The Subaru Ascent wants to be your ideal family vehicle with space and comfort to spare.
The Ascent is offered in a handful of trims with limited options, making it simple to configure to your liking.
Among three-row SUV with included AWD, it’s relatively affordable.
The Subaru Ascent enters the 2021 model year with few changes including upgrades to Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight driver assist technology, which is standard. The Ascent was introduced for the 2019 model year as the largest vehicle ever produced by Subaru.
In typical Subaru fashion, the 2021 Ascent carries on with little fuss as a vehicle designed to deliver family-oriented usefulness and versatility. There’s only one powertrain available and there are only a few trims to select from. In fact, depending on trim, the biggest decision to be made is whether the owner requires seating for seven or eight passengers.
In the US, pricing for the 2021 Subaru Ascent begins at $32,295, which represents a $300 increase over the 2020 model year vehicle. The top-line Touring trim is priced from $45,445. Canadian pricing for the 2021 Ascent is not yet known however we assume that a mild price increase will also be applied over 2020 pricing, which starts at $36,695.
The only possible engine-transmission combination available is a turbocharged 2.4-litre flat-4 cylinder engine that produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque with Subaru’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Subaru’s symmetrical AWD with X-Mode is standard on all models.
Let’s highlight the good and the bad when it comes to the 2021 Subaru Ascent.
What The 2021 Subaru Ascent Does Well
Its styling is very much in-line with other Subaru products. Its subtle yet distinctive design actually makes it look smaller than it actually is, as well as attractive.
What the Ascent is, is a cavernous three-row SUV that provides room for everything and everyone. It’s also about the details such as storage in every row, and, depending on trim, countless USB ports – this makes every passenger feel as though they belong, and are cared for.
The Ascent’s trunk is positively huge. With the third row down, it will carry up to 1,345 litres or 47.5 cubic feet of gear. With the 3rd row in place, the trunk still allows for a useful 504 litres or 17.8 cubic feet of volume.
The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has plenty of torque to get the big SUV up and going. It’s as responsive as many V6 engines offered in competing SUVs.
Built on Subaru’s Global Platform, the Ascent is refined, smooth and relatively quiet. The stiff structure allows the suspension to do its job and deliver a comfortable drive. It also has 8.7 inches (220 mm) of ground clearance for when the going gets rougher.
While not typically expected from Subaru, the Ascent’s packaging and pricing supply a fair amount of value. Most other three-row SUVs are priced very near to the Ascent however they typically lack AWD.
The Subaru Ascent is among the safest SUVs on the market. It earned a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a 5-Star Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Also, EyeSight driver assist technology is standard.
What The 2021 Subaru Ascent Doesn’t Do So Well
The Lineartronic continuously variable transmission can create a drone-like noise or vibration as it maintains engine speeds as low as possible for maximum fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, fuel consumption is still on the high side where 21-22 mpg (10.7-11.2L/100km) is the best you can expect in mixed driving.
The base model Ascent’s 6.5-inch screen is disappointingly small for a modern vehicle that dates back only to 2019. Fortunately, the next trim up sees its touchscreen interface grow to 8 inches.
If we were to make one negative comment about the Ascent’s on-road behaviour, we’d like steering assistance to be revised, or possibly lessened. Steering can become vague on occasion.
What We Tell Our Friends
We think the 2021 Subaru Ascent is tops or nearly in the segment. It’s under appreciated among its counterparts, and perhaps it’s often overlooked because it comes from Subaru. However, those who give it a chance will be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to live with on a daily basis.
In the segment, the Mazda CX-9 will give you a more premium cabin but the compromise will be less useable interior volume. The Volkswagen Atlas, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Dodge Durango are only a few of the Ascent’s challengers.
All provide specific advantages but the Subaru SUV is the better balanced of the lot. It deserved the opportunity to prove itself.