Subaru again enlivened the big SUV class. One of the major car makers lacking a three-row SUV comes with the tough the 2019 Subaru Ascent. This is not Subaru’s first three-row SUV, since the Tribeca is generally unloved. It quietly slipped out the door five years ago after eight years of low sales, not helped by its small third row and thirst for fuel.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a completely different SUV. With a standard seat for eight passengers, or seven with optional captain seats, the Ascent offers almost 32 inches of third-row legroom, which is about the same as the Honda Pilot. The 86.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space means you will not run out of space for equipment and luggage, while a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine not only efficient but can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Like most Subaru models, the 2019 Ascent is equipped with standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru signature feature that drivers in wet weather states will appreciate. And with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Ascent proves capable on off-road terrain.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is all-new model.
Trim levels and features
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a three-row SUV offered in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and Touring. The base trim level is eight-passenger only. The Premium and the Limited are available with a seven or eight-passenger configuration. The Touring is only available in seven-passenger configuration.
Standard equipment for the base models includes 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, roof rails, tri-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40-split folding second- and third-row seats, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, four USB ports (two in front, two in the second row), and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio. Standard safety features are the Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology, which adaptive cruise control, bundles forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning.
The Ascent Premium adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, spill-resistant cloth upholstery, rear-seat climate controls, and an upgraded multimedia system with an 8-inch touchscreen, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and voice controls as well as towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds.
There are several optional packages for the Premium. The OP 12 package adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless access and ignition, an auto-dimming mirror, a power liftgate with preferred height memory, and reverse automatic braking, which applies the brakes to avoid a collision while in reverse. The OP 14 package includes those features along with 20-inch wheels, a cargo area cover and a navigation system. Choosing one of these packages, making the second-row captain’s chairs become available.
The Ascent Limited include the Premium OP 12 package plus 20-inch wheels, LED foglights, automatic high beams, adaptive LED headlights, additional leather cabin accents, additional driver-seat adjustments, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, rear door sunshades, heated outboard second-row seats, and dual third-row USB ports.
The Limited optional package gets you the panoramic sunroof, cargo cover, navigation system, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.
The Ascent Touring trim bundles the Limited standard and optional features, then adds automatic wipers, chrome exterior accents, a front-view camera display, ambient cabin lighting, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, upgraded leather upholstery, a total of eight USB ports, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and a rearview mirror with a rearview camera image, which allows you see out back even if your view is blocked by passengers or cargo.
Under the hood, the 2019 Subaru Ascent is powered by a new 2.4-liter turbocharged direct injection flat-four engine that produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This engine has a sporting ancestry, as it’s a larger version of the WRX engine. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes with paddle shifters and an 8-speed manual mode, and feels more natural than other CVTs. All-wheel drive is standard across the lineup.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent 4-cylinder turbocharged engine offers a lot of power, which is equal with comparable midsize SUV. Subaru is known to have an easy time getting up to speed and shows no signs of running out of power on grades or winding road. You will have a lot of power to freeway passing maneuvers and getting on the highway, and this engine serves well between power, ability and fuel economy.
In performance testing, the 2019 Subaru Ascent Premium accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and hit quarter mile in 15.5 seconds at speed of 90.9 mph. The Ascent Touring posted a 0-60 mph test in 7.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.8 seconds at 89.2 mph. EPA estimated fuel economy at 23 mpg combined (21 city/27 highway), which is pretty good for a three-row crossover SUV.
Inside, the 2019 Subaru Ascent is warm and friendly, but very practical for seven or eight passengers. Control is a mixture of easy-to-reach buttons and knobs. Amenities include 3-zone climate control, panoramic moonroof and heated seats. Seat materials are cloth, spill-repellent cloth, or leather. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The third-row is easy to access, thanks to the wide open door and low step height. There is enough legroom for children, but it is tight for taller adults, unless second-row passengers shift their seats forward.
The rear seats fold flat, flatter if you choose a standard seat rather than the captain’s chair, and when folded, it creates 87 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s more than the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot. The cargo area has a nice, wide opening that makes loading equipment very easy, as well as an available power liftgate. There is also a storage area under the cargo floor the load floor where you can stow the cargo area cover when it’s not in use.
Release Dates and Price
The 2019 Subaru Ascent is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Key competitors include the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.
The official price for the base Ascent trim starts at $32,970 (include $975 destination charge). The Premium starts at $35,170, while the Limited trim is $39,970. The top-of-the-line Touring trim starts at $45,670.