Occasionally we will see some companies, and even people venture outside of their comfort zone, and sometimes it is a big success, and other times, a colossal failure. When Ford contracted Carroll Shelby to make them a Ferrari-killer at Le Mans, it was a massive and historic success. When Nissan decided to attempt to build a convertible Murano SUV, it was a massive atomic failure. When Jim Carrey tried to do more dramatic roles, he was a raving success. When Mariah Carey tried acting instead of singing — it was anything but harmony. Sometimes it pays to expand your horizons, but within reason, and other times, it pays to know your limits. One such example of of this in more recent time has been the 2019 Subaru Ascent.
Over the last couple decades Subaru has carved out a nice niche for themselves, making safe family cars, and very capable sports cars. Beyond that, they really haven’t had much of an identity. But, with the world slowly shifting to being dominated by SUVs in a dinosaur-like take over during the Jurassic era, Subaru has decided to branch out and try their hand at creating a massive truck.
Built to compete with mega-movers like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, the Ascent is big — with a wheelbase of 113.8-inches, an overall length of near 200 inches, a height just shy of six feet, and a weight of 4,626 pounds, we mean big. This is a true seven passenger vehicle that has enough cargo space at 86.0/47.0/17.6 cubic feet behind the front/middle/rear seats respectively, to allow everyone to bring what they need for a long road trip.
The Ascent is powered by non other than Subaru’s venerable DOHC flat-4, turbocharged boxer engine that in this iteration dishes out a healthy 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. That power get funneled through another Subbie favorite, the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and sends it off to all four corners (yet another trademark). Despite its heft, the Ascent hustles from 0-60 mph in just 6.9 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 15.2 seconds at 90.5 mph. Not only can it go fast on its way up the speedometer, it can scrub off that speed just as fast, taking only 114 feet to drop back down from 60-0 mph. It even manages to post a respectable 0.78 g around the skidpad — not bad for something the size of a Stegosaurus. It even boasts a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds — not bad for a flat-4 they use in the WRX. Oh, and that nigh-5000 pound beast also sips on gas like an turn-of-the-century English noble to the tune of 20/26/22 city/highway/combined.
Despite creating something they were not used to making, Subaru was smart. The Ascent is reminiscent of most other vehicles in their lineup, just bigger. Not only will the drive train seem familiar to repeat customers, but the safety features like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring as well. Something that might take you by surprise is just how much of a truck this Ascent really is. Equipped with X-Mode, the Ascent takes Subaru’s already impressive commitment to traction control to another level, literally. This mode changes the throttle, transmission shift points, center differential locking strategy, and stability control settings to best allow the Ascent to live up to its name. There is also a hill descent control program that compliments the very impressive approach and departure angles to keep the Ascent from getting stuck in anything but the absolute worst case scenario. But even then there is an optional trailer hitch as well as tie-down shipping hooks ready to assist in getting you unstuck from that murky riverbed or slightly-too-rocky road. Not bad for a truck with a starting price of just under 40 grand.
All in all, Subaru has done a wonderful job with the Ascent. They took a few steps out of their comfort zone, but made it easy enough for us all to still recognize it as a Subaru — just a big one. And unlike Michael Jordan trying to play baseball, or Ferrari trying to make a four-seater all-wheel drive car, the Ascent has proven to be a much more successful venture.