New 2019 Subaru Ascent SUV New 2019
Subaru Ascent SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent is everything you would want in a 3-row SUV: comfort, quality, practicality and safety, with a helping of sportiness. Subaru has long appealed to smaller families and empty-nesters, but had to watch as even the most dyed-in-the-wool Subaru fans went elsewhere when their families grew and their needs changed. Now, Subaru loyalists can stay put and buyers that couldn’t consider Subaru before now have an appealing new choice. The Ascent is a well-designed midsize SUV with the interior space, versatility and smart touches that make it a viable competitor with the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

The roomy Ascent has a versatile, nicely crafted interior with plenty of upscale tech and comfort amenities, and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Ascent is also a sportier offering than most other midsize SUVs on the market, and, in true Subaru form, comes standard with all-wheel drive.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

There is only one engine available on the 2019 Subaru Ascent, so those who want more power or a hybrid variant will have to look elsewhere. Also, if tall adults use the third row all the time, there are roomier 3-row SUVs that can better accommodate the rearmost passengers.

What's New for 2019

The Ascent is an all-new vehicle for 2019. It blends what people like about Subaru -- sporty attitude, high-quality interior, and loads of practicality -- with the versatility and roominess that midsize SUV shoppers are looking for. Clever interior touches and a fun-to-drive spirit separate it from the rest of the pack.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The Subaru Ascent’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers plenty of power -- 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, which is in line with comparable midsize SUVs. The Subaru had an easy time getting up to speed and showed no signs of running out of steam on grades or twisty roads. You’ll have plenty of power for freeway passing maneuvers and getting on the highway, and this engine serves as a good compromise between power, capability and fuel economy. Straight-line driving is relaxed and comfortable, the interior is quiet, and the seats have the right support for use on day-long drives. Visibility is quite good in all directions, plus the A-pillar is narrow enough to make room for a larger glass area, which allows the driver to see more of the road at the front corners. The new Ascent also shows signs of sportiness, with its handling, steering and braking. On twisty roads, the handling and quick steering response make this 3-row SUV feel agile, like a smaller vehicle. Braking is also quite good, responsive without being touchy, and there's no mushy pedal feel.

Favorite Features

ADVANCED SAFETY
Standard EyeSight Driver Assist includes lane departure and sway warning, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision braking and throttle management. Also available are blind-spot detection with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a front-view monitor, and a smart rearview mirror with a camera that shows you what’s behind the vehicle even when your rearward sightlines are blocked.

SMART INTERIOR FEATURES
The Ascent was designed to please all three rows of passengers. There are 19 cup holders, USB ports available for every row, and standard 3-zone climate control. In addition, the rear doors open 75 degrees and there are bullet-train inspired grab handles, making it easy to get into every row.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The interior is warm and welcoming, yet highly practical in the 7- or 8-passenger Ascent. Controls are a mix of easy-to-reach buttons and knobs. Niceties include 3-zone climate control (standard), seat heaters, and a panoramic moonroof. Seat materials are either cloth, spill-repellent cloth, or leather. Apple CarPlay is standard. The third row is easy to access, thanks to doors that open wide and a pleasantly low step-in height. There’s enough knee room for kids, but it’s tight for taller adults -- unless you politely ask a 2nd-row passenger to slide their seat forward.

The rear seats basically fold flat -- flatter if you opt for the regular bench instead of the more-bolstered captain’s chairs -- and when folded, create room for more than 86 cubic feet of cargo. That’s more volume than in the Highlander, Explorer and Pilot. The cargo area has a nice, wide opening that makes loading gear a snap, as well as an available power liftgate. There’s even a storage cubby under the load floor where you can stow the cargo area cover when it’s not in use.

Exterior

When you see an Ascent, you will know right away it’s a Subaru. It’s larger than an Outback, but the proportions and shape are similar. There are four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited and Touring. Roof rails and 18-inch wheels are standard; 20-inch wheels are available. Limited and higher Ascents have LED headlights and fog lights, plus lower door cladding with chrome accents. Touring models add side mirrors in satin silver, chrome door handles, and a chrome front skidplate. The Ascent’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance give the SUV a confident stance and plenty of height for moderate off-roading.

Notable Standard Equipment

The base Ascent comes with 8-passenger seating, manually-adjusted seats, keyless start, and 3-zone climate control. Subaru’s EyeSight advanced safety system, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, and pre-collision braking, and throttle management, is a part of every Ascent’s suite of safety equipment. On the tech and connectivity side, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 6.5-inch multimedia touch screen, and four USB ports are standard. Roof rails and 18-inch wheels highlight the exterior.

Notable Optional Equipment

You can opt for blind-spot detection with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, LED lighting, panoramic moonroof, heated side mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, 20-inch wheels, and a power liftgate. Inside, you can step up to a choice of spill-repellent cloth or leather seats, power-adjustable heated and ventilated seats, and captain’s chairs in the second row. On the tech side, Wi-Fi, navigation, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, up to six USB ports, and an 8-inch screen are offered. An available smart rearview mirror uses a camera to show you what’s behind your vehicle, even when the rear window is blocked (like when your Ascent is full of camping gear).

Under the Hood

The Ascent comes with one engine and one transmission, but the good news is they work well together. The engine has a sporting pedigree, as it’s a larger version of a WRX engine. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) comes with paddle shifters and an 8-speed manual mode, and feels more natural than other CVTs on the market. Power numbers are comparable to other midsize SUVs. All Ascents come standard with all-wheel drive, so the only difference in fuel economy is based on trim level. Limited and Touring models have more equipment and therefore weigh more than the base and Premium, which causes fuel economy to drop by one mile per gallon.

2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4
260 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
277 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg, 20/26 mpg (Limited/Touring)

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Pricing Notes

The 2019 Subaru Ascent starts at $32,970, and the top-of-the-line Touring starts at $45,670 (pricing includes destination). Base model pricing is similar to that of the all-wheel-drive equipped base models of the Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9. If you’re considering the Touring trim level of the Ascent, which is the best way to get uplevel comfort and safety features, pricing is right in line with the Highlander, Pilot, Pathfinder and CX-9. When it comes to 5-Year Cost to Own and resale value, Subaru has a very strong reputation, and we anticipate that trend will continue with the Ascent.

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