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New Subaru Ascent vs. Outback; Which SUV Is Best For You?

How does the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent compare with the 2018 Subaru Outback? Which SUV Is Best For You?

Many consumers have said the new 2019 Subaru Ascent just looks like a slightly bigger version of the Outback. There’s a lot of differences between the new Ascent and Subaru’s number one selling Outback. Ascent will be the flagship model for Subaru in North America, and both are considered mid-size, sport utility vehicles. Ascent is considerably larger than the Outback that carries five passengers, while Ascent will hold 7 or 8 passengers depending on your middle-row selection. There’s more than just 3 rows of seating.

Ascent rides on the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP), a modular chassis that will eventually underpin all next-generation Subarus. This rigid frame offers superior crash absorption and handling agility over current models. The current Outback received a complete remodel in 2015, refreshed for 2018, and won't introduce the new-generation model with the SGP until the 2020 model year.

Ascent has the longer wheelbase, almost five inches, which will translate to a smoother ride because the vehicle platform covers more square area and therefore bumps are less noticeable. Both offer standard full-time Symmetrical all-wheel-drive all-weather capability and come with advanced safety systems.

Below is a more detailed comparison between Ascent and Outback

Ground clearance is the same, at 8.7 inches, so both vehicles elude obstacles that snag most other mid-size Crossovers and SUVS, and both vehicles will handle deep snow. Ascent is wider, seven inches longer, and five and a half inches taller than Outback.

But Outback is comparable in cargo space, in part because Ascent has an additional third row of seats taking up some of that cargo room. Outback has 73.3 cubic feet with the seats down, while Ascent has 72.6 cubic feet with seats folded flat. You can fit two adult bicycles easily inside either vehicle, and if you need to use the recreation-purposed vehicles for a short-term camper, six-footers can sleep in either one. A Power Tailgate is optional on both vehicles.

When it comes to total people space, Ascent is considerably larger inside. Outback has 108.1 cubic feet, Ascent comes with 153.5 cubes. Ascent has more rear legroom and rear doors open an astounding 75 degrees for easy access.

Engine Specs

Outback comes standard with a 2.5 liter four cylinder boxer developing 175 horsepower and 174 lb. ft of torque (25 city, 32 highway mpg), and optional 3.6-liter boxer six cylinder with 256 horsepower and 247 lb. ft of torque is available (20 city, 27 highway mpg). It comes paired with a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission featuring a 6-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters.

All Ascent trims come with a new twin-scroll turbocharged 2.4-liter four cylinder producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb. ft of torque. Fuel economy ratings have not been published yet for Ascent. Subaru announced the new Ascent boxer engine with direct fuel injection will be fuel-efficient providing more than a 500-mile range on a single tank. It comes mated with a Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with paddle shifters.

Towing Capacity

Outback can tow a small utility trailer but for a sailboat you'll need the Ascent. Outback can tow 2700 pounds (3,000 pounds with optional six cylinder engine), Ascent’s powertrain allows up to 5,000-lb. towing capacity, the most of any Subaru in history. Ascent will also come with Trailer Stability Assist which helps maintain vehicle stability while towing.

Rooftop Cargo Solutions

Outback offers standard roof rails (bars run front to back) and integrated crossbars (bars run side to side). Roof Rails are standard on all Ascents but crossbars are optional. The standard roof rails allow for a number of accessories for carrying items such as bicycles, skis and snowboards and kayaks.


Comparing the same trim levels, we're guessing the Ascent will cost around $4,000 more than Outback. Subaru says the base Ascent trim will start in the low $30,000 and top-trims will be low $40,000. However, Ascent comes with standard or optional equipment not offered on the 2018 Outback, such as standard EyeSight driver assist and a standard X-Mode off-road feature.

The all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent will be available summer of 2018. Stay tuned for additional specifications such as pricing and fuel economy closer to dealer launch.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Marty Steinberg (not verified)    January 15, 2018 - 9:23PM

Interested in Ascent, but narrative failed to offer a comparative on competing SUV,s

Comparative to RDX, PILOT, HIGHLANDER .

Robert Bennett (not verified)    April 8, 2018 - 4:49PM

Have had Ravs, Tacomas, and an Equinox. Am looking at the Highlander, Pilot, Four Runner. I have read a lot on the Ascent and I am very Interested in it. Would like to be th first in the area to own one of these Ascents. Please keep me updated on the release date and price.

Dan (not verified)    May 4, 2018 - 8:35AM

If this is 5 inches longer, why did they make driver leg room 0.7 inches shorter? My main problem with the Outback is driver fatigue caused by minimal leg room length and a cramped footwell area. This vehicle may be great around town but you may be miserable if you are in it for more than 2 hours

Ken Parkany (not verified)    August 31, 2018 - 5:31PM

On 3rd OB since 2010 larger remodel. Best vehicle ever for our purpose- no kids , travel months at a time , plenty cargo plus top carrier is built in. And most of its SAFE