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2019 Subaru Ascent

Starting Price: $32,970 | Price Yours

Above Average: Standard all-wheel drive; sporty; high-quality interior; good handling on twisty roads.

Below Average: Only one engine choice; no hybrid offering; third row’s a little tight.

Consensus: The brand-new 2019 Ascent marks Subaru’s foray into the large 3-row SUV realm, bringing with it everything Subaru is known for: comfort, sporty attitude, and able performance both on- and off-road. It’s comfortable and offers plenty of advanced safety technology. There is only one engine choice, however, but it offers plenty of power both on the highway and on hills.
 

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2019 Ford Explorer

Starting Price: $33,360 | Price Yours

Above Average: Choice of three powerful engines; wide variety of both safety and infotainment features.

Below Average: Not a first choice for off-roading; not significantly changed in 10 years; low scores in IIHS offset crash tests

Consensus: This generation of Explorer has been around nearly 10 years, with a significant update on the horizon. That said, the Explorer is a solid, strong 3-row SUV with plenty of space and loads of technology and a variety of powerful engine choices. While it offers all-wheel drive, there are better choices for off-roading.
 

The 3-row SUV segment’s been heating up of late, with new players joining the crowded field, including the 2019 Subaru Ascent. It brings everything Subaru is known for, including sporty performance and standard all-wheel drive, and includes a suite of safety and comfort features. The Explorer’s an old dog in this segment, having existed in one form or another since 1990 and in its current iteration since 2011. It’s comfortable and roomy, with a ride geared more toward comfort, and while it does offer all-wheel drive, there are others in the segment (including the Ascent) that are better choices off road.

Similarities

Neither has a hybrid option; both offer lots of technology and connectivity options; sharp styling.

Subaru Ascent Advantages

Better choice if you’re going off-road; sportier, better handling.

Ford Explorer Advantages

Much more power, even with the base engine; more engine options.

Final Recommendation

The 2019 Ascent is Subaru’s first foray in this segment, against the well-established Explorer. The final choice really comes down to what your needs are. Both offer sharp looks, plenty of infotainment, and three rows of seating. The Subaru offers only one engine choice, a punchy turbocharged 4-cylinder, whereas the Explorer offers three robust engine choices, including a V6 even in the base model. And then there’s the question of how it’s meant to be used. While the Explorer is a great boulevard cruiser, the Ascent continues Subaru’s tradition of off-road prowess and is also definitely a sharper handler when the road turns twisty.

  2019 Subaru Ascent 2019 Ford Explorer
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.4-liter I4, turbocharged 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,600 rpm 290 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm 255 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission CVT automatic Automatic, 6-Spd
Fuel Economy 23 mpg (21 city, 27 hwy) 20 mpg (17 city, 24 hwy)
Also Available   2.3-liter I4, turbocharged; 3.5-liter V6, twin-turbocharged
Specs    
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 8 8
Wheelbase 113.8 inches 112.6 inches
Overall Length 196.8 inches 198.3 inches
Width (w/mirrors) 86.1 inches 90.2 inches
Height 71.6 inches 70.0 inches
Turning Diameter 38.0 feet 39.2 feet
Headroom, Front 41.3 inches 41.4 inches
Headroom, 2nd Row 40.0 inches 40.6 inches
Headroom, 3rd Row 36.3 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 42.9 inches
Legroom, 2nd Row 38.6 inches 39.5 inches
Legroom, 3rd Row 31.7 inches 33.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 61.1 inches 61.5 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd Row 60.3 inches 61.0 inches
Should Room, 3rd Row 57.2 inches 50.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 153.5 cu. ft. 151.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume 86.5 cu. ft. 81.7 cu. ft.
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