2019 Subaru Ascent — For those of you not lucky enough to reside permanently in places like San Diego California, Honolulu Hawaii, or Key West Florida, odds are at one point or another you’re going to have to experience more than one perfect season. In fact, if you’re just about anywhere North of the Mason Dixon Line, you’re going to have three, probably four of them to deal with. Those pesky seasons (among other things) are what make choosing a car so difficult at times. Sure, you want a Corvette, but your kids, your dogs, and Mother Nature in January are all probably not going to approve.
So what then? Form follows function … and well, welcome to the SUV craze that the USA has been obsessed with for the last decade or two. Trucks are needed, so truck-like vehicles are created. Except, we as Americans don’t just want some giant truck to schlep out kids around in, oh no! We want the best of both worlds. We want something that has the all-weather capabilities of a truck, yet the mild manners of a sedan. And as with most capitalism-based thinking, if there is a need for something, someone is going to figure out a way to profit from it. In this case, Subaru has not only profited, but carved out an almost untouchable niche within that market. Their entire identity is based around their all-wheel driven “safe” cars, not to mention their nigh-Toyota-like longevity. So when a new Subie comes out, we’ve all gotten out eyes peeled.
Enter the 2019 Subaru Ascent, the company’s first ever bonafide three-row SUV. They want us to pretend like the Tribeca never existed, and we are fine with that. The Ascent is aimed directly at the Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9 … and we expect it to take a big bite out of all of their sales. Beginning with the company’s Global Platform that most Subarus are built upon, the Ascent’s has been stretched and pulled a bit to create the company’s biggest, and heaviest (at 4,600 pounds) model to date.
That heft is moved by the use of another Sub calling card, a DOHC flat-4 cylinder turbocharged and intercooler motor that sports an aluminum head and block as well as direct injection. That familiar engine produces a legitimate 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, backed by a oftentimes jumpy CVT automatic. No one will mistake it for a WRX STI any time soon, but the Ascent can move respectably well considering its size. 0-60 mph comes up in 6.9 seconds, while 0-100 mph takes 19.4 seconds. Braking from 70-0 mph takes 178 feet and around the skidpad, the Ascent pulls a reasonable 0.79g. It’s most impressive performance may be at the pump, where the big Sub clocks in at 20/26/22 city/highway/combined mpg.
Inside, the Subaru Ascent can technically seat up to eight people. We are going to presume that some of them might not be full-grown adults, but still, it’s an admirable amount of space. The seats are moveable and changeable based on need. There are up to eight USB ports, and 19 cup holders to make sure all passengers have access to water and entertainment. The ride quality can best be described as sporty-soft. There is a host of expected safety gizmos and nannies like lane keeping assist, automated emergency braking, and of course the ever-present AWD setup to keep the safety mantra Subaru is known for alive and well.
The biggest pro of the Subaru Ascent is that it comes in with a base price just under $33,000. The biggest downside however, is that in terms of looks, the Ascent isn’t particularly memorable. It looks as though Subaru took a page out of Acura’s book, and went with the ‘most inoffensive and non-polarizing’ model of design. It seems form does indeed follow function. The 2019 Subaru Ascent dominates in terms of function, we just wish it had a little more form behind it.