UPDATED: Subaru Shows Off Ascent Three-Row SUV Concept
Subaru Previews Its Midsize Ambitions
Automakers are often annoyed when journalists bring up past efforts that didn’t live up to expectations, so we’ll get the Tribeca reference out of the way first. Yes, Subaru has made a three-row SUV before. While there was nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s styling, packaging, and pricing didn’t exactly resonate with buyers the way the smaller Outback and Forester did. This time around, Subaru has taken cues from its highly successful Outback and Forester models and applied them to its forthcoming three-row SUV. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Ascent.
The first visual impression of the Ascent is “big Forester,” at least in our eyes. Considering the Forester has been a runaway success for the brand, probably not the worst move on Subaru’s part. While the exterior is relatively conservative for a “concept” car, Subaru was a little more adventurous in the interior, with a large, vertical touchscreen center interface similar to that on the Tesla Model S and X, as well as virtual touchscreen window controls on the doors, and a configurable digital gauge cluster, similar to that used by Range Rover and other luxury marques. While the center stack and gauges may make it to production in some form or the other, we’re not holding our breath for the virtual window switches. The center stack differs somewhat from Tesla’s approach in that it does have some physical buttons and knobs, as well as being slightly curved.
Other details released by Subaru on the Ascent are its dimensions, with a chunky 198.8-inch overall length, 78.3-inch width, and 72.4 inch height. In comparison, the Ford Explorer is 198.3, 78.9, and 70 inches, respectively. The only other major hint dropped by Subaru is the Ascent’s “all-new turbocharged, direct-injection boxer engine.” Our guess is that it will be four-cylinder, probably 2.5 liters, and producing just under 300 hp and slightly more than 300 lb-ft of torque. Naturally, all-wheel-drive will be standard. The Ascent will be built in Lafayette, Indiana, starting in 2018.