A comfy, practical—if not sporty handling—SUV.
Since the demise of the odd-looking Tribeca in 2014, Subie fans haven’t been able to choose a vehicle with more people-carrying or towing capacity than an Outback or Forester. But 2019 brings the debut of the midsize Ascent, built in Indiana.
It features much of the same exterior design language as the Outback and Forester—conservative but handsome. Inside, the Ascent is the epitome of function, with instrumentation and controls notable for their logical layout and ease of use. (Why can’t all vehicles be this good?) Interior fitments are nicely crafted. Second-row seating on either a bench or a pair of captain’s chairs is spacious, but third-row seating—well, not so much.
The Ascent’s ride is civilized, and interior noise levels are low. Its novel, horizontally opposed engine has only 4 cylinders, but they provide brisk acceleration and enough power to tow up to 5,000 pounds. As with most other Subies, AWD is standard equipment. So, too, is a suite of advanced safety features, as well as technology that accepts over-the-air system upgrades, eliminating the need for a special dealer visit. If there’s a downside to this new model, it’s excessively light steering combined with somewhat ponderous handling. But all in all, the Ascent is a worthy addition to Subaru’s line.
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Vehicle layout: 2.4-liter horizontally opposed 4 (260 hp), CVT, AWD
MSRP, base model: $32,970; (as tested: $36,630)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 21/27/23
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: not yet rated; IIHS: good (all ratings); Top Safety Pick Plus
Spare tire: Compact spare
Final assembly: United States
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles