2019 Subaru Ascent Limited AWD Ride Drive
The new 2019 Subaru Ascent 3-row family mid-size SUV ably gives new life to Subaru brand loyalty in sport utility vehicles.
Subaru, for years a leader in brand loyalty driven, in particular, by their SUV offerings – Crosstrek, Forester and Outback was at risk without a larger vehicle to offer growing families, of losing those customers to other brands.
Crosstrek, served as the Subaru entry vehicle for active lifestyle singles and couples who loved and depended on its toughness, reliability and quality to never fail them around town, on the highway or in the back country.
Then – starting families – those customers graduated to either the Forester (more urban) or the Outback (more back-country) vehicle for the family daily and adventure needs. But as families grew in numbers, age and amount of gear they needed to haul, Subaru had no ‘next’ level (3-row, 8-passenger) to offer the that active family.
They were at risk of losing that customer just as the demand for family-sized SUV’s was surging.
With the introduction of Ascent, now they do.
The 2019 Subaru Ascent, built in the U.S. for the North American market to address the demand for family sized SUVs, the largest vehicle ever built by Subaru, is quickly proving to be the right vehicle, right time and right price.
Based on our recent ride and drive evaluation in Central Texas, we found that Subaru has combined, expanded and then upsized the best features of their popular Forester and Outback vehicles to create the Ascent. With a full week behind the wheel, we think they got it right.
Subaru loyalists appear to think so too. Just a couple of months since launch, Ascent sales were 5,859 units in September and total near 16,000 year to date and growing.
It was a good thing too as September sales slumped overall for Subaru with only Forester producing a month-on-month sales increase. With quick demand for Ascent contributing, Subaru achieved a record 82nd month of sales increases for the brand.
For our ride and drive test, Subaru delivered us a 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited (MSRP $38,995) for evaluation. It came in Ice Silver Metallic with a Slate Black Leather interior and was well-loaded with standard features you would expect plus a few more.
With a couple of key options added, it had a delivered price of just $42,920.
Family Adventuring Capable
We found the new Ascent to have plenty of room for active families and their gear. With the standard bench second row seat, it hauls up to eight in three-rows and still has 17.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. With the third row down, cargo space increases to 47.5 cubic foot.
Note there is also space below the cargo floor for concealing valuables as needed.
The interior styling is ‘Subaru efficient – clean and functionally stylish with carefully thought out purpose such as the contrasting accents running across the dash that also serve as storage. Using high quality easy touch materials and premium level accents – the Ascent Limited presents a luxury-like ambiance in the cabin.
Head and legroom both first and second rows are very good for adults. The third row is a bit tighter suited more so for small folks. Rear doors do open to a wide 75 degrees which – when coupled with the low step-in height – makes access to the third row easier.
As a family ‘adventure’ vehicle, Ascents standard roof rails fit a wide range of accessories for carrying recreational gear like bikes, kayaks, canoes, surfboards and even cargo. For getting a little further into the rough, Ascent has a reasonable ground clearance of 8.7-inches with approach/departure angles of 17.6 / 21.8-degrees respectively.
Ascent tows too. Equipped with Trailer Stability Assist and necessary hitch accessories, it can tow up to 5,000 pounds of camping trailer, family ‘toys’ or other gear.
With a just a daily around town load aboard, we found the powertrain to be very responsive in town and on the highway. Still to be answered is if the CVT and this power plant will be equally responsive with five adults on board plus their gear and towing a trailer of ‘toys’.
All Ascent SUVs are powered by the new 2.4L turbocharged Boxer engine which produces 260 horsepower with 277 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with an 8-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters.
Fuel economy ratings for Ascent are 20/26 mpg city/highway and 22 mpg combined.
Built on the Subaru Global Platform, Ascent Limited features Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with X-Mode, Active Torque Vectoring, Hill Descent Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control with Traction Control.
It is equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Eyesight Driver Assist Technology w/Head Up Monitor, Rear Vision Camera, Blind Spot Detection w/Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert,
Underneath, it uses a four-wheel independent suspension with McPherson-type struts and stabilizer bar up front and double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar at the rear.
Braking is power-assisted 4-wheel ventilated disc (13.1-inch front and 13.0-inch rear) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution. Steering is Electric Power Assisted rack and pinion.
Our Limited was running on the optional 20-inch machine finish alloy wheels in dark gray mounted with 245/60R18 105H rated all-season tires.
Other features on Ascent Limited
Unique features included:
- LED Headlights and LED Fog Lights
- Steering Responsive Automatic Headlights
- Heated mirrors, steering wheel, front and second-row seats and windshield wiper deicer
- Side Cladding in Black with chrome side accents
- Power rear lift gate with automatic close
- Keyless Access with Push Button Start
- Simulated leather center dash trim
- Illuminated front console storage tray and cupholders
- Perforated leather trimmed seating
- 10-way power driver and 4-way passenger seats
- Rear Door Sunshades
- Rear seat automatic climate control panel
- Third row dual USB ports (total of six in the cabin)
- Reverse Automatic Braking
We give it a special call-out for the inclusion of a driver seat manual seat cushion extender. For taller or larger drivers (like us), it is a key to minimizing leg fatigue on long trips.
The optional items included were:
- Panoramic Power Moonroof with dual glass panels and sunshade
- Harman Kardon 14-speaker audio with Quantum Logic Surround Sound amplifier and subwoofer
- StarLInk Multimedia Navigation system with 8-inch high resolution touchscreen, SiriusXM All Access Radio, Traffic and Travel Link, CD Player and more
- Cargo Area Cover (see picture – note the clever storage beneath the cargo floor when not in use)
Loaded with value at every level
Ascent is available in four trim levels starting at MSRP $31,995 for the Base Trim. The Premium MSRP is $34,195, Limited MSRP $38,995 and the more luxury level Touring MSRP $44,695.
Every Ascent is loaded with value features and function. All have Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and X-Mode, EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, Subaru StarLInk Connected Services, a 6.5-inch Multimedia system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Standard also is three zone automatic climate control, power side mirrors, four USB ports, raised roof rails, 19-cupholders, 12-volt outlets in the dash and cargo bay, electronic parking brake, multi-function driver display, auto-stop hold and more.
An additional value note is that all come with second-row bench seat (8-passengers), but when ordering the Premium, Limited and Touring, you can – at no extra charge – have your Ascent delivered with second-row captain chairs instead.
And, just announced, the 2019 Subaru Ascent has been awarded the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) Top Safety Pick+ designation – earning top ‘Good’ ratings in all six crashworthiness tests by IIHS.
Learn more about the 2019 Subaru Ascent here: https://www.subaru.com/vehicles/ascent/index.html