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The Subaru Ascent And The Revealing Untold Story

Where is the 2024 Subaru Ascent now, where is it going, and is it in trouble? I'll answer all those questions. There's also a revealing interview about the Ascent with Jeff Walters, President and Chief Operating Officer of Subaru of America. 

May's sales performance of the Subaru Ascent midsize 3-Row SUV declined again. The family hauler has declined for eleven consecutive months. Is Subaru of America (SOA) worried? They aren't concerned at all, and I'll explain why. But first, here is where the Ascent is now. 

Subaru of America reports that the 2024 Ascent's May sales decreased by 18.9 percent compared with the same month in 2023. SOA delivered 5,277 models to customers in May, compared with 6,505 in May 2023. In the first four months of 2024, 22,935 Ascent models were delivered to customers, down 15.8 percent.

Still, the Ascent midsize SUV remains SOA's fourth best-selling model. Read my Ascent performance report here.

Where Is The Ascent Going?

The Ascent is now in its sixth year of its life cycle, and it's due for a complete remodel. Unless Subaru throws a curve ball, the 2025 Ascent should get a redesign from the ground up. Subaru has been silent as usual on the upcoming Ascent changes. I expect Subaru to give an announcement this fall. Find out more in my report here. 

In a recent interview, WardsAuto Podcast Host David Kiley talked with Jeff Walters, Subaru of America's President and COO. Walters wasn't silent on the Ascent 3-Row family hauler's issues. Here are excerpts from that revealing interview. 

An Interview With The New Boss

David Kiley asks Walters, "Last year, the Ascent, which replaced the Tribeca, you did about 60,000 in sales. It was about the same as the year before. Is that a number that Subaru likes for that model, or is it maybe underperforming? Is it meeting expectations?" 

How Do You View The Ascent?

"Let me answer that question by talking about value. With selling cars, including the Ascent, at the right value, the way we want to make it work at Subaru, you want to have the right product for the segment and your customers. You need to price it correctly. We strive to do that so we have the right value." 

"But it's not as simple as that. You need to have good discipline. I appreciate the good conversations we can have with our partners and colleagues back in Japan to ensure we have the right strategy and are approaching our business in a sustainable way that provides that value." 

We Are Reasonable With The Number We Build

"So it's the right product at the right price, and we try to be reasonable regarding (manufacturer) incentives for the customer. We are reasonable with the number that we are going to build. If we get anything out of sync, that's when you'll run into problems."  

"Then we have to resort to incentives we don't want to use, we have to fleet the car, and we hurt our retailer's profitability, and many things start to break. So, we talk about sales value, which is a part of the process. That's what we spend a lot of time thinking about." 

"And that goes back to the Ascent. Where we want to position and come to market with it and make it work for everyone, that's the right value for that car." 

Is The Ascent In Trouble?

David Kiley: "I thought that the Ascent was meant to give you greater incremental sales because it's a new segment for the showroom. Higher than 60,000 in sales, but you are telling us that you think that's the right number in terms of the marketplace to keep pricing, profit, and resale value, right?"  

"That's right. The Ascent keeps people in the brand when they need a larger vehicle. Customers who have younger children now have nowhere to go. Ascent was really meant to keep them in the Subaru brand. And then once their children are grown, they return to an Outback," says Walters. 

In the same interview, Jeff Walters provided more insights into Subaru's new strategy for its new all-electric vehicles. 

See why Subaru's new president and COO say it's on a new smart path and strives to be a quick follower. Learn more about Subaru Changes Its EV Strategy: Are They Smarter Than Everyone Else? In my report here

Shoppers looking at the 2024 Ascent can check 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).

You can find more information on SOA's Ascent online tool, where you can check each trim level with standard features, color selection, packages, accessories, and images of each 2024 model change. Check here for my online configurator tool report

I would say the Ascent is an excellent vehicle for Subaru's most active customers. It has the automaker's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive for all-weather performance and X-Mode and dual-function X-Mode for extreme weather and all-terrain performance.

This is the latest information on the Subaru Ascent. Are you shopping for a 3-Row SUV? What do you like about the Ascent? Click the red Add New Comment link below and let us know.

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: Competition Subaru

Comments

Jim Foster (not verified)    June 7, 2024 - 4:20PM

I have had the Ascent for 6 months and I love it. The safety feature are great. The only problem I have is the gas mileage. It was to get 22 city 28 road. I was told it needs to break in but I now over 5000 and are still only getting 16 and 23.

Tim C (not verified)    June 10, 2024 - 8:48AM

In reply to by Jim Foster (not verified)

We have the '23 Ascent Limited and can get UP TO 28 MPG with very conservative driving on the highway. For example, 60-65 on the highway with cruise versus 75-80 drops the gas mileage significantly. If we're even a little heavy footed, we're getting in the range you described, which is closer to what the sticker rates the gas mileage to be.

Mark Carbaugh (not verified)    June 8, 2024 - 2:42PM

As grandparents, we started looking to switch things up about a year ago, knowing that grandkids would be tagging along.
We went to our local Subbie dealer and traded out of our Outback and up to the Ascent. We love the third row availability and the performance of our Limited. It is a great option for anyone looking for that extra space for hauling what just wouldn't fit. And packing for road trips.
It's Autumn Green. We call him Shrek. Big green and just a little mean.

STEPHEN J HESS (not verified)    June 8, 2024 - 2:49PM

Ascent needs a full size spare tire or a Wilderness model with full size spare tire. Would also benefit from a hybrid option (non plug in). I have purchased 4 subarus and am tired of carrying a full size spare in my cargo area. Donut or temporary spare tires are of no use in rural or mountain terrain

John Phillips (not verified)    June 8, 2024 - 7:20PM

We had a 2020 Outback Onyx and loved everything about it, but wanted third row seating. Like the Subaru exec said, the Ascent kept us in the brand. We likely would have bought a Telluride of we didn’t get our 2024 Ascent Onyx Edition.

BLVJ (not verified)    June 9, 2024 - 11:39AM

In reply to by John Phillips (not verified)

We were shopping around for a 3rd row SUV. We have 2 boys and my parents, so we needed more room. Our choices, in this order, were: Telluride, Palisades, and Ascent. We ended up loving the 2023 Ascent which we leased in Jan of 22'. We loved that it was the most car like to drive but had the right amount of power for it's size. AWD as a standard feature was a plus. It also had the right amount of accessories and safety features for the prices which was the biggest selling point for us. My only compliments are that there isn't much space behind the 3rd row especially when the seats are leaned back and I am disappointed about the city mileage. I'm only getting 12.0 mpg with an average driving radius of about 1-5 miles. Our longest trip so far was NJ - Toronto and was pretty satisfied with 28mpg, with the best of 32 mpg. Otherwise we are happy with the Ascent and will be looking forward to the next Gen. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed.

Jim May (not verified)    June 9, 2024 - 9:43AM

We have one of the first 2019 Limiteds off the line. Our first Subaru. We like the size for our trips between houses in Ohio and Florida, but we've certainly endured the recalls and growing pains of that model. The early battery issues where the battery would die just from having the tailgate open as we were loading the car was a major pain. The engine still hesitates and does not run smoothly all the time. We only have 55K miles. When it's time for a new one, I think we'll be inclined to go back to the Toyota Highlander, which we had before. More reliable. Overall, we like the size, put up with the gas mileage and hate the engine performance.

Bob (not verified)    June 9, 2024 - 12:33PM

I mean, he's bang on. Having the Ascent has kept me in the brand. My Forester was too small and I was looking at other companies...the Ascent showed up...good price point, good size on a platform that I know very well.

Bill Barrick (not verified)    June 9, 2024 - 2:36PM

The following are a plus;
Safety features, regular gasoline, interior trim, all wheel drive, space, moon roof,
Plush interior.

Mark Herrick (not verified)    June 9, 2024 - 8:53PM

We have a 24 Subaru Accent Touring. We have always been a Toyota buyer but couldn't find one with a tow hitch. We test drove the Subaru, liked its styling, ride and comfort as well as the room for our grandkids in the third row. Liked the captain chairs in the 2nd Row as well. The addition of a tow hitch was both economical and easy to have installed. The safety features on the Subaru were a plus. So far we have nothing but good things to say about it and would buy it again.

Tim C (not verified)    June 10, 2024 - 9:11AM

So far we love our '23 Acsent Limited. Love the road feel, it's a pleasure to drive. It feels nimble, light and powerful, more so than I would have expected for an SUV this large. The gas mileage depends on how conservative our driving is, but can get UP TO almost 28 MPG on the highway. Love the adaptive cruise control and driver steering assist. The safety features are great, but the all the dings and alerts get on my nerves at times. The seating is comfortable, but my wife sometimes complains the seating is too stiff. The third row is better than most, but Iike other SUVs this size, the third 3 row is is too cramped and uncomfortable for long trips. We have to slide the second row up to strike a legroom balance neither passengers in either row love. An extra several inches would make a big difference. We have 4 kids and they prefer our older Honda Odyssey for long trips. The ability to haul a small trailer is really nice. Has a lot of cup holders, but I can tell you that all but a few of them are only practical for bottled or canned drinks, not a cup with a lid from a convenience store or restaurant, let alone a larger tumbler like a Stanley.

Rick (not verified)    June 10, 2024 - 5:56PM

Just a thought, I would consider renaming this vehicle completely. You must understand that Ascent sounds like “ass-end”.
That just may turn some people off immediately. Like I said, just a thought.