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New Subaru Ascent Limited First Drive; Why It’s a Good Fit For Active Families

We drive the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited. See why it’s an especially good fit for active families.


Subaru gets back in the 3-Row SUV game with the all-new 2019 Ascent family hauler. Subaru designed this new large SUV for North American families and it’s built in the U.S. plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Subaru of America, with the help of their dealers, listened to what buyers wanted and produced the largest vehicle they’ve ever built.

Subaru went big with the Ascent, giving it standard seating for eight passengers, or seven with optional second-row captain's chairs. The new Ascent comes with nearly 32 inches of third-row legroom, 86.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, and 19 cup holders for families with thirsty kids. Ascent gets all-wheel-drive, and more luxury and standard safety features than any vehicle in their lineup.

This week we drive the 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited.

What’s new for 2019?

The 2019 Subaru Ascent is an all-new 3-Row SUV. Ascent starting at $31,995 and comes in Base, Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels. When properly equipped, Ascent can tow up to 5,000 lbs.

Features & Options

The 2019 Subaru Ascent Limited ($38,995) comes standard with roof rails, automatic headlights, 60/40-split folding second- and third-row seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a rearview camera, four USB ports (two in front, two in the second row), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio.

Limited trims also come with heated side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear-seat climate controls, and an upgraded multimedia system with an 8-inch touchscreen, voice controls, and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

This Limited tester came with second-row captains chairs, 20-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, LED foglights, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, additional driver-seat adjustments, heated outboard second-row seats, rear door sunshades, dual third-row USB ports, and additional leather cabin accents.

Safety features include blind spot detection, with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. Also included is Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology, which bundles forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.

An optional package ($2,950) for this Limited trim included a panoramic power sunroof, navigation system, cargo cover and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system. Total MSRP including destination: $42,920.

Interior Highlights

The new Ascent Limited interior is roomy, comfortable with black with cream accents, and the attractive lines give it a contemporary upscale feel. The leather seats are supportive for long drives and come with 10-way power adjustability and the tilt/telescoping steering wheels allow you to find the perfect driving position for all sizes of family drivers.

The 2019 Ascent cabin represents a marked upgrade for Subaru interiors, both in design and quality of materials with the liberal use of soft-touch materials throughout. An 8-inch touchscreen display sits on the center dash offering voice controls with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Visibility outward is typical of a Subaru vehicle and offers a good view out the back and sides.

row 2

Passenger room is abundant in the second row with the captain's chairs giving even more room to spread out and get comfortable. There are separate climate control and two USB ports to stay connected. Passengers can pull down the rear shades and stay cool in the summer heat. Families will have enough room to take their gear and can stay connected on long trips with extra USB ports in the second row. There are even 19 cup holders for passengers to stay hydrated on weekend trips.

The third row is perfect for kids, but adults will only want to ride back there for short jaunts. Mom will like the power lift gate and there’s a hidden storage compartment for keeping things out of sight under the rear cargo area. Utility is a strong point for the new Ascent and by folding all three seats, the SUV offers up almost 87 cubic feet of cargo space, one of the largest capacities in the class. When properly equipped, Ascent can also tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The new Ascent 3-Row is powered by Subaru’s all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Boxer engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated with a Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive comes standard on every Ascent model.

EPA fuel mileage estimates come in at 20/26 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg on Limited trims using regular unleaded fuel. We averaged 21 mpg for the week driving in Colorado’s high altitude.

Driving Dynamics

We were surprised at the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine’s power in our high-altitude driving. It’s 260 horsepower doesn’t sound like a lot, but the 277 lb-ft of torque gets this large SUV moving. We pushed the 3-Row vehicle hard up I-70 heading west into the mountains and had no problem passing and making spirited maneuvers. The Ascent feels sure-footed and the all-wheel-drive offers all-weather capability.

We tossed the big vehicle around tight mountain corners, and it left us with a feeling of confidence in its abilities to stay planted. Another one of the surprises is the CVT automatic shifts more like a standard transmission and we didn’t hear the continuous winding up like other CVTs. Subaru has one of the better ones out there and it helps save fuel.

The ride is comfortable and especially suited to long trips, while sound insulation and the acoustic glass kept the cabin quiet even in heavy city traffic this week. This big SUV comes with 8.7 ins. of ground clearance, making this family hauler ideal for trips to the backcountry. Out tester soaked up the bumps as we took it on a bumpy dirt road and with its lower center of gravity, it handles exceptionally well on pavement.


Subaru designed the new 2019 Ascent with families in mind with a roomy comfortable cabin, offering plenty of utility, and all-wheel-drive for all-weather performance. This SUV offers additional off-road features you won’t find in other 3-Row vehicles. With standard EyeSight driver assist technology, it offers another level of safety for urban families on the go. Overall, the 2019 Subaru Ascent looks to be an ideal pick for a three-row SUV, especially for active families.