The 10 Best SUVs Under $40,000 - New Subaru Outback And Ascent Outscore 3 Luxury Models
The 2021 Subaru Outback and 2021 Subaru Ascent models arrive this summer at retailers and get new safety upgrades. The 2020 Outback and Ascent have been picked as Consumer Reports (by subscription) 10 Best SUVs under $40,000 and scores the two mainstream Subaru models superior to three luxury SUVs, two from Lexus and one Audi.
Some argue the Outback isn’t an SUV, but a wagon and CR calls it one, and says it's a “smart alternative” to an SUV. Outback rated high for utility, ground clearance, standard all-wheel-drive, and cargo-carrying ability. Of the 10 Best SUVs, Outback scores higher than the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Lexus UX, Lexus NX, Ford Edge, and Audi Q3.
Why should I buy a Subaru Outback?
You won’t spend $40,000 on an Outback unless you buy the top-trim Touring XT ($40,705). The base Outback starts at $27,655, and the next to the top Limited XT starts at $38,755. All trim levels come standard will all-drive, which you won’t find in all SUVs.
The Outback offers more of a car-like ride and handling if you don’t want the bulky feel of a larger SUV. The Outback offers 8.7-inches of ground clearance, which is more than some SUVs, and Outback has a superior safety rating from IIHS. Fuel mileage is 26/33 city/highway mpg and 29 combined in the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, also better than many SUVs.
Why should I buy a Subaru Ascent?
The Subaru Ascent base starts at $33,345, and Premium trims begin at $35,845. The upper Limited starts at just over $40,000, with a starting price of $40,645. The top-trim Touring has a starting MSRP of $46,495. Consumer Reports scores the Ascent higher than the Lexus UX, Lexus NX, Ford Edge, and Audi Q3.
The Ascent is the largest vehicle Subaru makes, offering three rows of seats. The Ascent family hauler has a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with as much power (260 horsepower) as the competitor’s V6 powerplants.
The all-new Ascent also has a superior safety rating from IIHS. Fuel mileage comes in at 21/27 city/highway mpg and 23 combined with the 2.4-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine. The big advantage Ascent has over other SUVs is its ground clearance (8.7-inches). All trims come standard with all-drive, and it features X-Mode for improved all-weather performance in mud, snow, and more severe conditions.
What’s new for 2021?
For 2021, all Outback trims now come standard with steering responsive LED headlights, passenger seat belt reminders, and a rear-seat reminder.
The 2021 Ascent comes with advanced adaptive cruise control with lane-centering and lane-keep assist added to the standard EyeSight driver-assist safety technology. Another newly added safety feature is the steering responsive LED headlights that are now standard across all trim levels, and the second- and third-row seat belt reminder is now standard equipment.
Both 2021 Subaru Outback and 2021 Subaru Ascent roll off the assembly line at the automaker’s U.S. plant in Lafayette, Indiana. There are still some 2020 models left, and new 2021 all-wheel-drive vehicles arrive this summer.
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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