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Why The Subaru Ascent 3-Row SUV Is Now The Black Sheep Of The Family

The 2022 Subaru Ascent just made Consumer Reports' ten least reliable cars list again. Here are the problems with the 3-Row family hauler.

Is the 2022 Subaru Ascent a reliable SUV? According to a new study from Consumer Reports, the 2022 Ascent 3-Row family hauler is one of the ten models with the greatest risk of problems.

According to CR's analysis, the ten cars with the most significant risk of problems include the 2022 Subaru Ascent. The SUV gets a reliability score of 60 out of 100 and is the 10th least reliable new car. CR says trouble spots are the transmission, power equipment, brakes, in-car electronics, and climate system. CR gives the Ascent a 1/5 for predicted reliability.

2022 Subaru Ascent pricing, features, reliability

Consumer Reports' ten least reliable cars

The ten least reliable cars counting down to the least reliable model are the Subaru Ascent, Chrysler Pacifica, Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volvo XC90, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Mustang, Ford Explorer, and Mercedes-Benz GLE (least reliable).

CR says the Ascent 3-Row SUV initially had average reliability, but transmission problems, sometimes requiring a replacement, have lowered its reliability score. Subaru has had recalls on the 2019 Ascent for transmission issues and a defective PCV valve that could cause engine failure. Subaru also issued a recall for Ascent's driveshaft bolts that could loosen.

2022 Subaru Ascent pricing, features, reliability

The 3-Row SUV was also recalled because of possible missing spot welds on or around the B-pillar, compromising vehicle strength. The recalled models could not be fixed and were destroyed. A Subaru spokesperson said they only sold nine Ascents to customers with this problem. The rest were still sitting on dealers' lots or in transit when the Japanese automaker discovered the issue.

Overall reliability verdict for the Ascent

CR says the 2019 and 2020 Ascent model years had the worst reliability rating, improving for 2021 models. CR's prediction is based on data from 2019, 2020, and 2021 models, and since there are no changes to the 2022 models, it carries through. Consumer Reports ranks the 2022 Ascent number eleven out of fourteen 3-Row midsize SUVs.

Does Subaru have reliability problems?

Subaru ranks in the top 25 percent of automakers in Consumer Reports' latest testing. According to a recent 2021 study from Consumer Reports, out of twenty-eight automakers in the U.S. market, Subaru scores number seven overall in predicted reliability, putting them at the top 25 percent of the most reliable car brands category. You can read the complete report here.

Should SUV shoppers stay away from the 2022 Subaru Ascent?

The Subaru Ascent was an all-new model for the 2019 model year, and as with many new cars, there are "bugs" to work out. It's a problem affecting many automakers when they launch an all-new model. Subaru does cover the Ascent model's issues under its new car warranty (basic coverage is three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first). The powertrain coverage for its cars is five years or 60,000 miles.

Unlike the owner-reported reliability history, owners of newer Ascent models report overall satisfaction scores of 3/5. And the 3-Row SUV does well in Consumer Reports Road Tests with a 93/100 score.

The 2019 Subaru Ascent had more problems than any other model in the automaker's lineup, but there have been no significant issues reported for the 2022 Subaru Ascent models. It appears like the automaker has corrected the transmission and most other issues in 2021 and 2022 Ascent 3-Row SUVs.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


JB (not verified)    November 21, 2021 - 8:12AM

We own a 2019 Ascent. I can only vouch for brake issues, nothing more. Perhaps we are the fortunate ones. Subaru was definitely slow on the uptake (three years) to ultimately provide solid replacement brake pads - but at least they paid the bill for the 7-8 brake jobs we had since purchase.

Interestingly, the dealership’s response was always “it’s the heaviest vehicle they’ve ever built, hence the issue.” My response always was “heavier vehicles have been on the road from other manufacturers since before I was born :-) - this is not a novel problem.” Otherwise we love our Ascent.

Brian (not verified)    November 23, 2021 - 8:01PM

In reply to by Eric Barber (not verified)

I've owned two Subaru so far - a 2001 Legacy GT Limited and, now, a 2013 Legacy GT. Both have been rock solid, with the biggest issue being the head gasket problem on the 01. For a 20 year old car in the Pennsylvania winters and copiously salted roads, it has held up well. Both have served us well in weather that would (and has) left lesser vehicles stranded - granted, we also run a good set of tires (and I have a set of Blizzaks for the 13 which makes it a pure snow monster when the conditions require). The AWD system on both does a great job moving power, and took some getting used to after driving a 1990 Pathfinder for so long.

Of course the Ascent is going to have its teething issues, and subaru has had a few black eyes due to production line mishaps. I believe they can sort it out though.

R. Ellis (not verified)    December 1, 2021 - 9:11PM

In reply to by JB (not verified)

That's a crock on Subaru's part I had a 2006 Tribeca which was much heavier than anything that came after it up until the ascent was made. I
Don't know the weight of the ascent but the Tribeca that I had that was nearly 5000 lbs it was the only year Subaru made them that big as it was the first year of production. I put 130,000 miles on it and I didn't have any of the issues you described I think I only did one brake change all around!

Joseph (not verified)    December 15, 2021 - 8:00PM

In reply to by R. Ellis (not verified)

I have a 2013 Subaru Tribeca with 65000 miles on it. Previously owned a 2006 Tribeca which we traded at 129k because of head gasket problems too costly to fix. The 2013 runs like a champ, pulls our 2900 lb travel trailer and remarkably nimble thru some treacherous mountain roads in W. Va. About the only thing we don’t like about Subarus is the MPG but other than that we love our Subaru. As for the Ascent, not sure about this, Subaru seems to be lagging the competition in this SUV category.

Pete S (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 10:40AM

The 2019 model year Ascent is reason the reliability ratings are low for the model. Issues were addressed by Subaru and reliability for each subsequent model year improved. The transmission issue noted as a problem in the 2019 models was actually a faulty wire harnes that caused transmission problems, the transmission itself was not the problem. My 2021 Ascent has 12,000 trouble-free miles on it and I expect much of the same over it's lifetime.

Kman (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 11:40AM

I have a 2020 and have no issues at all in 26k miles. I agree, I think the 2019 models are dragging down the ratings.

Valerie (not verified)    January 9, 2022 - 7:15AM

In reply to by jt (not verified)

Some of us drive a lot. This was never a problem with my Outback, my Crosstrek, or any of my Corollas. The second transmission only had 10k miles on it when it had its catastrophic failure, so no, the number of miles isn't the problem. I won't have this problem any more, though, because I traded it in on a RAV4.

Jim (not verified)    April 13, 2023 - 7:41AM

In reply to by Valerie (not verified)

I’m on my 3rd transmission replacement as well. I have a 2020 Ascent limited with 190K miles. I still have original brake pads and rotors. Rear are needed now, fronts have a little more life, rotors are good. I will be replacing all this week.

Mike (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 1:43PM

I wonder if my 2019 Crosstrek is missing weld spots too but in the A-pillar area. It creaks, taps and rattles like a school bus over bumps and the dealer can’t figure it out. What a frustrating experience.

Daniel (not verified)    December 31, 2021 - 7:50PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

I had a lot of squeaks in my 2017 Forester XT and thought it was weld spots. Dealer had no idea. Turned out it was the electric tape around the wiring which was rubbing on the clips it runs through. Simple solution was to put foam tape so they wouldn’t creek. All gone now!

Damian Mcinerney (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 3:05PM

Very misleading article that appears to damage the reputation of a great automobile. No doubt the 2019 model year was bad for the brand but all has been taken care of by Subaru. I’m a proud owner and stand by my decision to buy an Ascent.

Rugerdog (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 9:18PM

I had an early 2019 and consequently, one of the early transmission failures. Subaru was great in replacing the trans and honestly, in 96,000 miles it was easily the best car I have owned. I believe n the car and the company behind the car!

Carolyn J White (not verified)    November 22, 2021 - 11:04PM

We have a 2019 ascent and have no problems.
We purchased this vehicle due to Consumer reports great rating ratings. This is a little disturbing.

Scott H (not verified)    November 25, 2021 - 8:43PM

2019 Ascent: Numerous brake issues, replaced pads and rotors a few times. Took in for all the recalls. Have a problem on start-up when a huge plume of smoke comes from the exhaust when cold started. Goes away but pretty worrying. Took in and they WERE able to replicate it, but couldn't find anything wrong... Not sure how this is possible...

Prabu (not verified)    November 26, 2021 - 9:08AM

I own a Subaru. I Did not have any issue with it. And I love my car. This website always gives negative feedback about Ascent. I am sure you are paid to promote those l these stories.

Syeed (not verified)    November 28, 2021 - 12:40PM

The report is falsely generated, based on nothing. Don’t know how much the competitors pay to make a report like this! Probably huge! Right now we have a WRX 2020 and a Crosstrek 2019, and buying an Ascent asap with a plan for a BRZ for the newest driver of the family! Never had any issue with our Subarus. Drive them on a 2 feet snow and you won’t buy any other cars! I wish Subaru sue the reporter.

DEBRA Peterson (not verified)    December 5, 2021 - 7:29AM

I had transmission completely replaced on my 2021 Ascent at 750 miles! Brand new car! Now having problem with odd brake sounds & front passenger side door won't unlock. Going back in thevshop this week!!!

NMK (not verified)    December 5, 2021 - 3:52PM

The CVT is the problem. They are bad to begin with in any vehicle. CVT is definitely a bad idea for such a large heavy vehicle. CVTs do bad with high weight and high torque. Maybe subaru has found a fix for that with their new "SPT" CVT transmission. I still wouldnt touch one with a 10ft pole.

Eric Pizarro (not verified)    December 17, 2021 - 4:39PM

We have one of the very first 2019 Ascent Limited model.
It did have minor issue with the transmission. It didn’t need to be replaced. Just transmission software refurbished. It’s on 43,000 miles. So far so good. I hope it keep going well plus Subaru gave us 100,000/ 10 years warranty on the transmission.
We love our Subaru. The way it handle is phenomenal.

Mijas (not verified)    January 6, 2022 - 12:07PM

We have 2019 Ascent Premier trim now at almost 40,000 miles - delivered around mid-2018, so it's one of the early ones.
No issues so far - only brake pads replaced (covered by warranty) and a couple of recalls. Transmission replacement would be covered by 10 yrs / 100k miles warranty enhancement if it ever fails.
Consumer Reports ratings are contradicting - initially, it was praised as the best 3-row SUV, now it's at the bottom of the reliability ranking. Looks like both extremes are wrong - I wouldn't take CR ratings seriously