2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – 2019 Subaru Ascent Unveiled
Largest Subaru Passenger Car Ever Offers Turbo Flat-Four, Eight-Passenger Seating
At a reveal event starring the dogs from its commercials, Subaru showed off the 2019 Ascent, a direct replacement for the 2006-2014 Tribeca. However, while the Tribeca was a smallish and largely unloved CUV with a barely usable rear seat, the Ascent is poised to become one of Subaru’s most popular models.
One reason for the Ascent’s expected popularity is its styling. Taking lots of cues from the hot-selling Outback station wagon/crossover (as well as the impressive Ascent concept), the Ascent makes a handsome (if a bit anonymous) first impression, starting from its bold front grille, hawkish headlamps, and clean bodysides with nicely integrated character lines. Around back is a bluff rear end, with a small bumper cover that barely protrudes from the rear hatch. The taillights are actually fairly similar to the first-generation B9 Tribeca’s, perhaps the only nod Subaru is willing to make to its first attempt at a three-row crossover. Nevertheless, in a world of overwrought designs, Subaru played it safe, landing on styling that some will call too conservative but will likely age much better than some of its more aggressive competitors.
Underneath the Subaru-staid exterior is a remarkably well-executed interior. The pleasant design takes cues from the modern Impreza, Crosstrek, and Outback, with an understated two-dial gauge cluster, large center infotainment screen bookended by two vertical HVAC vents, and a smaller hooded display on the top of the dash. Fine panel gaps and rich materials abound, particularly on the top-spec Touring and the one-rung-down Limited.
And all trim levels promise to be spacious, with seating for seven or eight occupants. We tried it on for size, and rest assured, there’s surprising space for six-footers, even in the third row. With all seats up, there’s 19.6 cubic feet of cargo room, expanding to more than 72 cubic feet with both rows folded.
Every Ascent gets an all-new engine from Subaru, a turbocharged 2.4L flat-four with direct fuel injection that’s mounted low in the frame for improved handling. Producing 260 hp and 277 lb-ft (from 2,000 to 4,800 rpm, no less), the new engine should be plenty gutsy for the CUV, and Subaru promises a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. The engine is paired exclusively to a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, which only bums us out a little (Subaru’s CVTs are among the best in the business). Obviously, all-wheel drive will be standard.
Par for the course for family crossovers, the 2019 Ascent will offer tons of safety and convenience features, but unlike some of its competitors, all of its driver-assist tech is standard across the board. Every Ascent will get Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which bundles automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure prevention. Furthermore, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and reverse automatic braking are available for even more protection from crashes.
The Ascent will also offer available built-in Wi-Fi, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and up to eight USB ports. And it will also get 19 beverage holders, vital for any true road trip machine. A large center console and door pockets, rear underfloor storage, and rear-seat climate controls will help keep the interior comfortable and clutter-free for all eight passengers.
Slated to arrive sometime next year, the Ascent will be built alongside the Outback, Legacy, and Impreza in Subaru’s Indiana manufacturing facility. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see the large SUV’s 2.4L turbocharged I-4 arrive in other products, possibly replacing the Outback 3.6R’s flat-six and the WRX’s turbocharged 2.0L I-4 in the future.
Overall, the Ascent promises to be everything Subaru owners tend to love about their vehicles, just in a larger, more spacious package. As we overheard another attendant say at the launch event, “They’ll sell every single one they can make.”