The 2019 Subaru Ascent AWD – Subaru’s first three-row SUV – made its debut at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. The Ascent, due to arrive mid-year 2018, joins the Crosstrek, Forester and Outback family of utility vehicles that have been the darling of both family and adventuring owners for years.

Until now, their near-legendary lineup of two-row offerings has solidly anchored Subaru’s position in the utility vehicle segment.  However, with the market demand for SUV and CUV vehicles continuing to heat up, Subaru was only getting their share of that growth in two-rows, missing out on the growing popularity for three-rows because they did not have one.

Now (for 2019) they do and we think at first look – the new Subaru Ascent is a pretty good one.

Family Focus Plus

Subaru tells us the new Ascent is ‘family focused’.  Yes, but we think it is more.  We would add that we also see a whole lot of ‘adventuring’ in this new three-row SUV from Subaru.  So, pardon us as we refer to it as a ‘family focused adventuring’ vehicle.

The biggest utility vehicle Subaru has ever built, the 2019 Ascent appears to include all of the elements necessary for family comfort and convenience including room for eight and cargo, lots of technology, highway prowess with back country capability and best of all – Subaru’s reputation for safety, longevity and durability – or in simpler terms – Subaru DNA.

Built on the new Subaru Global Platform, the Ascent’s exterior – a bit bigger with a commanding presence – is still a Subaru with the signature hexagonal grille and C-shaped headlights.  Prominent wheel arches with cladding emphasize Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and give the impression that the new Ascent not only looks rugged and capable, but probably actually is.

The Ascent offers three rows of seating with nine unique seating configurations with two rows of flat-folding bench seats offering up to 72.6 cubic feet of cargo space. The standard roof rails allow for a number of accessories for carrying items such as bicycles and kayaks. And if you need to bring along a trailer to complete your adventure, Ascent tows up to 5,000 pounds.

Premium and above trims offer second row (at no-cost) optional captain’s chairs that provide easier access to the third-row. Wide rear doors that open to 75-degrees and steep C-pillar angles plus low entrance point allow easy access for both second and third row passengers.

Performance and Capability

All trim levels of the 2019 Ascent come equipped standard with the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, 18-inch wheels and four-wheel independent suspension, Active Torque Vectoring and a decent 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Under the hood is 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 produce 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 277 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 2,000-4,800-rpm.

The engine is mated to an updated high-torque Lineartronic CVT with an 8-speed manual mode function, steering wheel paddle shifters, Hill Descent Control and X-Mode to manage throttle, transmission, all-wheel drive and the Vehicle Dynamics System under challenging road conditions.

Four Trim Levels

The 2019 Subaru Ascent is offered in four well-appointed four trim levels.  All models are equipped with Subaru Starlink In-Vehicle Technology including multi-media device and systems integration, Connected Services access and Safety Plus package.

Base

Subaru’s award-winning Eyesight Driver Assist Technology comes standard on all Ascent models starting with the Base.  Other standard features include: 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with silver finish; 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); multi-function display and Subaru’s Auto Vehicle Hold.

There is plenty more including, what may be a most-in-segment, 19-cup and bottle holders.

Premium

The Premium adds tow capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in gray with machine finish; blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; power driver seat; 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen; Wi-Fi connectivity; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle; rear seat climate controls; All-Weather Package with heated exterior mirrors, 3-mode heated front seats and windshield wiper de-icer.

Options on the Premium include second-row captain’s chairs (7-passenger); Reverse Automatic Braking; 20-inch dark gray with machine finish wheels; panoramic moonroof; power rear gate; Keyless Access with Push-Button Start and 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation.

Limited

The Limited adds leather-trimmed upholstery, LED Steering Responsive Headlights with High Beam Assist, LED fog lights, new second-row retractable sunshades and runs on 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in dark gray with machine finish – mounted with 245/50 R20 all season tires. Other standard features include lower door cladding with chrome accents and side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The Reverse Automatic Braking; power rear gate and Keyless Access with Push-Button Start are standard on the Limited.

We noted that the Limited features driver’s seat adjustable thigh support (power extensions) which we personally find extremely helpful on long drives.

Touring

Touring adds lots of premium touches like satin silver side mirrors, chrome door handles, chrome front under guard and rear bumper protector. On the inside are Java Brown leather seats with three-mode ventilated driver and front passenger seats, upgraded leather steering wheel and woodgrain-pattern matte finish accent trim.

Also, standard on Touring are the SUBARU STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system, Harman Kardon premium audio system with 14 speakers, panoramic power moonroof; rain-sensing wipers, a total of eight UBS ports and 120-volt power outlet; a unique Smart Rear-View Mirror and a 180-degree front-view camera – great for off-road adventuring.

Last Words

Until we get our first drive in with the new Subaru Ascent, we won’t be able to confirm how good it is.

The segment is full of very able three-row competitors including the likes of the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Explorer, Mazda CX 9, Toyota Highlander, Volkswagen Atlas, Nissan Pathfinder, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse.

But then again, the 2019 Ascent is a Subaru.  With that advantage, we expect it to stand up well against the rest.

Model pricing along with package and accessory detail will be made available closer to launch.

The 2019 Ascent is to be built at the Subaru manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Indiana.

Learn more about the Ascent by clicking here:  https://www.subaru.com/ascent

Learn more about the current Subaru lineup – including Crosstrek, Forester and Outback – by clicking here:    https://www.subaru.com/