Subaru desperately needed this big family hauler. Currently the brand goes from badass fanboy WRX guys who tend to be under 40, to empty nesters who pile into Crosstreks once their kids are grown. The Outback, despite the fact that it’s massive as well, doesn’t attract as many parents because…it’s still a wagon body and doesn’t have a third row of seats. Enter the Ascent, with 153.5 cubic-foot volume, seating for eight, clever rear doors that swing as wide as 75 degrees (the better for boosting a toddler into a carseat), and a whopping 19 cupholders!
One dig is that the second row seat doesn’t come standard split 40/20/40, a configuration we prefer for passing through skis and surfboards (as well as lumber); instead you have to go up to Premium trim and opt for second row captain’s chars, meaning you lose the versatility of two rear benches. Regardless, Ascent is large, with up to 72.6 cubic feet of cargo space. It should also be reasonably capable off road, because of course it has Subaru’s vaunted symmetrical AWD and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
We’re anxious to test the Ascent, too, because it comes with a new version of the Subaru four-cylinder boxer engine rather than a V-6. Output of the turbocharged 2.4-liter, 260hp at 5,600rpm, seems modest, but peak torque (what actually gets you off the line) is a reasonable 277 lb.ft. at only 2,000rpm. This seems like the right compromise between enough muscle to accelerate and pass on the highway and not so much that you’re getting 15mpg in town.
Speaking of compromises, Subaru knows its market, so the vehicle will go on sale this coming summer starting in the mid-$30k range. That’s the fat middle of this booming SUV market, so the Ascent should sell briskly.
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