The brand new 2019 Subaru Ascent is the automaker’s biggest vehicle yet, extending its offerings from the BRZ Coupe through the Forester and Outback crossovers into a full-fledged three-row SUV.
The Ascent sits in a crowded midsized, three-row SUV category alongside the likes of Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Journey, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Volkswagen Atlas, and Honda Pilot. In other words, Subaru needed to spread the love to compete in an important American segment.
The engine for all trim levels is a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 260 horsepower. That might give potential buyers pause compared to the six-cylinder standard offerings of its competitors. However, the Ascent never felt underpowered, even with kids and gear. It’s also rated to tow 5,000 pounds, which is on the higher side for the segment.
That said, the EPA-rated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg highway on our Limited trim model (21/27 mpg for the base and Premium trims) doesn’t particularly stand out in the competitive set. We only averaged 17.4 miles per gallon over a couple hundred miles of city and highway driving.
On the safety front, Subaru sets itself apart by offering active safety features as standard such as pre-collision braking and throttle management, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Ascent looks like a Subaru — the brawniest of the bunch. Fleets in inclement weather states gravitate toward Subaru for its ground clearance and all-wheel drive capabilities. The Ascent is no exception.
Interior dimensions are about average for the segment, but space is accessed more easily with easily foldable and sliding second-row seats. Selecting captain’s chairs for the second row is a great idea for those wanting frequent access to the third row, though the third row doesn’t offer any extra space surprises. Like every third row in the category, it’s best used for kids needing a timeout.
In fitting with the category’s wide price range, the Ascent runs from just under $32,000 MSRP for the base model to more than $45,000 for the Touring edition. With standard AWD, Ascent can claim at least a $2,000 price savings over the competition’s premium for four-wheel drive.
The Outback won’t get a major overhaul until 2020. So for fleet users in the Subaru family who want the inclement weather security features, latest technology, and a step up into extra space, the Ascent is a good bet.