by Tony West and Daryl Payne
The 2019 Subaru Ascent dropped late last year and has been heating up the mid-size SUV segment. With a stylish tech-advanced cabin and robust handling the whip has it all and then some. Both the Subaru Ascent and Subaru Forester recently earned a spot on Parent’s Magazine ‘2019 10 Best Family Cars.’
The new 7 or 8-passenger Subaru Ascent has style inside and out plus amazing performance. Especially the fully-loaded Ascent Touring features tons of new safety technology. And stylish perks inside give the SUV a luxury feeling. The 2019 Ascent retails for just $31k and offers four trims; the base Ascent, the Ascent Plus, Limited and the Ascent Touring we reviewed.
With a new 2.4 liter turbocharged boxer engine, 5,000 lb tow capacity, X-mode, Symmetrical All-wheel drive and standard Eyesight Driver Assist that includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, the new Ascent is the most capable SUV Subaru has ever released and could be one of the most functional new SUVs in the segment.
The three-row SUV, with its 113 inch wheelbase offers a lux cabin with available 2nd row captain’s chairs and Wi-Fi.
Stylish Fun with Plenty of Perks for Family
The new Subaru Ascent has been snatching up awards for the last year. The whip is the most versatile Subaru ever with up to nine unique seating configurations and two rows of 60/40 split flat-folding seats. Second row bench seats are standard. While the Ascent Premium and Ascent Limited offers 2nd row captain’s chairs for no extra charge.
The base Ascent features 18 inch aluminum-alloy wheels with silver finish. The top-of-the-line Ascent Touring Model we reviewed has standard aluminum-alloy wheels in dark chrome with machine finish, C-shaped LED steering responsive headlights, LED fog lights, LED low and high beams and chrome door handles.
The Ascent is sleek, narrow and low with Subaru’s hexagonal grille. It seems huge from the inside with the dual glass power moon roof. But next to a full-size SUV it looks very low and tiny, like a minivan. That turns out to be a great thing as the Ascent still has an 8.7 inch ground clearance with low step in, and is easy to park in tight spaces. A rear spoiler aids swiftness.
Where the Subaru Forester and the Outback have a rugged look that puts their capabilities on display, the Ascent is more of a family vehicle. But it has just as much hutzpah if not more on the road and in bad weather than its cousins. Plus the Ascent is poised for family fun and adventure with up to 86.5 cu.ft. of cargo space and standard roof rails. Doors open 75 degrees and that, along with a steep C-pillar allows for easy access to the third row. Plus there’s no blind spot with the sleek side-view mirror design.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent Touring isn’t just an outstanding SUV under the hood, it’s also a mini condo on wheels. The Ascent Touring features perforated Java Brown leather upholstery with ivory stitching, woodgrain matte trim and leather wrapped steering wheel.
Drivers have heated and ventilated 10-way adjustable perforated leather seats with a stylish rugged design. The good thing about the Ascent Touring is that all the best flair is standard for just $44k. So the cool panoramic moon roof, smart rearview mirror, four USB ports and 19 standard cup holders are standard. Three-zone climate control is also standard as is the power tailgate. Ambient foot well lighting is available.
With the hood low and greenhouse pushed back, drivers sit in optimal comfort with all the controls for first-class at their fingertips. The steering wheel design is well-thought out with controls for audio, voice command, phone and digital combo meter on the left, and buttons for the heat and cruise control on the right. The All Weather package adds heated 2nd row seats. Climate for the 2nd row is operable with the center stack.
Motorsports correspondent Daryl likes the smooth steering wheel and the wraparound dash design with a storage shelf built in. He also likes the grab handles on each side for added ruggedness. He’s a fan of intricately placed controls for convenience features. There’s also this nifty cabin view mirror, a convex mirror that sits where the sunglass holder usually is located. It gives a panoramic view of the entire backseat – great for checking on the kids.
Storage is descent in the Subaru Ascent but the trunk has only 17.6 cu.ft. with the 2nd and 3rd row up. The Ascent is slender and narrow, but rear passengers have ample legroom. Plus it’s easy to get to the 2nd row with the easy pass captain’s chairs. Tall passengers can stretch out in the 3rd row. The Ascent even has custom designed rugged carpeting that fits perfectly and is easy to clean.
The panoramic dual glass moon roof is great, as is the 2nd row retractable sunshades. But the Ascent takes forever to heat up – no bueno in the harsh Chicago winter. Maybe it’s because of the fabric roof or poor insulation. The center console area is great too, but it seems like the shifter is too small and too low for a long armed-person.
Lighting in the Ascent is great with welcome lighting, reading lights for front and back, ice blue dials in the instrument cluster and foot well lighting.
The center stack includes a big 8 inch high res touchscreen for StarLink Navigation, a backup and forward view camera, Apple Carplay, Android Auto, Blutetooth, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Traffic and TravelLink. The forward camera is great, backup camera display is vivid.
The Navigation is detailed showing buildings, speed, compass and street names. Also dope is a multifunction display, a small screen in dash above the center stack that shows vehicle and road stats. It’s customizable with buttons above the center touchscreen. The multifunction display has a wealth of driver stats like average fuel consumption, average speed, engine oil, vehicle posture, speed limit, calendar, weather, vehicle direction, accelerator opening ratio, and most important the X-mode indicator.
StarLink infotainment features Sirius XM All Access and voice activated navigation powered by TomTom. The Ascent Touring offers a standard 14-speaker audio system.
Phenomenal Performance Powerful and Pristine
Once the little ones are out of the Ascent parents can push the tranquil truck to the limit. Not only does the Ascent glide down the road with careful smooth precision in any condition, it can dial up the aggression from its 2.4 liter boxer engine.
The highly effective Boxer engine is the Ascent’s best feature amongst amazing features. It packs a refined punch, and thanks to a combination of direct injection, high compression, Subaru’s Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS), a twin scroll turbocharger and intercooler also achieves high efficiency.
The subtle more sophisticated design of the exterior of the Ascent contrasts well with the rugged interior and the versatile performance to make the Ascent a well-rounded SUV. It boasts a 22 mpg combined EPA (26 mpg highway / 20 mpg city.) And the turbo engine can get aggressive with 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and a broad torque curve that peaks at 277 lb-ft of torque over a 2,000 – 4,000 mile range.
All five Ascent models have the same Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission with 8 speed manual mode as well as steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and X-mode with Hill Descent Control. Daryl thinks the marriage of the turbo engine and CVT gives the Ascent a smoothness that doesn’t feel like an SUV but rather a sophisticated sedan. When he hit the gas, the responsive Ascent silently spools up and jets!
X-mode that features Hill Descent Control gives added traction and control on slippery surfaces. We learned it first hand as the Ascent glided over ice and snow with little wheel slip. When there was some slippage, the Ascent was like “I got you,” and gently corrected the tires. Because of this, Daryl was more confident turning and stopping in harsh weather.
Subaru’s infamous Symmetrical All-wheel drive offers top-notch handling and works harmoniously with robust 4-wheel independent suspension and Active Torque Vectoring. Turning and cornering in the Ascent is smooth at nearly every speed. Control isn’t lost and the Ascent even seems to gain a little force out of a turn thanks to Active Torque Vectoring. Aggressive launch feels more like a sporty sedan than a 3-row SUV. Braking is spot-on.
Safety Features Work Double Duty
The 2019 Subaru Ascent’s safety feature aren’t plentiful, but they all work dual duties to keep SUV in check. Trailer Stability Assist uses yaw sensors to monitor trailer sway. If needed, the Ascent can brake individual wheels to stabilize. If the SUV crosses its lane accidently, Lane Keep Assist will apply slight steering correction and push the wheels back in their lane. Also standard with the Ascent Touring are safety features like Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control.
The all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent has standard Eyesight Driver Assist Technology that includes Automatic Pre Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning and Pre Collision Throttle Management.
An Eyesight Assist Monitor gives a visual display of the Eyesight System warnings on the windshield. If the Ascent trails too close to the lane divider, there will be two yellow dots that appear on the windshield that’ll blink red for the pre collision braking system if a front collision is possible.
Subaru StarLink Connected Services includes remote start and child safety functions including geofencing speed alert and curfew. An available Safety Plus package offers roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, diagnostics and more. And the available Safety Plus Package adds security alarm notification and remote functions.
The Ascent retails starting at $31,995 – the same price as crossovers half its size. The fully-loaded Ascent Touring retails for $44,695 and can complete wheel to windshield with lux SUVs from Lexus, Lincoln and Volvo. The best part is the Ascent has amazing handling and resilience to match its stunning look. Professionals, adventurers, big families and CEOs alike can appreciate the supreme versatility of the Subaru Ascent.