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2019 Subaru Ascent: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 12/17/2018 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked in a parking lot: 2019 Subaru Ascent© Subaru of America, Inc. 2019 Subaru Ascent

Featuring a well-built interior, plenty of technology, and solid performance, the all-new Subaru Ascent makes an impressive debut in the top half of our midsize SUV rankings.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent is ranked:

Is the Subaru Ascent a Good SUV?

Yes, the Subaru Ascent is a good SUV. Its engine delivers plenty of power for most driving situations (including towing) while still getting respectable fuel economy. The Ascent provides a smooth ride, composed handling, and a comfortable interior. It has plenty of cargo space and many available features. There are few clear-cut negatives about this Subaru; instead, the Ascent is merely OK in a few areas where its rivals are good or great.

Should I Buy the Subaru Ascent?

The 2019 Ascent is a well-rounded vehicle with few notable flaws, and it certainly makes a compelling case as a family SUV or for outdoorsy types. However, it has a higher starting price than many competitors, so it may not be the best value. Before buying the Ascent, you should at least consider alternatives like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse.

Should I Buy a New or Used Subaru Ascent?

The Ascent is brand new for 2019, so there are no previous model years to choose from.

We Did the Research for You: 11 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

How Much Does the Subaru Ascent Cost?

The Ascent carries a base price of just under $32,000, which is above average for a midsize SUV. There are three higher trims, with the highest (the Touring) starting at nearly $45,000. That's in line with the prices of rivals' top trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

Subaru Ascent Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Subaru Ascent or Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer is fairly similar to the Ascent in terms of price and class ranking. It offers two engines with more horsepower than the Ascent, but neither is as fuel-efficient. The Explorer also offers four-wheel drive, so it can hang with the Ascent off the road. Inside, the Explorer only seats seven compared to the Ascent's eight, and the Ford has less cargo space. The Subaru's seats are also slightly more comfortable. These two are close, but the Subaru is probably a narrow winner.

Which Is Better: Subaru Ascent or Chevrolet Traverse?

The Chevrolet Traverse finishes in the middle of the midsize SUV rankings, but it costs a bit less than the Ascent. The Chevy has a fairly upscale interior, along with more cargo space and a larger third row than the Subaru. The Traverse has a more powerful engine than the Ascent, but it gets worse gas mileage. Also, the Traverse isn't that fun to drive. The contest between these two ultimately boils down to personal preference and what you value most in an SUV.

Ascent Interior

How Many People Does the Ascent Seat?

The Ascent seats eight people – seven if you opt for second-row captain's chairs. The first two rows of seats are roomy and comfortable, but the third row is cramped for adults. The large doors make it easy to get in and out of the vehicle.

Ascent and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing car seats.

Ascent Interior Quality

The Ascent may not have the most upscale or modern-looking cabin in the class, but it's still a nice place to spend your time. Many premium materials create an inviting atmosphere.

Ascent Cargo Space

Many midsize SUVs provide less cargo space than this Subaru. The Ascent gives you a maximum capacity of about 86 cubic feet – enough space for some furniture or large outdoor gear like bicycles. You get about 47 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, which still gives you plenty of room to pack some beach gear and the family dog for a fun day trip.

Ascent Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features include Bluetooth, four USB ports, satellite radio, and the Starlink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 6.5-inch touch screen. Available features include a panoramic moonroof, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and an upgraded Starlink system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

This Subaru features plenty of standard smartphone connectivity options, and many functions are controlled via the user-friendly Starlink infotainment system. The controls are well-organized, and they're easy to reach and see from the driver's seat.

Ascent Performance

Ascent Engine: Nothing to Complain About

The Ascent comes with a 260-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. While that may not sound like an exciting powertrain, it does the trick. This Subaru never feels underpowered – even when pulling a trailer – and acceleration is good from a stop and on the highway.

Ascent Gas Mileage: Decent Ratings

The Ascent gets 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Those ratings are in line with several class rivals' numbers. The Ascent can still save you money on gas, however. Compared to driving the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse, the Ascent will save you about $100 and $500, respectively, on gas each year.

Ascent Ride and Handling: Stable and Smooth

The Ascent rides comfortably and absorbs road imperfections without much of a fuss. It also handles surprisingly well for a vehicle its size. This Subaru is composed on winding roads and doesn't have too much body roll around turns.

Ascent Off-Road Performance

You expect a Subaru to be able to go off road, and the Ascent doesn't disappoint. It handles sandy terrain, steep hills, and gravelly areas with no problems. Subaru's X-Mode, which manages power to the wheels to optimize traction on slippery terrain, helps the vehicle feel stable in many situations.

Ascent Towing Capacity

This Subaru can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. That's the most of any Subaru vehicle, and it’s a decent rating for a midsize SUV.

Ascent Reliability

Is the Subaru Ascent Reliable?

The 2019 Ascent does not yet have a reliability rating from J.D. Power.

Subaru Ascent Warranty

Subaru covers the Ascent with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Ascent Safety

Ascent Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2019 Subaru Ascent.

Ascent Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and pre-collision braking. Some of these features are part of Subaru's EyeSight suite of active safety technology.

Available features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, reverse automatic braking, automatic high beams, and a surround-view camera.

Which Subaru Ascent Model Is Right for Me?

You have four options when choosing an Ascent trim: base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. All models come with a 260-horsepower, turbo-four engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The Premium and Limited trims are the best options for most buyers. The Limited offers a few more comfort upgrades and driver assistance features than the Premium, but it also costs nearly $5,000 more. If those extra features aren't worth the money to you, then the Premium is a good choice.

Subaru Ascent

The base trim is known only as the Ascent, and it carries a starting price of $31,995. Standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, four USB ports, satellite radio, a rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and the Starlink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 6.5-inch touch screen.

There aren't any notable options for the base trim.

Subaru Ascent Premium

The Ascent Premium starts at $34,195. In addition to the base trim's features, the Premium comes with a Wi-Fi hot spot, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, stain-resistant cloth upholstery, second-row climate controls, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, and an upgraded Starlink system with an 8-inch touch screen.

There are two option packages you can add, both available in seven- and eight-passenger seating configurations. The Convenience package ($1,460) adds a power liftgate, keyless entry, and reverse automatic braking. The Sporty package ($4,260) adds the Convenience package's features plus a panoramic moonroof and navigation.

Subaru Ascent Limited

The Ascent Limited has a starting price of $38,995. The Limited comes with leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, reverse automatic braking, and automatic high beams.

You can also add the Technology package ($2,950), which includes a Harman Kardon audio system, a panoramic moonroof, and navigation.

Subaru Ascent Touring

The Ascent Touring starts at $44,695. Standard features in the Touring include a panoramic moonroof, second-row captain's chairs, ventilated front seats, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a surround-view camera, and an upgraded Starlink system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

There aren't any notable option packages for the Touring trim because almost every feature already comes standard.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

The Final Call

The 2019 Subaru Ascent enters the midsize SUV fray as a highly competent family vehicle that offers plenty to like inside and out. The Ascent finishes in the top half of its class rankings. It’s a solid choice, but it's not so great that you should buy it without doing at least a little comparison shopping.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 Subaru Ascent review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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