Now available at Subaru dealerships is the all-new Ascent , a three-row crossover utility vehicle with seating for up to eight passengers. It’s the largest Subaru vehicle ever offered in the U.S.
There are four trim levels, starting with the base Ascent eight-passenger model at $31,995 (plus $975 freight), followed by the Premium, beginning at $34,195 for the eight-passenger version or $35,655 for the seven-passenger model; the Limited, $38,995 for seven- or eight-passenger capacity; and the Touring, $44,695, with seven-passenger configuration.
All Ascent models come with the Subaru Symmetrical All-wheel Drive and a boxer-style (horizontally opposed) turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, producing a respectable 260 horsepower and 277 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission with simulated eight speeds that can be manually shifted using paddles on the steering wheel.
EPA ratings the base Ascent and Premium model are 21 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined; Limited and Touring trims with 20-inch wheels are rated at 20 city/26 highway/22 combined. During our weeklong test of the Ascent Limited, we averaged about 21.5 mpg with an equal mix of local and highway driving.
Standard is the eight-passenger seating, which includes two seats up front, three positions on a middle bench seat, and three more on a rear bench. To get the seven-passenger setup, the Ascent can be equipped with two captain’s chairs in the middle row instead of the three-person bench. The Limited model can be fitted with either seating setup with no additional charge either way.
Our test vehicle was the Limited, configured for seven passengers. There are roomy and well-cushioned bucket seats up front, with 10-way power adjustment on the driver’s side and four-way power on the passenger side.
Front and middle seats were quite comfortable, and even average-size folks and big kids had decent space in the third row, which is relatively easy to access.
Among included features was the All-Weather Package, which brought heated outside mirrors, steering wheel and first- and second-row seats, and wiper deicers.
We also had on our tester the Seven-Passenger Technology Package ($2,950), which brought a Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic moon roof, Starlink eight-inch multimedia navigation and a cargo cover.
All models come with Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. It includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and the new EyeSight Assist Monitor, with a head-up display of the EyeSight system warnings as well as system status, projected on the lower windshield in front of the driver.
The Ascent replaces the seven-passenger Tribeca crossover in Subaru’s U.S. lineup, a vehicle that was introduced as the B9 Tribeca in 2006, later called just the Tribeca, and discontinued after 2014. Tribeca’s last version had a normally aspirated 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder engine with 256 horsepower, connected to a conventional five-speed automatic transmission.
Now, even though the Ascent’s engine has just four cylinders, it’s powerful enough to tow trailers weighing up to 5,000 pounds, along with giving this family size vehicle enough power for everyday driving and cross-country touring. We took a family weekend trip into some mountains, and never did the Ascent feel underpowered.
The Ascent was designed on a strengthened and extended version of the Subaru Global Platform architecture, with extensive use of high-strength steel and a focus on durability, rigidity and vibration resistance. Subaru says.
It’s 196.8 inches long, with a 113.8-inch wheelbase and 153.5 cubic feet of passenger volume – along with up to 72.6 cubic feet of cargo space (with middle- and third-row 60/40-split seatbacks folded).
Our test vehicle came with the Magnetite Gray Metallic exterior paint, and Slate Black perforated-leather upholstery. Other available exterior colors are Abyss Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, Cinnamon Brown Pearl, Crimson Red Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Tungsten Metallic and Crystal White Pearl. Interiors can also be Warm Ivory, depending on the exterior color.
Rear passenger doors open up to 75 degrees for better access to the third-row seat. Standard roof rails allow for carrying items such as bicycles and kayaks.
There are six USB charging ports, and two more can be added for the third row for $230 extra (not included on our tester). There is a 120-volt outlet in the rear of the center console for powering a variety of devices. The interior has 19 cup and bottle holders.
Also included are three-zone automatic climate control with large vents for all three rows. There are reading lights in the second row on all models, and third-row lights on Premium, Limited and Touring trims. Also standard are ambient and foot-well lighting.
Other standard features include 18-inch wheels and four-wheel independent suspension. The Ascent has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is good for light off-road use.
The Limited model includes the leather upholstery, LED Steering Responsive Headlights with High Beam Assist, LED fog lights, second-row retractable sunshades, and 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in dark gray with all season tires.
The Subaru Starlink multimedia systems have multi-touch high-resolution display screens, and include smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Aha and Pandora, along with Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, a backup camera and SiriusXM services.
Entry models have a standard 6.5-inch touch screen, while higher trims come with eight-inch Multimedia Plus and eight-inch Multimedia Navigation systems, depending on the level. In-vehicle Wi-Fi connectivity is available.
The Starlink Connected Services bring remote engine start (on models with pushbutton start, including our Limited); concierge service; anti-theft vehicle immobilizer with flashing vehicle security lights; child-safety functions including geofencing, speed alert and curfew; and over-the-air firmware updates.
The Safety Plus package adds SOS emergency assistance, with enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, monthly vehicle health report, and diagnostic alerts. The Safety Plus & Security Plus upgrade package tacks on stolen-vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights, and remote vehicle locator. Both are included on Limited and Touring models.
Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert were also standard on our Limited model.
Adaptive headlights are standard on Limited and Touring models, and High Beam Assist automatically activates and deactivates the bright lights. The Ascent also offers Reverse Automatic Braking, which can apply the brakes if an obstacle is detected while backing up.
Touring models come with the new Front View Monitor, which gives a 180-degree view of the front of the vehicle on the multi-function display by using a camera in the grille.
Also standard on Touring is the Smart Rearview Mirror, which displays a view from behind the vehicle from a camera mounted above the rear gate glass. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are also included on Touring models.
Touring models have most of the Limited features, along with satin-silver side mirrors with integrated turn signals, chrome door handles, chrome front under guard and rear bumper protector, unique Java Brown leather upholstery; upgraded leather steering wheel; and wood-grain-pattern matte finish accent trim.
With only the one option, plus freight, total sticker price for our new Subaru Ascent Limited was $42,920.
The Ascent received a Top Safety Pick-Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Subaru assembles the Ascent at its only U.S. plant, in Lafayette, Indiana.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2019 Subaru Ascent
The package: Large, seven- or eight-passenger, five-door, turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicle.
Highlights: All new for 2019, this is Subaru’s largest vehicle ever for North America, a family-size three-row crossover with plenty of space, along with decent styling, good performance and excellent safety.
Negatives: Limited cargo space behind third row.
Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged horizontally opposed (boxer-style) four-cylinder, gasoline.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.
Power/torque: 260 HP./277 foot-pounds.
Length: 196.8 inches.
Curb weight range: 4,430-4,603 pounds.
Cargo volume: 17.8 cubic feet (behind third seat); 47.5 cubic feet (third seat folded); 86.5 cubic feet (second and third rows folded).
Towing capacity: 5,000 pounds.
Electronic stability control: Standard, with anti-roll feature.
Side air bags: Seat-mounted front side; side-curtain for all rows.
Fuel capacity/type: 19.3 gallons/unleaded regular.
EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined (18-inch wheels; 20 city/26 highway/22 combined (20-inch wheels).
Base price range: $31,995-$44,695, plus $975 freight.
Price as tested: $42,920, including freight and options (2019 Limited).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.