2019 Subaru Ascent

Performance


MSRP
$31,995
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Subaru Ascent Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

The new-for-2019 Subaru Ascent features a turbo-four engine that delivers good acceleration and ample power for both highway driving and towing. Fuel economy is about average for the class, as is towing capacity. The Ascent provides a smooth ride and poised handling, and it's no slouch when the pavement ends.

  • "Even so, while competent, this SUV never feels particularly athletic or engaging, the way a Mazda CX-9 can. The Ascent drives just fine, with a steady brake feel and light-ish steering weight, but it's far from sporty. Folks will feel comfortable, safe and secure, not bold and brassy." -- CNET
  • While ride (which seemed quite smooth) and handling (almost 'sporting') struck us as very impressive, the powertrain was a bit less so. The turbocharged engine produces a good amount of power, but it takes a moment to build in a full-throttle launch, and progress from there isn't always completely linear; in normal driving, however, it feels fine, though a faint throbbing sound can almost always be heard. The CVT automatic also works fine in normal driving, and provides fairly quick kickdowns when the throttle is stabbed from speed." -- Consumer Guide
  • Its tow capacity of 5,000 pounds, most-ever for a Subaru, was demonstrated with a sleek Airstream trailer hooked up. … The Ascent's tow control made pulling the Airstream smooth and easy, at least in this limited space. Subaru says it recorded a 14.7-second 0-60 mph time with the Ascent pulling a 5,000-pound test sled." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

The Ascent features a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 260 horsepower. It's paired with a continuously variable transmission, which functions like an automatic. There's not much turbo lag, and the engine delivers good acceleration. It also feels sufficiently powered on the highway and when pulling a trailer.

The Ascent gets an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Those are typical numbers for a midsize SUV, which is impressive since the Ascent comes standard with all-wheel drive (which normally lowers mpg ratings).

When properly equipped, the Ascent can tow up to 5,000 pounds – the most ever for a Subaru vehicle.

  • "The new 2.4-liter turbo is all the engine the big SUV needs, with aggressive throttle tip-in and a wide torque band that nicely covers the midrange. There is no turbo lag in a straight line, though there's some minor stumble coming out of tight corners. Try the CVT's paddle shifters … and you'll be pleasantly surprised by crisp, torque converter-like upshifts and downshifts, though the CVT upshifts itself as you approach redline." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Although the Ascent isn't a small vehicle, the engine easily powers it into highway traffic and up steep inclines. A spirited drive through twisting mountain roads proved the Ascent something of a showoff." -- Boston Globe
  • "Subaru has answered the call of the wild here, as well, with a new 2.4-liter flat-four turbocharged engine, knocking out 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. … Regardless of where it sits on the power spectrum, I found the boxer engine to have excellent acceleration, with plenty of midrange torque to perform lane changes and power out of turns. Naturally, it'll take a full load of kids and clutter to know for sure, but the Ascent seems to have plenty of power." -- CNET

Handling and Braking

This 3-row SUV is hardly a sports car, but the Ascent generally acquits itself well. It feels planted around corners, doesn’t lean too much, and has good stopping power. The ride remains comfortable even over rough roads or when you venture off the pavement. Speaking of off-roading, the Ascent can handle several types of terrain without any trouble.

All-wheel drive comes standard in the Ascent, as does a feature Subaru calls X-Mode, which optimizes traction by managing the amount of power sent to each wheel, thereby reducing wheel spin on slippery terrain.

  • "And the low center-of-gravity of the engine only helped the engineers strike a nice balance between tuning the suspension for responsive handling and [a] comfortable ride. Although the Ascent is the biggest vehicle Subaru has ever made, it never felt cumbersome from behind the wheel, even when pulling a 4200-pound Airstream trailer behind it." -- Autoweek
  • "There are no sport modes to fiddle with in the Ascent, just a standard baseline setting, and that is just fine by us. This isn't a sporty car, so a single well-thought-out and sorted setup makes sense. The Ascent rides comfortably over harsh pavement but isn't sprung so softly that it wallows through corners, at least not when there's just a driver and single passenger onboard." -- Autoblog
  • "Our test drive featured an off-road course with sand, loose gravel, and steep hills. The combination of all-wheel drive and X-Mode made this an easy task. In addition to the ever-present all-wheel drive, the press of a button activates X-Mode with hill-descent control. This lets you take your foot off the pedals as the Ascent does the work of managing speed and braking so you can focus on steering." -- Boston Globe
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2019 Subaru Ascent

MSRP: $31,995 - $44,695

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