• 3-row, 8-passenger SUV designed and sized to compete with the leaders
  • Prices likely to start in the low-$30,000 range, in line with the segment
  • 260 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive, of course
  • Available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi and up to 8 USB ports
  • Set to arrive early this summer
  • Subaru lovers now free to have more kids


If you remember Subaru’s previous 3-row effort, the one-and-done B9 Tribeca (2006-2014), forget all that. The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a full-fledged midsize SUV with the specs and skills needed to compete with segment leaders like the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Chevrolet Traverse.

Roomy (Enough) Cabin

While the Ascent has a tad more cargo room behind the third row and measures longer than the Honda Pilot -- a popular benchmark as our 2018 Midsize SUV Best Buy and one of the roomier entries in the segment -- the Subaru falls closer to midpack in overall passenger and cargo volume. But we were able to sit in all three rows at the vehicle’s Los Angeles Auto Show world premiere, and found it acceptably roomy throughout. Having enough room is far more important than having the most room.

A second-row bench and 8-passenger capacity is standard, while all but the base trim offer second-row captain’s chairs as a no-cost option. Exercising that option reduces seating capacity to seven, but the resulting pass-through to the third row is especially valuable for families that have (or will have) two child car-seats or boosters in the second row.

Other interior highlights include a total of 19 bottle and cup holders, as many as eight USB ports and a Smart Rear View Mirror, which can function as a traditional rear view mirror or project an image from a rear-facing camera mounted at the back of the vehicle. In addition to providing a wider field of view, the display is also handy when a car full of people or cargo is blocking the view from the mirror.

Heated seats are available front and rear, and drivers can also upgrade into lumbar support and extendable thigh support (good for the taller folks). A heated steering wheel is also offered, as are ventilated front seats.   

New Engine, New-ish Transmission

The 2019 Subaru Ascent is powered by an all-new, 2.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine (a horizontally opposed boxer unit, as is Subaru’s way), coupled with a new version of Subaru’s continuously variable automatic transmission. From there the motive force is sent to all four corners via Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with the added finesse of active torque vectoring.

Remaining to be seen is how swiftly the new engine moves the big, new Subaru. While 260 horsepower isn’t much to write home about in this segment, 277 lb-ft of peak torque -- all of it available from 2,000-4,800 rpm -- could very well deliver more than enough oomph for civilian duty.

It’s also enough to deliver towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. Helping manage larger loads is available Trailer Stability Assist, incorporating yaw sensors and the ability to brake individual wheels to monitor and mitigate trailer sway. Combined with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, you can tow your big boat off road and in a hurry. But don't. 

Fuel economy figures will likely be announced closer to the Ascent’s summer arrival, but Subaru says it can travel more than 500 miles on a single tank. 

Comprehensive Tech

Like seemingly every all-new vehicle nowadays, the 2019 Subaru Ascent is loaded front to back and top to bottom with advanced comfort, convenience and safety technologies. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included as standard equipment across the line, and the Ascent is the first Subaru to offer in-car, dedicated Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Ascent is also the first Subaru to include the automaker’s EyeSight system as standard equipment, and incorporates a new head-up display. The suite of driver assist technologies includes automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, pre-collision throttle management, and blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. Available Steering Responsive Headlights and High Beam Assist provide enhanced illumination, while Reverse Automatic Braking can stop the vehicle in case an obstacle is detected while reversing. A new Front View Monitor displays a 180-degree view of the area ahead of the vehicle, making it easier to pull further into parking stalls or inch forward out of tight spaces with greater confidence.

Subaru’s comprehensive Starlink tech group offers remote engine start, remote lock/unlock, vehicle locator and a number of collision alert and emergency assistance features. Parents of new drivers will appreciate the the geofencing, speed alert and curfew functions.

Price and Equipment

At its presumed low-$30,000 base price, the 2019 Subaru Ascent will feature an impressive list of standard equipment that includes EyeSight driver assist and safety tech, a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, four USB ports, three-zone automatic climate control and a second-row bench seat for full 8-passenger capacity.

Working up the price ladder, buyers can equip their Ascent with a wide variety of upgrades including heated leather seats, keyless entry and start, panoramic moonroof, power liftgate, blind-spot monitor, built-in Wi-Fi and an 8-inch touchscreen. A fully loaded Ascent will likely run well into mid-$40,000 territory, but most midsize SUV buyers find the right balance of price and features somewhere in the mid-high $30,000 range.

We’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the newest Subaru, and we know plenty of Subaru families are, too.

 

 

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