The all-new 2019 Ascent is Subaru's largest family-sized, three-row SUV with a choice of either a seven- or eight-passenger configuration, featuring a standard second-row bench seat or available Captain's chairs.
The Ascent is based on a strengthened and extended version of Subaru's Global Platform with extensive use of high-strength steel. The U.S.-built Ascent is available in four trim levels, starting with the base Ascent, followed by Premium, Limited, and Touring trims.
-- EFFICIENT POWER
The Ascent's power source is a 2.4-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine, with an intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger, direct fuel injection, and electronic throttle control. The front-flat-mounted engine delivers 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm while producing 277 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm.
Motive force is delivered to the driving wheels via Subaru's Lineartronic CVT transmission with hill descent control, selectable eight-speed manual shift mode, and steering-wheel-mounted shift control paddles.
Subaru's Active Torque Split all-wheel-drive system features an electronically controlled clutch with X-Mode variable transfer clutch lock control, vehicle dynamics control with a traction control system and rollover sensor, as well as trailer stability assist.
Active torque vectoring is a standard feature, and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Fuel economy allows for more than a 500-mile range on a single tank.
-- APPEALING LOOKS
The Ascent's exterior styling is based on Subaru's "Dynamic x Solid" design philosophy, with a bold and athletic presence. The all-new SUV leads off incorporating Subaru's signature hexagonal grille and C-shaped headlights. Wheel arches are prominent, flowing into a horizontal character line. The flared lower sills establish a solid powerful look. Lower side and wheel arch cladding provide a rugged, capable, and protective surface. The exterior's dramatic presence carries over into the cabin, starting from the central zone and flowing outward, creating a feeling of spaciousness.
-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
Up to nine unique seating configurations are available, with two rows of 60/40 split flat-folding seats providing up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo space and a stowable cargo cover. The Ascent comes standard with a second-row bench seat, providing room for up to eight passengers. New is 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Rear door openings are wide, with steep C-pillar angles and a low entrance point that allows easy access to both the second and third rows, and the power rear gate is height adjustable. Three-zone climate control and EyeSight Driver Assist Technology are standard fare, along with the 19 cup and bottle holders.
-- SAFETY AND CONNECTIVITY
The Ascent's connectivity is courtesy of Subaru's latest STARLINK in-vehicle technology with a multi-touch high-resolution display screen featuring rear view camera and smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Aha and Pandora, as well as Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, and SiriusXM services.
Ascent's safety inventory is extensive, and includes a host of expected features. A Safety Plus package is also available, offering SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, and diagnostic alerts. A Safety Plus & Security Plus upgrade package adds stolen vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights, and remote vehicle locator.
Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology includes automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and trailer sway stabilization, pre-collision throttle management, and new EyeSight Assist Monitor, which provides a heads-up display of the EyeSight system warnings, as well as system status information on the windshield of the vehicle.
-- AS TESTED
I drove the Ascent Limited model with a Crimson Red Pearl exterior finish, complemented by a black interior with ivory-toned dash and door panels. The base price was set at $38,995. The final tally came to $42,920 after adding the destination and delivery charge and options.
The Ascent Limited is an attractive midsize SUV offered at a reasonable price point considering the feature content. It provides an optimal combination of SUV capability and sedan-like ride and handling with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
The 2.4-liter Boxer engine delivers healthy acceleration, and the high-torque Lineartronic CVT features an eight-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters as well as X-Mode with Hill Descent Control. Shifts are smooth without the benign feel experienced by many CVT-equipped vehicles.
Handling characteristics were on par with several sporty sedans and the on-road stability and ride comfort were exemplary. The Ascent proved its mettle off-road as well -- not in a rock-crawling scenario mind you, but over rough, uneven, unpaved surfaces, where it will likely see most of its duty.
-- OUR CONCLUSION
In a bottom-line analysis, the Subaru Ascent represents itself as a superbly desirable SUV, with more to offer than many competitors.
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