhance comfort, and the flagship model is also equipped with a standard 120-volt power outlet and up to eight USB ports for charging tablets, phones and laptops. The base price was set at $44,695. And my fully loaded test vehicle came to a total of $45.670. after adding the $975 Destination and Delivery charge – everything else was included. I later was able to spend more time in a production example Limited model, finished outside in Crimson Red Pearl and with the interior executed in Black with Ivory dash and door trim. The base sticker was set at $38,995., while the final tally came to $42,920 after adding in the options and Destination and Delivery charge.
THE DRIVE EXPERIENCE
So much for what it is ? now for what the 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring offers in the realm of the driving experience. It is an attractive midsize SUV offered at a most reasonable price point especially considering the feature content. It delivers an optimal combination of SUV capability and sedan-like ride and handling with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, 18- inch wheels and four-wheel independent suspension. The Ascent maintains a comfortably low step-in height for both front and rear passenger entry, despite its 8.7 inches of ground clearance for all models, which is greater than many SUVs.
The 2.4-liter Boxer engine delivers a healthy acceleration rate, and the high-torque Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters as well as X-Mode? with Hill Descent Control shifts smoothly without the benign feel experienced by many CVT equipped vehicles.
The handling characteristics were on par with several sporty sedans and the on road stability and ride comfort were exemplary. The Ascent proved its mettle off-road as well ? not in a rock-crawling scenario mind you, but over rough, uneven, unpaved surfaces, where it will see most of its duty.
In a bottom line analysis, the Subaru Ascent represents itself as a superbly desirable SUV, with more to offer than many competitors.
The all-new Ascent will be built in Subaru?s Indiana plant along with the Outback, Legacy and Impreza.
Specifications: 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring
Base Price: $44,695.
Price as Tested: $45.670.
Engine Type and Size: 2.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve horizontally opposed SUBARU BOXER 4-cylinder, with twin-scroll turbocharger, intercooler, Direct Fuel injection and electronic throttle control.
Horsepower (bhp): 260 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 277 @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
Transmission: Lineartronic? CVT (continuously variable transmission) with Hill Descent Control; selectable 8-speed manual shift mode and steering wheel paddle shift control switches.
Drive Train: Front flat mounted engine / Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with electronically controlled variable transfer clutch; X-MODE variable transfer clutch lock control, Vehicle Dynamics Control with traction control system and rollover sensor; Trailer Stability Assist.
Suspension: Four-wheel independent
Front – MacPherson-type struts, lower L-arms, coil springs, stabilizer bar; liquid-filled rubber engine mounts.
Rear – Double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted 4-wheel vented discs with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and 4-channel / 4-sensor ABS with Brake Assist and Brake Override safety systems; Active Torque Vectoring and Auto Vehicle Hold.
Tires: Falken Ziex ZE 001- 245/50 R20 mounted on 5-?V?-spoke maschine face, painted inner alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 113.8 inches
Length Overall: 196.8 inches
Width: 85.7 inches with mirrors
Height: 71.6 inches with roof rails.
Curb Weight: 4,603 lbs.
Turning Circle: 38.0 ft.
Approach Angle: 17.6 degrees
Departure Angle: 21.8 degrees
Ramp Breakover Angle: 18.2 degrees
Fuel Capacity: 19.3 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.