When Subaru entered the Big SUV space with it’s Tribeca, people were looking forward to it with great expectations, but there was one chunk in the armor, as people did not want to buy it. the Tribeca for its unusual styling wasn’t accepted by the consumers in any way, Half a decade later, Subaru second-attempt, the Ascent is here in its full glory and is ready now more than ever to wreak havoc in the SUV segment.
Subaru's latest and by far it's biggest model till date is packed with top of the line driver assistance features or technology. The 2020 Ascent despite the competition, stands amidst them with a meaningful stature backed with the Subaru heritage. It has a great powertrain, has a solid built quality, and has been awarded the Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS, moreover, you get 19 cup-holders inside, what more do you want. That is a win in our books.
Launched in 2019, the Ascent replaced the Slow Selling Tribeca and comes in with a whole plethora of features and massive space on the inside. The Ascent comes powered by a 2.4L Boxer 4 Turbocharged motor and comes with AWD as standard across the range. The 4 trims on offer include the Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. For 2020, Subaru is introducing 2 new features in the Ascent. The Ascent now gets Rear Seat Reminder function and Power Rear Gate Lock function as standard across all the 4 trims.
Prices for the Ascent range from $31,995 to over $45,000. Talking of the rivals of the Ascent, there is a lot in the segment. The Note-worthy rivals to the Ascent include the Honda Pilot, the newly redesigned Ford Explorer and the All-New Kia Telluride.
7.5/10 Engine and Performance
8.0/10 Fuel Economy
2020 Subaru Ascent Features
The Subaru Ascent is available in four trim levels – Ascent base, Premium, Limited and Touring. The base trim comes accomplished with standard AWD, tri-zone climate control and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Premium trim adds rear-seat climate controls and towing capacity is increased to 5,000 lbs.
Subaru Starlink Multimedia with Apple Car Play and Android Auto
Includes Ascent's features and adds -
Includes Ascent Premium's features and adds -
Includes Ascent Limited's features and adds -
Flexible 3 Row Seating for 8
Available 2nd Row Bench Seats/ Captain Chairs
Java Brown Leather-Trimmed upholstery
4G LTE Connectivity
Power Rear Gate
Starlink Multimedia Navigation
18” Alloy Wheels
Subaru Starlink Safety and Security
20” Alloy Wheels
Panoramic Power moonroof
Eyesight Driver Assist Technology
Rear Climate Control with Front Heated Seats
Heated Second Row Seats with 10 Way Powered Driver Seat and Memory
14 Speaker 792W Harman Kardon Audio System
Keyless Access with push-button Start
180 Degree Front view monitor
The Limited trim increases the premium-factor by offering leather trim upholstery and keyless access with push-button start. Touring trim takes it to another level with heated and ventilated seats, premium Harman Kardon audio system and a standard power moonroof.
Which trim to go for?
The Premium trim adds to the base variant with features like Climate Control in the rear seats, 4G LTE connectivity, and Subaru Starlink Security. Considering this and a price hike of just $3,000, you are getting a lot of value and which is why it’s the trim to go for.
2020 Subaru Ascent Engine and Performance
The base model of the Ascent is powered by a Subaru special boxer-four engine that belts out 260 hp and a healthy 277 lb-ft. of torque. All the power is transferred to the wheels via a CVT automatic transmission. Unlike the competition, this Subaru comes with a standard AWD system.
One major positive about this engine is its early torque delivery. Getting off the line with the Ascent would be a no-drama affair. Even with a full load of passengers and cargo, this engine has enough grunt to easily merge with the highway traffic or get off the line from the stoplight. Whether you are hustling around the town or on a weekend getaway, this engine has got your back.
2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder
3.5-liter Naturally Aspirated V6
2.3L Turbocharged Ecoboost Inline-4
3.8L GDI 24 Valve V6
10 Speed Automatic
8 Speed Automatic
Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer beat the Subaru Ascent at the horsepower game. When we talk about the base variants, the Subaru Ascent is outclassed by its competition. As we talk about torque, Subaru takes an obvious lead with its turbocharged boxer engine’s 277 lb.-ft. torque output.
How good is the acceleration of the Subaru Ascent?
Don’t expect any big surprises here. The Ascent with its turbo spooled up does considerably well for a three-row crossover SUV. Ascent achieves its 0-60 within 6.9 seconds and runs through the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds. Subaru uses a CVT in favor of increasing fuel efficiency but unlike other CVTs in this segment. This CVT works well and comes with 8 electronically programmed ‘shift’ points.
2.4-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder
3.5-liter Naturally Aspirated V6
2.3L Inline-4 Turbocharged Ecoboost
3.8L Gasoline Direct Injection V6
Honda Pilot takes the lead with its 6.2-second naught to sixty runs. Honda’s 6.2-second run is followed by Subaru’s 6.9-second. And finally, the Kia Telluride takes the longest 8.2 seconds to achieve a similar speed.
Is the ride and handling, as good as other Subarus?
The Subaru Ascent offers a compliant ride. The Ascent’s suspension can easily level out the impact of road undulations. With comfort being Subaru’s priority here. This Subaru is a little shy of the corners. The steering isn’t the best out there, but it adequately transfers feedback to the driver. The steering is light to use in city conditions and it also does not come off as vague or hesitant. So, maneuvering your Ascent in the city wouldn’t be too much of a task.
When you are driving the Subaru Ascent, it wouldn’t feel like a large 3-row Crossover. Like its smaller cousin, the Subaru Outback, Ascent benefits from a well-engineered driving ergonomics. The visibility, both front, and rear is good. It surely gives the Ascent an edge over the competition.
Does it stop as well as it accelerates?
The Subaru Ascent is equipped with the largest front and rear disc brakes in its class. Ascent comes with four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard. Under emergency braking, Ascent comes to a halt from 60 mph within 117 feet. Like other SUVs, nose dive is evident but it never gets unsettling or nerve-wracking. You have enough stopping power at all times and there isn't much, to complain about the braking of the Ascent.
Brake Rotors Front
Brake Rotors Rear
108 ft (With optional tires)
The Ford Explorer manages to score an impressive stopping distance of 108 ft. Although it does achieve the same with optional stickier tires. Honda Pilot’s estimated braking distance is 118 ft and it matches the Telluride’s braking distance as well.
What is the Subaru Ascent's Towing Capacity?
One of the important selling points for these new breed 3-row CUV’s is their versatility. Come the weekend and the duty calls for trailering equipment. Subaru has an advantage over the rest –a standard AWD system that helps it rival the best in this segment even with its puny 2.4-liter engine. The Subaru Ascent can tow 5000 lbs. of equipment.
All SUVs other than the Honda Pilot can tow 5000lbs or more. However, KIA will feel the most stress-free of the lot, owing to its 3.8L turbocharged motor.
Subaru Ascent uses a CVT automatic transmission which helps its case in offering a slightly better fuel economy than the competition. Ascent is rated for 21 mpg in city driving conditions and 27 mpg on highways. The combined mpg stands at 23 for the base model of the Ascent. Overall, with a massive 19.3-gallon fuel tank, you can expect a minimum of 400 miles of full tank range on the Subaru.
(Tons/yr. of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
When you compare the Subaru with its rivals, you will find that the Ford Explorer, comes the closest both in terms of range and MPG figures. That's owing to the well-optimized transmission and lightweight materials on use. The Honda and the Kia, both lose out to the top 2, owing to their slightly lesser efficient powertrains.
2020 Subaru Ascent Interior
The biggest Subaru ever – the Ascent offers segment-leading interior space. Ascent offers the segment-best passenger volume of 153.5 cu-ft. The cabin is spacious enough and offers a good number of cubby spaces. Starting with a total number of 19 cup holders distributed throughout the cabin, 14 in the first two rows and 5 in the third row.
The Ascent has a welcoming interior. The quality of plastics is not upscale but neither does it feel cheap. Ascent maintains a level of consistency that is pleasing to the eye. The seats are comfortable and offer decent support in all the 3 rows.
The Subaru Ascent offers to seat for 8 people at the base trim level. Second-row seats can be easily flipped to make a passage to the third-row seats. Ingress and egress to the third-row seats isn’t a chore even for taller passengers. You can also opt for a 7 seater version with Captain chairs, for added comfort and convenience.
First Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
Second Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
40/ 60.3/ 38.6
Third Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
On paper, the Subaru Ascent doesn’t offer the best in the segment numbers but it doesn’t stray away from the segment-leaders by much. The Honda Pilot despite its shorter wheelbase and the Ford Explorer, rake in the best space on the inside and are marginally ahead of the Kia as well.
What about the Infotainment system?
Subaru has updated the infotainment system of the Ascent for 2020. The interface is mostly slick to use and intuitive as well. Sunlight legibility is decent as well and most of the buttons, fall into hands easily. There is plenty of features to keep you accompanied on your long boring drives. Rest assured, those drives won't ever be as dull as before.
The Infotainment system includes the following few features-
8” Touchscreen Infotainment System with navigation
14 Speaker Harman Kardon music system
Dual USB ports in all 3 rows
4G LTE Wi-Fi capability
Android Auto, Apple CarPlay
180 Degree Front View Monitor
What is the Subaru Ascent's Cargo Capacity?
The Ascent offers generous cargo capacity and ranks well in this segment. At 17.8 cu.-ft., Ascent’s cargo space behind the third row is second only to Ford Explorer. Fold the second row and you will have 47.5 cu-ft. of cargo space. Fold both the rows and the total cargo area increases to 86.5 cu-ft. When we consider maximum cargo capacity, the Ascent offers the maximum in this comparison.
On the inside, the Subaru feels roomy and spacious as we have seen previously. However, with all the space, you do have plenty of creature comforts on offer as well that can be useful on a lot of occasions. The notable highlights include the following few features
Power Adjustable Front Seats
Heated and Ventilated Front Seats
Heated Second Row Seats and Steering Wheel
Power Rear Gate
Second Row Captain/Bench Seats
Leather Upholstery and Wrapped Steering
Smart auto-dimming rearview compass mirror with HomeLink
Auto-up / auto-down driver's and front passenger window with anti-pinch protection
Speaking of the dimensions and the weight, the Ascent feels the same as the other big crossovers in the segment. The Subaru Ascent makes sure to complement luxury and utmost comfortness with its sheer size. In terms of weight, the Subaru is the heaviest among its rivals and offers the most ground clearance among the same. This gives it an unprecedented advantage while off-roading and going over potholes. A lower width when compared to its rivals, makes it a jiffy for drivers to maneuver the Ascent through the city or when parking in tight spaces.
The Explorer is the longest of all in the segment and is followed by the other 3. The Honda Pilot has the least Ground Clearance of the lot and is the most prone to fail while water wading or while moving over bumps. Also, it compromises on the wheelbase front and thus eats away the passenger rear legroom inside.
What are the most notable features on the Outside?
With its more than pleasing and plush interior, Subaru had to make sure that the exterior of the Ascent is as complimenting to the interior as possible, and they have done so by making it seem rugged from all corners. Subaru is offering a number of features on the outside of the 2020 Ascent, that will surely grab the eyeballs of the onlookers. The notable highlights include
20" Dark Gray machine finish alloys
LED Steering responsive headlights and foglights
Satin-chrome power folding ORVM's with turn indicators
The Subaru Ascent focuses a lot on safety, it comes equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system across all the trim levels. This system combines adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist. Subaru also offers its Starlink Connected Services standard on all models except the base model.
Ascent scores an overall 5-star rating from NHSTA and also scores well on the tests conducted by IIHS, so good in fact, that the IIHS has named the SUV as a Top Safety Pick for the year 2020.
The Subaru Ascent is equipped with the following safety features:
Honda Pilot is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 280 hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. Pricing for the Honda Pilot starts at $31,450. Honda Pilot has been one of the best vehicles in this segment. Honda Pilot is a can't go wrong decision in the three-row utilitarian SUV market.
When compared to the Subaru Ascent, the Pilot has a bigger engine as standard but it can’t match the towing and hauling capacity of the Ascent’s turbo-four engine which has better low-end torque. Moreover, the Ascent has better ground clearance, passenger volume, and cargo capacity. Choosing one between the two can be hard but if it was our money we would definitely choose the Ascent because it offers a powertrain that is more refined and is hassle-free, unlike Honda’s V6.
With the All-New Subaru Ascent, Subaru is taking another shot at the hotly contested Big SUV segment. The Ascent comes with terrific road manners, is spacious on the inside, packs in plenty of driver aids as standard and feels premium to be driven in. Couple that with Subaru’s reliability and low cost of ownership and you won’t be disappointed with what Subaru has achieved. While the Ford Explorer and the Kia Telluride offer something more than the Subaru in some areas, as an overall package, the Ascent comes in as a good buy and worth a visit to your nearest Subaru dealership.