Subaru’s second stab at the three-row crossover

Subaru is back in the three-row crossover game after a notable absence since the ill-fated Tribeca died a slow, agonizing death in 2014 from poor customer reception and slow sales over its nine-year life. Naturally, Subaru has done everything it knows in order to avoid repeating past mistakes. The all-new 2019 Ascent is larger, sleeker, more tech-savvy, loaded with active safety features, and powered by an all-new 260-horsepower, 2.4-liter Boxer engine with Symmetrical AWD.

The Ascent comes at just the right time as crossovers are utterly exploding in popularity. Growing families who eschew the minivan stigma are gravitating to three-row crossovers while empty nesters find the extra seating handy for grandkids. Four trim levels are offered – the base, Premium, Limited, and Touring – with pricing starting at $31,995. We’ve got all the details below, so keep reading for more.

Update 02/15/2018: Subaru has announced pricing for the 2019 Ascent. Check out the pricing category below for all the details.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Subaru Ascent.

Exterior

FAST FACTS

  • Larger dimensions equals more interior volume
  • 8.7 inches of ground clearance
  • Sculpted design is fresh but connected to Subi’s other models
  • 18- to 20-inch alloy wheels

While Subaru has been known to display stunningly gorgeous concept models only to deliver diluted and dull production versions, the 2019 Ascent doesn’t follow that trend… for the most part. The 2019 production model is certainly toned down from the concept we saw in 2017, but overall, the two share many of the same visual attributes. The crossover will be instantly recognizable as a Subaru since it looks like every other wagon and crossover in the automaker’s lineup, but it does have a handful of interesting cues.

Subaru’s six-sided grille, wide lower grille, and fog light surrounds all feel familiar. The wheel wells and rocker panels are accented with black plastic cladding, which does add protection from parking lot dings and minor road debris. Impressively, the Ascent has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, meaning it won’t have an issue hitting parking stops, scraping on steep driveways, or traversing a mild trail in any given state park.

The Ascent comes with a roof rack for added storage – a surprisingly popular thing among Subaru owners. The rear has a somewhat forgettable design, offer no real injections of excitement or visual interest. While boring, the Ascent’s rump doesn’t look bad. Overall, the Ascent is far more attractive than the Tribeca ever was.

Wheel choices range from 18 inches on the base model to 20 inches on the Touring trim. A trailer hitch can be added, too, complementing the Ascent’s max towing of 5,000 pounds – the most in Subaru history.

Interior

FAST FACTS

  • Standard 6.5-inch Starlink infotainment system
  • Available 8.0-inch Starlink system
  • Seating for seven or eight, depending on the second row
  • 86.5 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row
  • 153.5 cubic feet of cargo behind the first row
  • 19 cup holders
  • Four trim levels offer various levels of luxury

In keeping with its SUV-ish attitude, the 2019 Ascent offers a more upright seating position and a tall dashboard. In its standard trim, there is seating for eight in a 2+3+3 configuration. In the upper trims, the second-row bench can be swapped for captain’s chairs at no cost. While this decreases total seating by one, it makes access to the third row much easier, especially for smaller kids.

Regardless of how many people are sitting inside, everyone will have plenty of cup holders. Subaru included a whopping 19 of them throughout the cabin, meaning everyone has more than one to choose from. Other storage spots include the center console, glove box, door pockets, seatback pockets, and a compartment under the cargo area. Floor.

The Ascent offers 85.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the third row folded flat. Add the second row, and the space grows to 153.5 cubic feet of storage room. That’s far more that the 74.4 cubic feet offered in the old Tribeca.

When it comes to in-dash technology, the 2019 Ascent has things on lock. The standard Starlink infotainment system has a 6.5-inch touchscreen, while the upper trims come with an 8.0-inch display. Both come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The larger system even boasts Wi-Fi connectivity.

Drivetrain

FAST FACTS

  • New 2.5-liter Boxer turbo-four with direct injection
  • 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm
  • 277 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm
  • Continuously Variable Transmission
  • Standard Symmetrical AWD
  • 5,000-pound tow rating
  • Max fuel economy of 21 mpg city/ 27 mpg hwy / 23 mpg comb

Subaru is giving the 2019 Ascent an all-new, 2.0-liter turbocharged Boxer four-cylinder. The horizontally opposed cylinder arrangement puts the engine lower in the Ascent’s engine bay and helps reduce the crossover’s center of gravity. And at 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, the Boxer should give the Subi enough grunt for daily driving chores. Of course, it’s not a WRX STi, by any means.

The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission that offers eight “gears” for manual shifting. Subaru is known for its Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, and the Ascent will be no different. The full-time AWD system also includes X-Mode with Hill Descent Control for more challenging terrain.

The Ascent’s unibody chassis is beefy enough to allow for a 5,000-pound towing capacity. Still, fuel economy is decently good at 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined on models with the 18-inch wheels and standard array of features and equipment. For loaded models fitted with the 20-inch wheels, the fuel economy drops to 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined.

Safety

Many modern vehicles come with a laundry list of active safety features designed to keep accidents from happening. On the 2019 Ascent, the long list includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and the available EyeSight Assist Monitor. The EAM provides a heads-up display of warnings from the EyeSight system and system status information.

Other techy options include Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, and Reverse Automatic Braking. The list of passive safety is impressive, too, with dual front airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, front side torso airbags, and side curtain airbags for all three rows.

Pricing

The 2019 Subaru Ascent starts at $31,995. For that, the Ascent comes with Symmetrical AWD, EyeSight Driver Assist, Subaru Starlink with the 6.5-inch screen, four USB ports, three-zone climate controls, a second-row bench seat for eight seats total, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a whopping 19 cup holders.

The Premium trim starts at $34,195 and adds several convenience and safety features. They include the 8.0-inch Starlink infotainment system, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a power driver’s seat, stain resistant cloth seats, rear climate controls, heated front seats, a windshield de-icer, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, tinted windows, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Those wanting leather seats will want the $38,995 Limited trim. Not only does it have the upgraded upholstery, but it comes with second-row captains chairs (or opt to keep the bench seat at no charge), adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist, LED fog lights, second-row retractable sunshades, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, keyless access and push-button starting, and two extra USB ports.

The Touring trim is the range-topping model and starts at $44,695. Standard features are mostly cosmetic, though navigation is added to the 8.0-inch Starlink infotainment system, a Harman Kardon sound system with 14 speakers is included, and a panoramic moonroof and rain-sensing windshield wipers are made standard. On the safety side, Subaru’s Smart Rear-View mirror and 180-degree front-view camera are added. As for the cosmetic stuff, the exterior gets chrome and satin silver detailing while the interior gets Java Brown leather seating with faux woodgrain trim.

Model/Trim Seating Transmission Applicable Option Code MSRP MSRP + Destination & Delivery
Ascent 8-p CVT ‘01 $31,995 $32,970
Ascent Premium 8-p CVT 11
12
14
$34,195
$35,655
$38,455
$35,170
$36,630
$39,430
Ascent Premium 7-p CVT 12
14
$35,655
$38,455
$36,630
$39,430
Ascent Limited 8-p CVT 21, 23 $38,995 $39,970
Ascent Limited 7-p CVT 21, 23 $38,995 $39,970
Ascent Touring 7-p CVT 31 $44,695 $45,670

Competition

Honda Pilot

2016 Honda Pilot High Resolution Exterior
- image 616641

The Pilot might be a few years old, but it’s one of the best-selling three-row crossovers in the business. It combines outright utility with comfort and style. Sprinkle on Honda’s brand image of reliability and available AWD and you’ve got family-hauling homerun.

The Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 making 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. As mentioned, FWD is standard and AWD is optional. With all four wheels turning, the Pilot can lug a 5,000-pound trailer and regardless of the drivetrain, it will carry up to eight people – seven with the optional second-row captain’s chairs. Lower trims come with a six-speed automatic and upper trims (Touring and Elite) come with a fuel-saving nine-speed automatic.

Pricing varies wildly depending on trim and options. The base LX starts at $30,745 while the range-topping Elite starts at $47,220. Getting the Elite means everything that is normally optional is now standard. That means $47,220 is about the highest price you can pay, barring you go crazy with dealership add-ons.

Read our full review on the 2017 Honda Pilot.

Volkswagen Atlas

2018 Volkswagen Atlas High Resolution Exterior
- image 693391

The Atlas should be pronounced “At last” since it’s taken Volkswagen so long to enter the three-row SUV game. Thankfully, the Atlas is well-baked with tons of well-conceived features, a roomy interior, seating for seven people, and a couple drivetrain options. The Atlas also rides on familiar bones; it’s the MQB platform that also underpins seemingly every modern VW and Audi product. Interior niceties include an available digital dash, VW’s latest infotainment system, and 97cubic-feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded.

Standard power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but it’s relegated to lower trims with FWD. Most Atlas models come with a 3.6-liter V-6 with 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic sends power to the front wheels. VW’s 4Motion AWD system is optional.

Pricing starts at $30,500, but most will skip the 2.0-liter base S model. Other trims include the SE, SE with Technology, and SEL. Opting for the V-6 pushes the base price to $31,900. For 2018, VW is offering a V-6 Launch Edition. The S, SE, SE with 4Motion, SE with Technology, SE with Technology and 4Motion, SEL, SEL with 4Motion and SEL Premium with 4Motion are available. While a bit confusing at first, the trims do make sense. Expect to by $48,490 for the V-6 SEL Platinum with 4Motion before options.

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Conclusion

It’s been a while since Subaru has offered a three-row crossover. The 2019 Ascent should do rather well for itself in filling this gap in Subaru’s product lineup. It’s also been long enough that nobody remembers the easily forgettable Tribeca, and that’ll work in the Ascent’s favor.

Crossovers and SUVs are hot these days and Subaru has done a great job marketing itself as a family and safety-oriented automaker, so it’s very fitting that a three-row crossover join its lineup.

  • Leave it
    • * CVT will limit towing
    • * Will it overcome the Tribeca’s failure?

References

Subaru Ascent SUV Concept Begs One Question: WHY? High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 713494

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Ascent Concept.

2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – Visitor's Guide
- image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

Largest Subaru ever with choice of seven- or eight- passenger configurations
Family-sized SUV built for versatility, comfort and safety
Designed for excellent interior comfort, passenger access and cargo capacity
All-new turbocharged 260-hp BOXER® engine
Standard EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology
5,000 lb. maximum towing capacity
New 4G LTE Wi-Fi
Standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Ascent to be built in Lafayette, IN

Subaru of America Inc., building on nine consecutive years of sales growth, today debuted the all-new 2019 Ascent. The highly anticipated three-row SUV is the biggest Subaru ever built and is designed for active families on-the-go. Expanding on renowned Subaru strengths, the Ascent delivers an unparalleled driving experience with a spacious interior, comfortable and flexible seating options and a host of new safety, driver assist and in-vehicle technologies.

The Ascent is an all-new model and comes with three rows of seating, with available bench or captain’s chairs in the second row. The SUV is built on a strengthened and extended version of the Subaru Global Platform with extensive use of high-strength steel. With a focus on durability, rigidity and vibration resistance, the Ascent platform is designed to provide a quiet interior and excellent driving feel. Powered by an all-new 2.4-liter BOXER engine, the Ascent comes standard with a new version of Subaru’s high-torque Lineartronic® CVT (continuously variable transmission) and legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system– all wrapped in a stylish and rugged design with a commanding presence. The new U.S.-built Ascent will be available in base, Premium, Limited and Touring trim lines when it arrives in Subaru retailers in early summer.

The Family-focused SUV
The all-new Ascent, with a 113.8-in. wheelbase, is the largest Subaru ever built and is the mobile headquarters for the entire family. With 153.5 cubic feet of passenger volume, plus ample cargo space, the Ascent provides room for every passenger and their gear. Rear doors open 75 degrees for improved access to the third row. Eight USB charging ports are available throughout the cabin and a 120-volt power outlet based in the rear of the center console allow charging for multiple electronic devices. With 19 standard cup and bottle holders, every passenger’s beverage is secure and close at hand.

Standard three- zone automatic climate control ensures all passengers stay comfortable, with large air vents for all three rows. Second row reading lights are standard on all models with third row lights standard on Premium, Limited and Touring. Ambient and footwell lighting is also available throughout the cabin.

The Ascent features available power adjustable front seats with lumbar support and a length adjustment function for the driver seat cushion. Front and second row heated seats are available as part of the All-Weather Package for Premium models, while Limited and Touring trims add a heated steering wheel. Also standard on Touring models are ventilated driver and front passenger seats.

The new Subaru Global Platform integrates new framework with optimized cross sections and highly stiffened joints between structures to significantly enhance straight-line stability, agility, and ride comfort while suppressing noise, vibration and harshness to a degree not seen before in the mid-size SUV class. The Ascent provides a refined, quiet ride thanks to comprehensive soundproofing measures, including an acoustic windshield and front door glass.

Styling and Versatility
The Ascent’s exterior builds on Subaru’s “Dynamic x Solid” design philosophy to create an SUV with a commanding presence. The all-new SUV incorporates the brand’s signature hexagonal grille and C-shaped headlights that are reminiscent of pistons moving inside a BOXER engine. Prominent wheel arches emphasize Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and flow into a horizontal character line and are also mirrored in the flared lower sills for a solid and powerful look. Lower side and wheel arch cladding provide a rugged and capable appearance. The dramatic new look carries into the cabin and starts from the central zone and flows outward to create a rich and spacious feel.

The Ascent is the most versatile Subaru ever with up to nine unique seating configurations and two rows of 60/40 split flat-folding seats offering up to 72.6 cubic feet of cargo space. 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 and provide occupants with easier access to the third-row. Wide rear door openings, steep C-pillar angles and low entrance point allow easy access for both second and third row passengers. The standard roof rails allow for a number of accessories for carrying items such as bicycles and kayaks.

Performance and Capability
The 2019 Ascent offers the optimal blend of SUV capability and car-like ride and handling with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, 18- inch wheels and four-wheel independent suspension. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance for all models is greater than many SUVs, yet the Ascent maintains a comfortably low step-in height for both front and rear passenger entry. Active Torque Vectoring, first introduced on the WRX ® and WRX STI® performance models, is also standard.

The three-row SUV is powered by an all-new 2.4-liter BOXER engine that uses a combination of direct fuel injection, high compression (10.6:1), Subaru Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS), a twin-scroll turbocharger and an intercooler to achieve outstanding performance and high efficiency. The engine produces 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, accompanied by a broad torque curve that peaks at 277 lb.ft. over a 2,000-4,800-rpm engine speed range. All trim levels are paired with a 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. This powertrain allows up to 5,000-lb. towing capacity, the most of any Subaru in history. Trailer Stability Assist helps to maintain vehicle stability while towing. The TSA system utilizes yaw sensors to monitor trailer sway and then can brake individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle and trailer. The Ascent is not only powerful but also efficient with exemplary fuel economy that provides more than a 500-mile range on a single tank.

SUBARU STARLINK™ In-Vehicle Technology
The Ascent offers the latest STARLINK multimedia systems with a multi-touch high-resolution display screen that features 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 and higher trim levels feature 8” Multimedia Plus and 8” Multimedia Navigation systems.

For the first time, available in-car Wi-Fi connectivity provides smooth internet access via high-speed LTE™ communications, broadening the range of entertainment options available to second and third row occupants using smart devices.

SUBARU STARLINK Connected Services now offers remote engine start (on 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.

Also available is the Safety Plus package that offers SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, 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.

Advanced Safety Features
The 2019 Ascent comes standard with EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology that 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. Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also available. 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 apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing.

Standard on the top-level Touring trim is the 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. Additional new driver assist technology standard on Touring is the Smart Rear View Mirror which displays a view from behind the vehicle from a camera mounted above the rear gate glass, when activated. This feature benefits 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 based on the amount of rainfall is standard on Touring.

The Ascent’s new platform integrates the latest version of the Subaru ring-shaped reinforcement frame design, proven over nearly two decades to provide excellent occupant collision protection. Front-end structural details help bolster safety for pedestrians.

Inside, the Ascent fills out its safety roster with the Subaru 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, Brake Assist immediately applies pressure up to the ABS limit to help increase braking effectiveness. The Brake Override System ensures that the engine power will be cut when the brake pedal and accelerator are pressed simultaneously.

Four Trim Levels
The 2019 Subaru Ascent will be offered in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and Touring. The base starts with an extensive roster of standard features that includes EyeSight with automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist; a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; four USB ports; three zone automatic climate control; automatic power door locks and power side mirrors; raised roof rails; second-row bench seat (8 passengers); 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with silver finish: 19 cup and bottle holders; multi-function display; and security system with engine immobilizer. Standard on all models is Auto Vehicle Hold which keeps the vehicle in position at a stop so the driver does not need to continuously depress the brake pedal. For the first time in a Subaru, a convex cabin-view mirror that allows the driver and front passenger to view occupants in the second and third row is standard equipment. The Premium trim adds Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; towing capability up to 5,000 lb.; power driver seat; unique spill-repellent cloth upholstery in either black or ivory; 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen; Wi-Fi connectivity; body-color side mirrors; privacy glass; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle; rear seat climate controls; 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in gray with machine finish; and the All-Weather Package with heated exterior mirrors, 3-mode heated front seats and windshield wiper de-icer. Stepping up to the Premium trim allows wider option availability, including second-row captain’s chairs; Reverse Automatic Braking; 20-inch dark gray with machine finish wheels; and a panoramic moonroof. Also available is a power rear gate with height memory; Keyless Access with Push-Button Start; 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system; auto dimming rear view mirror; and a tonneau cover to conceal cargo.

The Limited includes all the Premium trim features and adds leather-trimmed upholstery, LED Steering Responsive Headlights with High Beam Assist, LED fog lights and new second-row retractable sunshades. Also standard is a set of 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in dark gray with machine finish mounted on 245/50 R20 all season tires. Lower door cladding with chrome accents and body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals; driver’s seat adjustable thigh support; Reverse Automatic Braking; power rear gate with height memory; and Keyless Access with Push-Button Start are also standard equipment on the Limited. Two additional USB ports are added to Limited, to bring the total number to six.

The top of the line Touring model is distinguished by satin silver side mirrors with integrated turn signals, chrome door handles, chrome front under guard and rear bumper protector. The unique interior features Java Brown leather seats and upholstery; upgraded leather steering wheel and woodgrain-pattern matte finish accent trim. Standard three-mode ventilated driver and front passenger seats enhance the comfort in the Touring model. A total of eight UBS ports and 120-volt power outlet for charging tablets, phones and laptops is standard. The Touring includes all standard features from the Limited and adds the SUBARU STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system, Harman Kardon® premium audio system with 14 speakers, panoramic power moonroof and rain-sensing wipers. To improve the driver’s view, a unique Smart Rear-View Mirror and a 180-degree front-view camera complete Touring’s comprehensive list of features.

The all-new Ascent will be built in Subaru’s plant in Indiana along with the Outback, Legacy and Impreza.

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