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CR Says If You Want Plush Buy The Subaru Ascent

Which is the most comfortable new Midsize 3-Row SUV? Consumer Reports says it's the 2024 Subaru Ascent without a doubt. Check out the nine best SUVs in comfort and find out why CR gives the Ascent the highest scores. 

Ascent's comfort now tops the rest.

Do you want a smooth ride, a quiet interior, supportive seats, comfortable seats, a driving position, and easy access? In an updated Consumer Reports (CR, by subscription), scoring of the most comfortable midsize 3-Row SUVs says they can all increase the pleasure of driving—and keep you safer. 

Surprisingly, the 2024 Subaru Ascent scores the highest in comfort compared with the nine best midsize 3-Row SUVs. 

"Comfort is an important element in driver safety," says Alex Knizek, CR's associate director of auto test development. "You can be more attentive to driving if you're not distracted by a sore back or achy legs. Plus, in a comfortable car, you'll arrive at your destination more refreshed."

CR does the work for you.

CR tested more than 260 new cars and created a comfort score. I'm glad they did the heavy lifting. Here are their results in the 3-Row SUV category. 

For the best 2-Row SUVs in comfort, check out my report here. (Spoiler alert: it's the Outback scoring #1).

Comfort comes in many forms.

CR defines comfort by how well the car muffles road and wind noise, how well your body fits in the driver's seat, and how much effort it takes to get in and out of the car and reach and use the controls. 

CR's comfort score is based on its evaluation of six factors: ride, noise, driving position, usability, seat comfort, and access.

You won't find a vehicle's real-life comfort on a short test drive at the dealer. 

You have to live with the vehicle for a while. That's what CR does. Ratings for these factors are based on scores from testers of different heights and sizes who drive thousands of miles. 

You don't have to buy a luxury car.

CR says, " It's also a mistake to think that comfort is a luxury."

Consumer Reports four top recommended 3-Row SUVs ($45,000 - $55,000) with the highest comfort scores. All are mainstream (non-luxury) models. 

  1. Subaru Ascent - 84
  2. Kia Telluride - 82
  3. Honda Pilot - 81
  4. Toyota Grand Highlander - 79
  5. Hyundai Palisade - 78
  6. Toyota Highlander - 77
  7. Toyota Highlander Hybrid - 77
  8. Kia Sorento Hybrid - 76
  9. Kia Sorento - 74

What does CR say about the unique features of Ascent that set it apart from the rest? Let's delve into the distinctive elements that make the 2024 Subaru Ascent a standout choice.

"The Ascent's ride is comfortable to the point of being plush, gliding over or swallowing up any bump, rut, or pothole in its way. Yet its body is always under control, never pitching about over the rough stuff. Open the big, wide doors, and inside, you'll find large, supportive seats that can fit a range of body types. We suggest getting the Premium trim at the least, which has an eight-way power-adjustable cloth driver's seat, while the Limited trim adds power to the front passenger seat and has more supportive leather seating surfaces." 

"Whether you choose a version with the two captain's chairs or the three-person bench seat, the second row is seriously big, with supportive seats that even have reclining seatbacks. Wind and road noise are surprisingly low for such a big, boxy SUV, and the turbocharged four-cylinder engine rarely makes itself known."

Wait, there's more

CR did not mention Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is standard on all new Ascent trim levels. This will make your drive more comfortable. Set the adaptive cruise control, which eases driver fatigue—an often overlooked feature. Find out more in my report here.

The 2024 Ascent comes with the Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system for infotainment, which includes standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. A full-screen display adds more comfort.

Do you still want more? 

A heated steering wheel and seats add more comfort and are now standard on all upper trim levels. 

What is the 2024 Ascent pricing?

The 2024 Subaru Ascent has six trim levels: the base trim starts at $35,490, and the Premium trims begin at $38,090. The Ascent Onyx Edition starts at $42,890, the upper Limited starts at $43,190, the Ascent Onyx Edition Limited is priced at $47,890, and the top-trim Touring has a starting MSRP of $49,790. Pricing includes destination and delivery fees ($1,295).

What if you don't need three rows? 

If you want the most comfortable Two-Row SUV, Consumer Reports says the 2025 Subaru Outback is the best midsize model available. 

What's Next For The Ascent? 

The future looks promising with the expected redesign of the Subaru Ascent in the second half of 2024. Stay tuned for more updates on the next-generation 2025 Ascent, and get ready to experience even more comfort and features.

As I said in a previous report, Automotive News (by subscription) says, "The Subaru Ascent is expected to be redesigned in the second half of 2024." So, Subaru of America should announce the next-generation 2025 Ascent sometime this summer or fall. Read more in my report here. 

Would you buy a new, more fuel-efficient next-generation Ascent Hybrid? Or would you prefer a rugged next-generation Ascent Wilderness? Your opinion matters. Click the red Add New Comment link below and tell us what you want. We value your input and it will help shape the future of the Subaru Ascent.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Tucson Subaru


Peter Decker (not verified)    July 6, 2024 - 12:48PM

Subaru Ascent Hybrid would be awesome. I just bought the Ascent Limited with the Tech Package. Love it so far. Hopefully redesign isn’t too big of an improvement :)

Dan McCormack (not verified)    July 6, 2024 - 1:44PM

I want a plug-in Ascent that is hybrid, mostly running on electric with a small gas tank. Also with maybe 7K towing capacity. I would probably buy two if Subaru makes this.

Rich (not verified)    July 6, 2024 - 2:14PM

Have a 23 Ascent Touring. Very comfortable. Mileage is acceptable, 16 mixed, 22 highway. But I would buy a hybrid as soon as I was convinced they had it right. That is probably 3rd year after launch.

Jane Villiard (not verified)    July 6, 2024 - 9:05PM

I would buy the Ascent Hybrid today if it were available. I’m currently waiting on a Grand Highlander Hybrid which they have stopped production on.

Heather (not verified)    July 6, 2024 - 11:05PM

After Volvo was bought by a company in India is was very disappointed after having deiven 5 different Volvos.over the years I traded my XC 90 in and I bought my first Subaru ..
2019 Ascent Touring ( great decision) In a couple of years I will want to replace this vehicle with a hybrid and would be very interested in a hybrid option for the Ascent.

Dave (not verified)    July 7, 2024 - 7:31AM

I’m really hoping for a hybrid option. Digital dash (prob won’t happen)and all USB -C, heads up display, and ventilated 2nd row seats. I’m due for a car next year

Laurence Kelly (not verified)    July 7, 2024 - 7:32AM

We have a 2020 Forester Touring and a 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited. Love both cars, but our fav is the Hybrid for comfort, amenities and efficiency (my wife especially loves the cooled front seats). Would be very interested in an Ascent Hybrid option. We appreciate your report on most comfortable SUVs, both of us seniors, and will likely purchase a hybrid SUV next.

Dana (not verified)    July 12, 2024 - 7:45PM

What are they smoking? We have a 24 ascent and it is rock hard uncomfortable and the seats are too far from the door to use as an arm rest.