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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 is a bit tight

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

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2019 Toyota Highlander

Starting Price: $32,625 | Price Yours

Above Average: Toyota build quality and reliability; strong V6 engine and optional hybrid;

Below Average: Base 4-cylinder is underpowered; step up to the V6 or the hybrid. Lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Consensus: As to be expected from Toyota, the Highlander does everything very well. It offers a range of engines (we think you should skip the 4-cylinder in lieu of the V6 or hybrid), optional all-wheel drive, and plenty of seating for seven or eight passengers, depending on configuration. It offers the latest safety features and a strong, muscular look. If there’s one knock against it, it’s that it doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility.
 

The 3-row SUV segment’s been heating up of late, with new models joining the crowded field, including the 2019 Subaru Ascent. It brings everything Subaru is known for, including sporty performance and available all-wheel drive, and includes a suite of safety and comfort features. Toyota’s Highlander has been in the game for quite a while, so it only receives mild updates for 2019, although that still doesn’t include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although it does have Bluetooth connectivity. Both offer seating for seven (with second row captain’s chairs) or eight (with the middle row bench) and plenty of cargo capacity.

Similarities

Nearly identical starting price; all-wheel drive (standard on Ascent, optional on Highlander); both come standard with good safety technology; seven- or eight-passenger capacity.

Subaru Ascent Advantages

More fun to drive; much more power in base trim; sharper looks.

Toyota Highlander Advantages

Optional V6 and hybrid models; Toyota reliability; does everything well.

Final Recommendation

As much as we think the Ascent will be a contender in this segment, we give the nod to the Highlander for its reliability, durability and resale. The Ascent is a bit more fun to drive, and Subaru buyers tend to stay loyal to their brand, so it does have a lot to recommend it. But whereas the Ascent only comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder, the Highlander is offered in a wider variety of trim levels and options, including both a strong V6 and a hybrid.

  2019 Subaru Ascent 2019 Toyota Highlander
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.4-liter I4, turbocharged 2.7-liter I4
Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,600 rpm 185 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque 277 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission CVT automatic Automatic, 6-Spd
Fuel Economy 23 mpg (21 city, 27 hwy) 22 mpg (20 city, 24 hwy)
Also Available   3.5-liter V6, 3.5-liter V6 with electric motor (hybrid)
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 109.8 inches
Overall Length 196.8 inches 192.5 inches
Width 76.0 inches 75.8 inches
Height 71.6 inches 68.1 inches
Turning Diameter 38.0 feet n/a
Headroom, Front 41.3 inches 40.7 inches
Headroom, 2nd Row 40.0 inches 39.9 inches
Headroom, 3rd Row 36.3 inches 35.9 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 44.2 inches
Legroom, 2nd Row 38.6 inches 38.4 inches
Legroom, 3rd Row 31.7 inches 27.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 61.1 inches 59.3 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd 60.3 inches 59.6 inches
Shoulder Room, 3rd Row 57.2 inches 55.0 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 153.5 cu. ft. 158.7 cu. ft.
Cargo Volume 86.5 cu. ft. 83.7 cu. ft.
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