Saturday, September 23, 2023
Reviews 2023 Subaru Ascent Review: Like a Favorite Sweater

2023 Subaru Ascent Review: Like a Favorite Sweater

Updated for 2023, the Subaru Ascent remains familiar and always comforting

2023 Subaru Ascent Pros

– The 2.4T boxer engine is well matched to the SUV.

– The cabin is spacious and well put together.

– It’s an easy vehicle to live with.

2023 Subaru Ascent Cons

– Fuel consumption is high for the segment despite Subaru’s reasonable rating.

The midsize three-row SUV, or rather its booming segment, is a snapshot of what’s wrong with North America where new-car consumption is concerned. Over the last five or six years, the number of offerings has doubled and of these additions is the Subaru Ascent.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Few families, with an average of no more than two kids, really needs more than a compact two-row SUV – fine, a midsize. Perhaps a weekend or two, and a week per year will a family perhaps need a mildly more generous trunk but that what roof boxes are for… Alright, commentary done.

Styled like a Subaru

If you are in the market for a midsize three-row SUV, you’ve never had more options. And like your closet, the Ascent is one of the most comfortable hoodies you have but it might not be the most stylish – it won’t wow your friends when you meet up at the coffee shop.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Most automakers including Kia, Hyundai, and Volkswagen have put much emphasis on styling and while Subaru’s kept the Ascent fresh, their approach is always far more subtle. New headlights, grille, and taillights essentially cover the visual updates. The Ascent’s looks are a balanced blend of rugged and purposeful.

Space and comfort

On board, the big Subaru offers families a full gambit of features. The base Convenience includes the large reflection-prone and attention-hungry 11.6-inch touchscreen display, heated front seats, and loads more for $40,995. The twist is that what you really want, and need is part of the $45,495 Touring model (with or without Captain seats) which throws in a power tailgate, a heated steering wheel, and access to colour such as Cosmic blue, or the one found on the tested $53,995 Premier. Although Nappa leather and cooled seats are nice-to-haves, ultimately, they bring nothing to the table.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The main reason for the 2023 Ascent’s existence is its spacious cabin. With seating for seven or eight and up to 1,232L of trunk space behind the second row, there’s little chance you’ll have to leave something behind on your family-of-four summer road trip. Some of the other highlights include generous storage areas and exceptional outward visibility.

Comforting driving experience

On the road, the 2023 Subaru Ascent is, again, akin to that hoodie. Driver and passengers feel at ease in the SUV while heading to a destination. Subaru’s Global Platform serves as a solid and proficient foundation for ride comfort. The suspension provides competent handling capabilities without ever sacrificing refinement. As always, Subaru’s steering is a mix limited precision but with decent response.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Ascent’s soul is the standard turbocharged 2.4-litre Boxer flat-4-cylinder that generates 260hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. Although I’d like to complain about the SUV’s transmission, the current generation of Subaru Lineatronic Continuously Variable transmission (CVT) is one of the best of its kind. In fact, from a dead-stop, the CVT’s “gearing” accentuates the engine’s initial twisting power launching the Ascent from a dead-stop.

Subaru reveals that 11L/100km is what the SUV should deliver in mixed driving. My test drive of over 500km, of which 75% was completed on the highway, returned a less-than-impressive 13L/100km.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The power is certainly sufficient, allowing for towing capabilities of up to 5,000 lbs. and seamless merging onto highways. The ever-reliable Subaru symmetrical full-time AWD system operates inconspicuously and confidently. Boasting 8.7 inches of ground clearance and an X-Mode feature for light off-roading, the Ascent can effortlessly tackle various roads and terrains, within sensible limits.

Busier segment than ever

With over a dozen offerings now available in the three-row midsize SUV segment, the 2023 Subaru Ascent is once again stands smack in the middle – a good place to be sure. Essentially, the Ascent performs admirably in every aspect without necessarily standing out in any specific area. This well-rounded capability renders it a highly adaptable and appealing SUV.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander First Drive Review: Just The Eight Of Us

Others like the Toyota Highlander and Grand Highlander, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-90, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Dodge Durango, Volkswagen Atlas, Nissan Pathfinder, Hyundai Palisade, and Kia Telluride, to name a few, all have something to offer. The Ascent is the favorite sweater. The Telluride, on a four-year lease, is the slightly more modern and jazzier hoodie. The latest piece of apparel is the new Toyota Grand Highlander.

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2023 Subaru Ascent | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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