SPIED - 2018 Subaru Ascent Three-Row Crossover With Production Bodywork
Big Crossover Sports Lines that Dwarf Chevy Tahoe
Subaru has teased the possibility of a seven-seat SUV for years now, seemingly since the departure of the company’s unusual B9 Tribeca. That next-generation family hauler is finally on the way, taking the company’s modern design cues and applying them to a more traditional form factor than the undersized, overstyled Tribeca.
Called the Ascent, the Subaru crossover will slot in above the Outback and Forester in both size and price. In fact, if the Tahoe-dwarfing size of the company’s Viziv-7 Concept is any indicator, the Ascent will be the one of the largest crossovers in its class and Subaru’s largest vehicle ever. The Viziv-7’s rugged styling has been predictably toned down from its 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show clothes. Less outrageous lighting front and rear highlight the changes made to make the Viziv more production-ready, and the concept’s Kia Telluride–like styling has given way to a more conventional roofline and side profile.
We see a good amount of Hyundai Santa Fe in the greenhouse, but the front and rear fascias are decidedly Subaru, as is the sculpted bodyside surfacing that starts at the front fender and extends to the tail. The company’s current corporate face shows up on the Ascent, looking very much like the mug found on the recently redesigned Impreza and Crosstrek. A blocky roof rack and reasonable ground clearance make the Ascent’s outdoor-friendly personality clear, giving it something else in common with the rest of Subaru’s mainstream lineup. The Viziv-7’s clamshell-style rear hatch is gone, replaced by a liftgate that splits the bold LED taillamps in two.
Likely powertrains should include the company’s 2.0L turbocharged I-4 on the base end. Producing 250 hp and 258 lb-ft, the compact engine gives the smaller Forester respectable verve, and it should be a good base engine for the Ascent. A retuned version of the Subaru 3.6L flat-six producing up to 300 hp and 300 lb-ft would make for a smooth, relaxed family hauler, as well.
If Subaru wants to play in the heart of the family crossover market, it may need to price the Ascent more aggressively than it does the Outback. A base model with the turbocharged 2.0L I4 shouldn’t cost more than $31,000, and a flag-bearing Ascent 3.6R Touring should be less than $45,000. The company’s traditionally impressive fuel economy should transition to the SUV as well; we expect a highway rating of around 30 mpg for the turbo and 27 mpg for the flat-six.
Expect the Ascent to make a formal debut next month at the 2017 New York International Auto Show, with SUVs showing up in showrooms at the beginning of 2018.
Source: SpiedBilde Photography