Skip to main content

New Subaru Outback Vs. Ascent 3-Row, Which Is The Best Fit For Your Family?

The Subaru Ascent is bigger than the new 2020 Outback, but is it the best fit?


The all-new 2020 Subaru Outback has been announced and it arrives soon with many new improvements for customers. If you are considering a Subaru family hauler, you could also choose the new Ascent 3-Row. Which nameplate is best for you? If the new Ascent family hauler is bigger than you need, you might consider waiting for the new six-generation Outback coming this fall.

Both Ascent and Outback are considered SUV/Crossover vehicles, but the Outback carries five passengers, with Ascent you can haul 7 or 8 depending on the middle-row selection of a bench seat or captains chairs. Ascent has the longer wheelbase by almost five inches providing 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 for all-weather capability. Both vehicles come with 8.7-inches of ground clearance, are off-road capable, and both come standard with X-Mode for serious recreation in the backcountry.

Carrying cargo

Ascent is longer than the new 2020 Outback by seven inches, and Ascent is five and a half inches taller. If you need cargo space, but not the third row, Outback compares favorably with Ascent. Outback comes with 37.1 cubic feet with the seats up, Ascent 19.6 cubic feet because it has an additional row of seats taking up space. With the third row folded down, Ascent has comparable space to the Outback. Outback now features 75.7 cu.ft. with the seats down, Ascent offers 86.5 cu.ft. Both will carry a mountain bike inside and you’ll have comparable room for your four-legged friends.

People space 

If you need to haul people, Ascent is the vehicle for carrying 2-3 more passengers than Outback. Outback now comes with 109.2 cubic feet of volume inside the cabin (with the moonroof), Ascent features 153.5 cubic feet. Outback now has more second-row legroom with 39.5 inches while Ascent offers up 38.6 inches. So if don’t need that third row, Outback offers more room for taller passengers.

Towing capacity

Will you be towing a small trailer or a sailboat? The new 2020 Outback equipped with the 260-hp FA24 2.4-liter turbo engine can tow a small camper, a trailer for pulling dirt bikes, or a small boat and now comes with 3,500 lbs. towing capacity, but for a large sailboat, you'll need the Ascent (5000 lbs. max towing capacity).

Engine efficiency

Both Outback and Ascent offer the new 2.4-liter direct injection turbocharged Boxer engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. The heavier Ascent gets an EPA estimated 20 city, 26 highway mpg. The 2020 Outback comes with two engine options, a 2.5 liter four cylinder producing 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque with a manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy 26/33 mpg city/highway. The new 2020 Outback FA24 2.4-liter turbo engine manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy is 23/30 mpg city/highway.

Safety first

Both Ascent and the new 2020 Outback come with standard EyeSight driver assist safety system. The new Outback gets the Subaru DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, Ascent does not offer the new safety feature.

If you don’t need a 3-Row family hauler, the six-generation 2020 Subaru Outback arrives this fall. It will ride on the new Subaru Global Platform with improved driving dynamics, more interior room, it gets a new fuel-efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, and it will get new infotainment and safety features.

You May Also Like: Subaru Brings Back One Option Outback Customers Seriously Wanted

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers!

Follow more Subaru news on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Photo credit: Planet Subaru


Robert Dunn (not verified)    May 9, 2019 - 3:51PM

Hello, when the 2020 Outback was introduced in NY, it was being reported that the cargo space was 32.5 cf with rear seats up, now I see that number is 37.1 cf. Can you confirm the real cargo space of the 2020 with rear seats up?


James Simonds (not verified)    June 2, 2020 - 2:11PM

To start with, the dealer that I decided to choose, was not even listed with other dealers in my area. Too bad. We decided to purchase from Albany Subaru in Albsny Ca. Reason for choosing this particular dealer, is the salesman. Don Myers. A really nice guy. Now, the vehicle. After research, we decided on the premium model with package 15 Forester. We feel that we got the bang for the buck with this vehicle. This is our second Subaru. We purchased a 2018 Subaru Impreza 5 door. Both vehicles were our daughters. So safety played a huge role in our decisions.